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.
Best of 2009
3 - Whistler's Mike Janyk makes his way back into the World Cup top 10 in slalom for the first time since missing most of the previous season with a back injury.
3 - New Canadian citizen Ivan Babikov becomes the second man in Canadian history to win gold in a World Cup cross country race.
5 - The Test of Metal at last sells out after technical problems (e.g. huge demand) shut down their registration server on New Year's Day.
10-11 - The Whistler Blackcomb Freestyle Club earns 12 medals in the first provincial series competition of the season.
10-11 - Squamish endurance racer Jen Segger sets a course record in the rain and mud at the annual 50 km Bridle Trails Winter Festival 50 km run in Seattle.
10-11 - The Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) K2 skiers win 14 of 18 medals at a zone race at Mt. Washington.
16-18 - Whistler hosts the first part of Nordic Fest at Whistler Olympic Park, featuring cross-country World Cup action. The Canadians do well at home, with Alex Harvey and George Grey taking third in the team sprint.
17-18 - WMSC K1 skiers claim 17 of 18 medals in a zone competition at Cypress.
17-18 - Canadian aerialists win three of six medals at Lake Placid.
17-18 - The snowboard world championships take place in Korea. Jasey-Jay Anderson wins gold in parallel giant slalom and teammate Matthew Morison is third. Jeff Batchelor is second in halfpipe.
12 - Local Olympian Sylvia Kerfoot announces plans to step back from competing in the 2008-09 World Cup mogul season to recover from a knee injury the previous season.
24-25 - The men's mogul team sweeps the podium in Quebec, with Vincent Marquis, Alex Bilodeau and Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau first through third. Jenn Heil places second on the women's side, while Steve Omischl is first in aerials.
24-25 - WMSC hosts the Parsons Memorial super G races for K2 skiers. Club skiers win medals in every event, with Kailee Darlington and Broderick Thompson winning overall titles.
24-25 - Whistler Olympic Park hosts its first World Cup ski jumping competition. Over 6,000 spectators turn out on Sunday.
24-25 - The annual ESPN X Games take place in Aspen. Whistler's Sarah Burke is first in ski superpipe, T.J. Schiller is first in ski slopestyle, Stanley Hayer wins the men's ski cross, Spencer O'Brien is second in women's snowboard slopestyle, Kaya Turski places third in women's ski slopestyle.
30 - Whistler's Victoria Whitney is third in a Nor-Am giant slalom, her second medal of the season.
30 - Tyler Mosher tops the para snowboarding nationals.
30-31 - Freestylers add four more medals to their tally at Deer Valley, two in moguls and two in aerials.
5-8 - Whistler hosts World Cup bobsleigh and skeleton events at the Whistler Sliding Centre. In skeleton, Canadians Jon Montgomery and Jeff pain are first and third on the men's side, while Melissa Hollingsworth sets a new women's record for the sport. The women's bobsleigh team of Kallie Humphries and Heather Boyse earns a silver medal, while Pierre Lueders and David Bissett win bronze for the men.
6-7 - Perfect conditions for the annual Peak to Valley race. The Way She Goes is the top team with a combined time of 23:40.04 on the 5.75 km giant slalom course, which runs from the top of The Saddle and finishes in Creekside.
7-8 - Jen Segger places second in the 24 Hours of Sunlight Randonee Race in Wyoming, climbing over 10,000 vertical metres.
7 - John Kucera ends the alpine team's podium drought with a gold medal in the world championship downhill.
7-8 - Canadian freestylers win eight medals, including five gold, at World Cup test events at Cypress. There is a podium sweep on the men's side in ski cross - Chris DelBosco, Stan Hayer and Davey Barr - while Aleisha Clina wins the women's race and Ashleigh McIvor picks up the silver medal. Steve Omischl wins gold in aerials and Alexandre Bilodeau and Jenn Heil win gold in moguls.
13-16 - Whistler skiers reach the podium at the K2 Gold Cup and Enquist Slalom. Broderick Thompson wins all three of his Gold Cup races and one Enquist race, while Kailee Darlington wins two gold and a silver in the Gold Cup and two gold medals in the Enquist.
14 - WMSC skiers dominate the inaugural B.C. Ski Cross Championship. In the FIS category Marielle Thompson and Nadia Samer are first and second for the women, and Ian McDonald is second for the men.
15 - Whistler's Maëlle Ricker three-peats at the Mt. Baker Banked Slalom.
15 - Whistler's Mike Janyk makes history with a bronze medal in the alpine world championships.
16 - Four Whistler athletes earn Premier's Athletic Awards for the previous year. Recipients are skier Conrad Pridy, mountain biker Tyler Allison, snowboarder Helen Schettini and para-alpine skier Sam Daniels.
20-22 - Whistler hosts a Luge World Cup test event, where a new course record of 153.9 km/h is set by Germany's Felix Loch.
21 - Maëlle Ricker ends her snowboardcross medal streak with a silver. Jeff Batchelor wins the halfpipe.
21 - Alex Bilodeau takes the overall men's mogul title after claiming another gold medal.
22 - The 31 st annual Whistler Loppet takes place. The fastest male on the 30 km course is Matt Neumann, while Repo Mintt-Maija is the top female racer.
28-29 - WMSC skiers top K1 Western Championships and Canadian J1 Championships. K1 medals go to Kelly Steeves, Dalton Pehota and Rachel Vanderveen. William Konantz wins a J1 medal.
