If there was one message that came across loud and clear at Whistler's last big business gathering before the Games it was: take time to enjoy the Olympics.
"We want you to have the time of your life," Maureen Douglas, director of communications for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the Games (VANOC), told the sold-out crowd at a Whistler Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday, Jan. 21.
To make the most of it, she added, it's crucial to plan ahead. If you live in Whistler and have a ticket to an event, plan to go roughly two to three hours before the event starts to ensure time to get to the venue and clear security. There will be entertainment at each venue to help pass the time before the athletes compete.
She also encouraged people to be aware of the traffic delays before setting out, highlighting the website www.travelsmart2010.com for planning ahead.
The chamber luncheon allowed Whistler's key players to pass on their last minute tips for residents to make the most of the 2010 Olympics. It was also time to harness some Olympic spirit as Mayor Ken Melamed officially announced high school student, and mountain biker, Tyler Allison as Whistler's official torchbearer to light the cauldron on Feb. 5, the day the torch relay comes to Whistler.
There were practical tips for skiers and riders from Doug Forseth, senior vice president of operations at Whistler Blackcomb.
With little room to park during the Games, Whistler Blackcomb is expecting to see 6,000 to 7,000 people daily on the mountains. On a non-Olympic year that number would be closer to 9,000 to 10,000. Despite the lack of skiers, operations will continue as normal with 90 per cent of the terrain open.
In particular the Peak to Creek run will be open. Forseth said skiers should use that as their last run of the day if they live in the south end of town. There will be a ski out exit at Creekside.
With the lack of parking in the village Forseth advised: "Buy your bus pass."
But if you plan to drop someone off to go skiing, the best place to do that, said Forseth, is at the Blackcomb Day Lodge.
Tourism Whistler also had some words of wisdom to pass along, chief among them was to stay positive. President Barrett Fisher said you'll never know when you'll be standing in line next to a journalist (there will be thousands in the resort), and this is the time to put Whistler's best face forward.
Tourism Whistler plans to survey approximately 2,000 guests in town during the Games as part of its market research and to try to quantify what kind of a boost the Games will give to Whistler long term.
Municipal CEO and Administrator Bill Barratt also encouraged Whistlerites to pick up their Resident's Guide from municipal hall, the library or Meadow Park Sports Centre. The guide is full of information to help plan around the Games. He also reminded residents of the handful of public open houses at Whistler Canada Olympic House (the library) throughout February. The first will be held on Saturday, Feb. 6. Whistler's torchbearers will be on hand to meet the pubic.
The chamber is hosting an information/rally session for employees Wednesday, Jan. 27 at the Westin Resort and Spa. The drop-in session, between 4 and 7 p.m., will include Olympic information, ticket giveaways, contests and free refreshments.