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3 GREAT POWDER ESCAPES
By Jane Cassie
For Travel Writers' Tales

With the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games on the horizon, powder hounds are heading up Whistler way to get a sneak peek -maybe even a trial run on a manicured slope. But why go that far? If you're in search of epic terrain, without the crowds, just head out your back door. These three great mountain escapes have heaps of wintry white fluff and lots of champion attributes.

BIG WHITE SKI RESORT

It's all about the snow here, and it's all big! Seven annual meters (24.5 feet) of virgin fresh blankets this resort's terrain and transforms evergreen stands into stalagmite-like snow ghosts. Vertical chutes, treeless bowls and more than 118 diversified runs are all part of the champion mix. And now that nearby Kelowna International has lengthened its runway, global ski buffs can get here a lot quicker, non stop.

Praiseworthy Traits and Updates - Location, location and lots of luxury. That epitomizes the Chateau Blanc, Big White's upcoming new four diamond hotel. You'll soon be able to combine conferencing, casino and comforts at this cornerstone property. If you're more of a spa denizen, check out Stonegate Spa Resort. This ski in ski out posh spot incorporates hot tubs, a tiered theatre and fitness centre under one glorious roof. And for all you family and pet lovers -hit the media room, waterslide and outdoor pool at the Sundance Lodge. Although you may want to remain cocooned in any one of these accommodations during your entire stay, the nearby corduroy runs created by the resort's two new Pisten Bully grooming machines will lure you slope-side more than ever.

Honorable accolades - There's no surprises here -as well as big snow, this mountain wins big awards. Acclaimed Condé Nast's Traveler rated it as Best Snow in North America, SBC Ski and Snowboard Resort Guide gave it Best Place to Session a Precision Terrain Park, readers of Australia's Luxury Travel magazine declared it to be the fifth most luxurious ski resort in the world, and just recently, The Times (London, UK) just selected Big White as one of the top five family ski destinations worldwide! Now that's big! www.bigwhite.com

SILVER STAR MOUNTAIN RESORT

The name says it all. This Victorian-style delight, just an hour drive from Kelowna, is star quality all round. Bowls, glades, chutes oh my! The diverse downhill options are laced together by a hundred and fifteen runs and etched into three unique mountain faces. A bump and jump Terrain Park, steep and deep mogul fields and award-winning cross-country tracks carve their way into this medal-winning combo, and all is cloaked with that glorious champagne powder.

Praiseworthy Traits and Updates - The Nordic teams from Finland, Australia, and Norway agree -when it comes to pre-Olympic training, this interior gem takes the gold. At least they're hoping so. In preparation for the big event, they've been practicing alongside Canadian gold medalist Chandra Crawford and silver medalist Sara Renner on the hundred plus kilometers (60 miles) of cross-country runs.

Honorable accolades - It's pretty much a given that this resort, with its world-class cross country would be awarded the World Masters Nordic Championships in 2011, a recreational racing event that will attract hundreds of Nordic skiers from around the world. Stay tuned, this star will keep shining! www.skisilverstar.com

SUN PEAKS MOUNTAIN RESORT

There's a cache of award-winning powder at this mountain hangout that hovers outside Kamloops. It blankets 122 runs, 3,678 ski-able acres, and over 40 kilometers of cross country routes. From every one of the eleven lifts you'll discover a fine balance of expert, intermediate and beginner routes that trail back to the Bavarian-like village where a selection of shops hug up to top-notch lodgings and après ski hot spots.

Praiseworthy Traits and Updates: Westjet has increased their service to Kamloops making 'getting here' a lot more accessible. And if you're traveling with the family pack, book a 'suite' stay at the new super-sized and centralized Kookaburra Lodge. The Winter Wine Festival is a happening vino venue January 16-24th. Combine it with a Mike Wiegele Heli-ski experience to nearby Blue River or trail blaze locally with acclaimed Olympian, Nancy Greene. This Canadian Senator continues to have a lively presence at Sun Peaks and on most weekends can be found leading guests on a memorable descent.

Honorable accolades - Winning the 2007 national award for ski resort excellence by the Canadian Ski Council was pretty admirable. Receiving it again in 2009 was just plain outstanding. As well as being rated one of the top ten ski resorts in North America by Conde Nast Traveler 2008, full marks were handed out by Ski Magazine this past year for Best Race Training Centre, Kids' Terrain Park, Ski-in/Ski-out Village, and Alpine Resort in Summer. Yes, Sun Peaks Resort is another interior winner and another great powder escape! www.sunpeaksresort.com

Photos are compliments of the individual resorts

1. Bustling Big White village
2. Silver Star takes the star for Nordic terrain
3. Trail blaze with acclaimed Olympian, Nancy Greene
4. Kookaburra Lodge offers a 'suite' stay at Sun Peaks

Travel Writers' Tales is an independent travel article syndicate that offers professionally written travel articles to newspaper editors and publishers. To check out more, visit www.travelwriterstales.com

 


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