In 2010 Whistlerites won’t have to wonder what it feels like to hurtle down an Olympic luge track or race through the forest on state of the art cross-country trails.
They’ll have already had the chance to experience it first-hand.
Olympic organizers for the 2010 Games reiterated at a recent media tour that the Whistler competition venues will be ready by the end of the year, giving Canadian athletes the edge over the competition, and the public a chance to see what the multi-million dollar playing fields are all about.
“It’s always been part of the operational strategy for the Games to run these venues right down to Games time,” said John Furlong, the CEO for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games (VANOC).
“We’re opening them so our athletes can get on them.”
Athletes like Pierrre Lueders, Canadian bobsleigh champion, with Olympic gold and silver medals to his name, who is hoping to get on the world’s newest sliding track in a few short months.
“There’s aspects of this track that I’ve never seen anywhere,” said the Olympian at the site of the new track.
Before setting off on a five-hour venue tour, Dan Doyle, executive vice president of venue construction for VANOC, reminded reporters of his prediction on the same tour a year ago when he said he would deliver the venues on time and on budget.
“I was confident then,” he said. “I’m super-confident now.”
That confidence comes from the sheer volume of on-the-ground work, which has taken place in the last year, changing the landscapes of the area forever.
And, if there’s one common theme running through these venues, it’s that they’re situated in some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world.
$120 million Whistler Nordic venue
Though just on the outskirts of town, the Whistler Nordic venue feels as though it’s light years away from civilization.
U.S. Nordic combined Olympian Bill Demong described his first impression of the venue as something out of Lord of the Rings.
The old road to the venue climbs endlessly up into the Callaghan Valley, flanked on both sides by tall trees. This road is the secondary access road; Olympic spectators will travel to the site on a four-lane paved boulevard.
And then, it finally opens to the site.
A concrete shooting range for the biathlon is nestled under a forest of trees. Competitors will stop and aim at tiny targets 50 metres away and then continue on the competition trails, which disappear into the vast surrounding forest.