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Sun Peaks, Canada

Sun Peaks has huge bowls, wide runs, steep chutes and an abundance of glades. It’s also undergoing extensive development on its way to becoming a major destination resort.

Sun Peaks Ski Resort, CanadaSun Peaks is a huge resort in the heart of heli-skiing country that seems to have appeared out of nowhere, with rapid development in recent years. Locals launched the ski area in 1961, with volunteers carving many of the runs that are still skied today. Its strides toward the future of skiing began with Nippon Cable’s purchase of the former Tod Mountain in 1992. More than C$450 million has been invested.

With a recently built first-class hotel and a third mountain adding almost 1,000 acres, Sun Peaks has certainly joined the big leagues. The resort’s slogan is “Three Mountains, One Village” and the third mountain has made all the difference. The resort is now ranked the largest ski area in the interior and the second largest in British Columbia behind Whistler.

Al Raine and his Olympic ski-champion wife, The Hon. Nancy Greene Raine, O.C., O.B.C., who together helped build Whistler to the international destination it is today, now call Sun Peaks home. Nancy is both the director and ambassador of skiing. Even though Sun Peaks is often called the next Whistler, Sun Peaks people don’t want to be known by that moniker. This mountain has its own distinctive profile. It’s a great mountain village and resort with a ski area graced with huge bowls, wide runs, steep chutes and an abundance of glades.

The resort has one of five North American detachable quads with a bubble, the 1.5-mile Sunburst Express in the middle of the main village. Off to its right are six single-diamond steeps, all in a row, plus four steep blues off to the left. And that’s not all. The Sunburst Ridge alone has 15 different trails, plus countless glades. Sun Peaks opened a new fifth quad for the 2006-07 season, to the right of the Sunburst Express. It’s Elevation Chair, a fixed-grip quad, which gives access on Tod Mountain to easy, intermediate and difficult runs. Beginners have their own separate area near the Village Day Lodge in front of Nancy Greene’s hotel, Cahilty Lodge. It’s very much out of the way of busy skier traffic, affording first-timers a measure of safety.

Sun Peaks now uses a second winchcat for grooming steep terrain and recently increased its snowmaking capacity for more even coverage during the early season, including the terrain parks and halfpipe.