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Lessons learned on the slopes

World Cup test events a success for Olympic organizers

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However, he added, VANOC and FIS are considering using snow to create more features on the courses for the Games.

“The vast majority of athletes were really impressed with the track, that’s the feedback we got pretty much across the board,” he said.

“We are not going to be changing anything in terms of the physical contouring of the track, but obviously they did learn some lessons about where they could put in features on both men’s and ladies’ tracks and that is something we will be looking at as we move to 2010.”

Issues also arose around spectator access to the finish line area and the World Cup course as the competition got up and running. Early in the week spectators had to hike up a snowy hill to get to the finish line.

“There were guest concerns with the lack of access and the fact that you had to walk up the slope,” said Stuart Rempel, senior vice president of marketing for Whistler-Blackcomb.

By the weekend, bus transportation was being provided to the finish line for everyone – not just the media and the VIPs.

Gayda also said that the uphill hike in and out will not be on snow at Games time, but rather it will on pavement or on gravel and it’s likely there will be an open-air gondola put in as well.

Whistler-Blackcomb was also concerned about the lack of on-course viewing, which was due mostly to the geography of the mountain when both the Men’s and Women’s World Cup races are running at the same time.

Rempel would like to see more spectator viewing along the edges.

“I think there was a great finish-line experience for either the people that did hike up or took the transportation,” he said.

“But on the mountain the viewing pods were quite limited. Certainly we would love to see on-mountain viewing during the Games as long as VANOC security would allow that. We would really hope to see that come to fruition during the actual Games.”

Said Gayda: “From the Federation, to the athletes, to us, everyone wants to see people up there.”

During the Games period, which runs from Feb. 12-28, VANOC also worked with Environment Canada weather experts to practice forecasting for the Olympics.

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