2010 Winter Games Excitement in Whistler
by Lena Gilfled
One year ago, on July 2,
2003, in Prague, Czechoslovakia, the International Olympic Committee
(IOC) announced Vancouver-Whistler as hosts of the 2010 Olympic and
Paralympic Winter Games. In Whistler, British Columbia, an early-morning crowd of 5,000 people
erupted in cheers at the announcement. Competing against PyeongChang, South
Korea and Salzburg, Austria, it was the culmination to five years of planning
and hoping by the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation.
Long-renowned for the
skiing and snowboarding on Whistler
and Blackcomb mountains, the "Sea to Sky" Winter Games present an
unparalleled opportunity to showcase Whistler to a global audience. Why? During
the 2000 Sydney Summer Games, it was estimated that the city received $6 billion
US in worldwide publicity. During the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, two billion people watched event coverage
More importantly, however,
according to a recent economic study by the British Columbia Ministry of
Competition, Science and Enterprise, hosting the Games combined with an expanded
convention centre in Vancouver could generate up to $10 billion in economic
activity, while creating up to 228,000 new jobs in the run up to the Winter
The distinctive five rings
of the Olympic logo are recognized by more than three billion people worldwide.
Vancouver-Whistler expects more than 10,000 international media to cover the
Games. It is this international exposure that will increase awareness of British
Columbia and Canada, driving tourism development and economic benefits in the
run-up to, and long past, the Winter Games.
Inspired by an
The development of
Whistler Mountain was inspired by an Olympic dream when, in 1960, four Vancouver
businessmen envisioned Whistler as the site to host a future Winter Games. When
the Bid for the 1968 Games was unsuccessful, the Garibaldi Lift Company was
formed with the new goal of creating a ski operation. Whistler Mountain opened
in 1966, near the shores of Alta Lake, in an area first known as a summer
destination because of the abundant fishing. Bids were put together for the 1976
Winter Games (awarded to Innsbruck, Austria) and the 1980 Winter Games (awarded
to Lake Placid, USA), prior to last summer's winning bid.
Today, the acclaimed
Whistler and Blackcomb ski area is one of the few North American resorts to have
hosted World Cup events in all alpine snow sports: freestyle, alpine skiing, and
snowboarding. The resort hosted the 2001 World Freestyle Championships, and will
stage the 2005 Snowboard FIS World Championships. But Whistler's in-depth
experience and track record in hosting world-class events will be taken to
another level with the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2010.
In 1994, the International
Olympic Committee (IOC) added environment as a third pillar of the Olympic
Movement, along with sport and culture. The
Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) will look beyond environmental
stewardship to champion social responsibility, economic opportunity, sport
development, and health promotion. Promoting awareness and understanding of the
Olympic movement, sport and culture across a broad range of youth and education
programs is another key responsibility of the Organizing Committee.
Over the next six years,
$600 million in highway improvements will occur on the scenic Sea to Sky Highway
between West Vancouver and Whistler. When complete, the upgrades are expected to
shave 25 minutes on the current two-hour drive time.
In the Callaghan Valley,
12 kilometres south of the resort, the Whistler Nordic Centre will be a
world-class facility, hosting the cross-country skiing, biathlon, Nordic
combined and ski jumping events. There, three temporary spectator areas will
hold a total of 60,000 fans on competition days. The Whistler Sliding Centre
will host the bobsled, luge and skeleton events on Blackcomb Mountain. The ice
track will unfold over 1,350 metres, featuring 18 curves on a 124-metre vertical
The famed Dave Murray
Downhill on Whistler Mountain will be home to the alpine speed events of
downhill and super giant slalom, while the technical events (slalom and giant
slalom) are proposed for the slopes of Blackcomb Mountain. Even today, you can
experience the thrill of skiing or snowboarding on these Olympic courses.
In the centre of the
resort village, a temporary celebration and medal presentation stadium will be
erected on the Whistler Golf Course driving range, hosting 10,000 people for
cultural entertainment and concerts. Another legacy will be the Athletes
Village, which will be converted into employee housing after the Games.
Aside from the opening and
closing ceremonies in Vancouver, the entire competition schedule for the
Paralympic Winter Games that follow in March, 2010 will be held in Whistler,
including the debut sport of wheelchair curling.
A popular spot for
visitors is the Whistler 2010 Information Centre, where more than 83,000 people
have been welcomed since it opened in early 2002. Snapshots of people on the
awards podium are a must, as are pictures of the authentic bobsleigh from the
1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.
More than Just
From steeps and deeps to
long chutes and high alpine bowls, if you're a skier or snowboarder, Whistler
Blackcomb ski area is a slice of heaven. With the most terrain (7,071 acres) and
greatest vertical (5,280 feet or one mile) in North America and an average
annual snowfall of nine metres, these award-wining mountains also feature 200
marked trails, 30 lifts, and 12 alpine bowls. But there's more to Whistler than
skiing and snowboarding. Located 120 kilometres north of Vancouver, B.C., the
Resort Municipality of Whistler is centred around a European-style pedestrian
village with a wide selection of restaurants, spas, boutiques, galleries, and a
non-stop nightlife. Accommodation in the resort ranges from town homes to luxury
home rentals, and five-star hotel rooms to three-bedroom condominiums, complete
with gourmet kitchens and private hot tubs.
This diverse community of
more than 10,000 permanent residents offers winter activities that range from
cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, to snowshoeing, skating and heli-skiing.
In the summer, there is everything from world-renowned golf and mountain biking,
to hiking, rock climbing, and watersports. The adventurous can try back-country
skiing and snowboarding, rock climbing, zip-trekking across steel cables in a
harness, or bungy jumping from a 200-foot bridge.
To plan your summer or
winter Whistler vacation now, or for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic
Winter Games, visit www.tourismwhistler.com,
www.vancouver2010.com and www.seatoskyimprovements.ca.
- The XXI Olympic Winter
Games: February 12 - 28, 2010
- The X Paralympic Winter
Games: March 12 to March 21, 2010
- Olympic Winter Games
sports include alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsleigh, skeleton, luge, cross-country
skiing, Nordic combined and ski jumping in Whistler. Freestyle skiing,
snowboarding, curling, figure skating, ice hockey, speed skating and short track
speed skating are in Vancouver.
- Paralympic Winter Games
sports include alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, sledge ice hockey,
wheelchair curling (debuting as a medal sport).
- 15 winter sports are
represented with 2,500 competing athletes in the Olympic Games; 1,100 athletes
in five sports will compete in the Paralympic Games.
- 1.8 million event
tickets, ranging from $25 to $925.
- 900,000 tickets are
available for opening and closing ceremonies, festivals and medal presentations.
- Ticket and accommodation
pricing will be announced in late 2008, while sales will begin in 2009.
- The majority of
Whistler-Blackcomb's terrain will be open to public while Olympic events are
$100,000,000 in legacy funding is set aside as an endowment to
keep Olympic facilities operational after the 2010 Winter Games.
- An estimated 25,000
volunteers will be needed for the Games.
All figures Canadian