50 years is a superb landmark to reach and Big White is celebrating the achievement this coming winter. Jim Lloyd from Big White Ski Resort talks about his experiences over the last 50 years in this charming Canadian destination.
It’s hard to believe that Jim has been skiing at Big White for 50 years, but he has, in fact had a season pass for all 50 years. What are the odds of that!
Big White started back in 1963 as Kelowna’s local ski mountain. It was about an hour out of town, back then it could have been two hours or you might not even get there. Cars were big and heavy and all were rear wheel drive. The road to the mountain was gravel, not paved highway as is today. Every weekend Jim and his family would load up the car and join other locals on the adventure to the mountain. It wasn’t uncommon to have vehicles scattered all over the road trying to make their way up, it was just another part of the adventure in going skiing. Sometimes there was just too much snow and too many stuck cars to make it up. If you did make it, the skiing was incredible, that’s one thing that hasn’t changed over the years.
In the 60’s it was two T-bars – a little one for the beginner slope and the other that was over a mile long. As a six year old, making it all the way up the big one was like winning the lottery. You didn’t make it most of the time because at some point you would get airborne, but you sure had fun trying! I remember seeing Big White’s snow covered trees for the first time (Snowghosts): they were like skiing around clouds, just amazing and you can still do that today.
The 70’s saw the first chairlifts go in, and the beginnings of a resort village. The word had started to spread about how good the snow was in the interior of BC compared to the coast and now Vancouverites started to show up. Into the 80’s, Big White’s terrain started to expand and with that came the reputation of some of the best skiing anywhere in western Canada and western Canada has the best skiing in the country.
In the 90’s Big White Ski Resort began to gain recognition internationally, the purpose built ski-in ski-out resort provided unparalleled convenience for not only skiing but après activities as well.
Through the first decade of 2000 Big White saw tremendous growth in both on and off mountain infrastructure. Numerous high speed lifts, family friendly activities and an increase in bed base from 3,500 beds to nearly 17,000 created the largest totally ski-in ski-out resort in Canada.
So as I reflect on the last 50 years at Big White, it is rewarding to see that we’ve grown from a small local mountain in the interior of BC to one of the best ski experiences in the world. It also seems fitting that as Big White Ski Resort gets ready to celebrate its 50th it has been selected as one of five finalists for Best Family Resort in the World at the 2012 World Snow Awards. I’ve been lucky enough to experience the growth first hand and welcome you come and experience it for yourself. You’ll soon figure out why I’ve been a pass holder for 50 years.
Cheers to being 50!
Jim Loyd, Director of Sales
Big White Ski Resort