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The Year In Sports

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You could feel the tension in the air the moment January 2009 rolled around and results started to count towards Olympic selections in many sports.

Whistler hosted an alpine World Cup test event the previous winter, but all of the other venues - sliding centre, ski jumps, cross-country, biathlon and Nordic combined - would be put through their paces with the world's best dropping in to compete.

It was a great winter for sports fans as attendance was free or close to it for many events, providing you had a way in. All of the bobsleigh, skeleton and luge events sold out, while there were so many spectators at the second day of the ski jump World Cup that organizers had to turn vehicles away.

Despite a few criticisms by Nordic athletes who thought the Whistler courses were too hard or too easy, depending who you talked to, all of our 2010 venues passed technical inspections with flying colours. The sliding centre had its fair share of crashes during training week but the track crew solved those issues by adding water to some sections and shaving away the ice on others. By event day the athletes were setting new speed records in skeleton, luge and bobsleigh, breaking the 150 km/h mark in the four-man bobsleigh.

But while the Olympics were on all our minds, the other events taking place in Whistler this year were also a pretty big deal.

Some of the highlights from the past year include Danny Kass bringing the Grenade Games to the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival; the long overdue underground skateboard contest during the TWSSF; Ashleigh McIvor winning the world championship in ski cross, while teammate Julia Murray reached the podium for the first time; Whistler's Brandon Semenuk placing second in the Crankworx slopestyle; Claire Buchar reaching the World Cup downhill podium for the first time in her cycling career; the opening of several new trail sections around town; hundreds of police men and women and firefighters coming to Whistler for the golf, mountain bike and orienteering events of the 2009 World Police and Fire Games; the Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association breaking the 1,500 member mark for the first time ever; WORCA's 20 th anniversary celebration; one of the nicest and warmest summers in recent history; a record-breaking November for snowfall; Whistler Mountain Ski Club alumnus Manuel Osborne-Paradis winning World Cup gold in downhill and super G... lots of good stuff and this only scratches the surface of 2009.

I was tempted to include all of Canada's results in my roundup, given our number one status, but because of space I mainly focused on Whistler athletes and events.

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