28 - Caley Vanular and Andrew Burns top the Showcase Showdown Backyard Jam.
27-28 - Ashleigh McIvor wins the ski cross world championship in Japan after nearly failing to qualify. Davey Bar is third.
28 - Maëlle Ricker wins gold in snowboardcross.
6-8 - Whistler Olympic Park hosts a Para-Nordic World Cup event to prepare for the Paralympics. Visually-impaired skier Brian McKeever and guide/brother Robin McKeever win three gold medals, while Robbi Wheldon and guide Brian Berry are third in one event.
7-8 - Local athletes take part in the Junior National Freestyle Championships. Highlights are a third place finish for Yuki Tsubota in dual moguls, a second for Nicola Halliwell in big air and a silver for Taylor Wilson.
8 - Manuel Osborne-Paradis wins his first career World Cup race, the downhill at Kvitfjell, Norway. He follows with a bronze the next day.
12-15 - The Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team wins the IPC Nations Cup for the first time at the test event in Whistler. Medals go to Josh Dueck, Lauren Woolstencroft, Viviane Forest and Kimberly Joines.
13-15 - Whistler Olympic Park hosts a biathlon World Cup test event. The venue passes with flying colours.
14 - Julia Murray makes the ski cross podium for the first time, placing third in Switzerland.
14-15 - WMSC K2 skiers top the provincial championships, with Broderick Thompson and Kailee Darlington crowned as the overall champions.
21-22 - At the K1 provincials the WMSC takes 14 of a possible 36 medals.
21 - Will Routley places second on the first stage and eventually finishes eighth overall in the Redlands Bicycle Classic.
21 - Maëlle Ricker wins gold at the last World Cup snowboardcross in Italy, her second win of the season. Her Squamish roommate, Sarah Conrad, earns the first medal of the season for the women's halfpipe team. All-in-all, the Canadian Snowboard Federation had its best season ever with 23 World Cup medals and three medals at the World Championships. Whistler athletes helped, with Ricker winning four medals and additional medals from Crispin Lipscomb, Justin Lamoureux and Brad Martin.
21-22 - Logan Pehota goes five for five at the Western K2 nationals, with two gold medals, two silvers and a bronze. Also reaching the podium multiple times are Blake Ramsden and Sofi Leroux.
22-27 - Jen Segger places second in the Rock and Ice Ultra in the Yukon Territories, a six-day, 225 km race. Segger races in the snowshoe category.
28-29 - Keeley Wentzel is first all around in her age category at the Zone 5 gymnastics championships in Whistler, going on to represent the club at the provincials. A total of seven athletes qualify.
3-5 - WMSC skiers Broderick Thompson and Kailee Darlington earn silver medals at the K2 national championships.
3-5 - Whistler snowboaders Maëlle Ricker, Sarah Conrad and Brad Martin claim national titles in snowboardcross, halfpipe and halfpipe respectively.
10-12 - Canada wins the Whistler Cup, led by WMSC skiers Broderick Thompson (gold medal in super G, bronze in slalom) and Kailee Darlington (silver in super G).
17-19 - Tyler Allison wins the Super D race at the Sea Otter Classic and is third in cross-country; Nick Geddes is second in the dual slalom.
18 - Team Volkl wins the Orage Masters freeskiing contest in wet conditions.
18 - Shinji Osada of Japan wins the World Skiing Invitational big air.
19 - David Wise and Dania Assaly win the WSI superpipe.
19 - A total of 91 Whistler runners take part in the annual Vancouver Sun Run. John Blok posts the top time by a local, 39:05 for the 10 km course.
19 - Locals hold their own in most contests at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, with Craig Beaulieu winning the final slopestyle event - and $10,001, the largest prize ever presented at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival.
21-25 - Danny Kass brings his pro Grenade Games contest to Whistler with five events.
30 - WORCA hosts its earliest Toonie Ride (formerly Loonie Race) ever.
2 - The annual WORCA bike swap results in $107,000 in sales, raising $12,000 for youth dirt camps and other youth programs.
16 - The Whistler Mountain Bike Park opens despite the late snow and lingering snowpack.
16 - Whistler locals on the podium at the Squamish Ore Crusher are Mahon Lamont and Jack Iles (first and second in the 12-13 age category), Sarah O'Byrne (second in 30 to 34), Robin O'Neill (first in 35 to 39), Caroline Lamont (first in 45 to 49) and Gin Ming (first in 50-plus).
23 - Whistler's Kevin Hodder and L.J. Wilson of Squamish are first in the team of two category at the Squamish MOMAR adventure race.
23 - Lesley Clements wins her category at the North Shore Bike Fest cross-country marathon. Other locals on the XC podium are Dylan Wolsky and Seb Kemp. In downhill Tyler Morland is the guy to beat. Other local riders to win medals are J.S. Therrien, Meghan Illingworth, Jamie Hill, James McSkimming and Lauren Rosser.
23 - The Whistler Tri Club hosts the annual Kids of Steel and Try-a-Tri triathlons. Too many local results to mention but results are still online at www.whistlertriclub.ca.
24 - The annual Whistler Valley Trail Run takes place. The fastest times in the 10K are posted by Tim Naylor on the men's side and Care Wakely in the women's event.
30-31 - Will Routley wins the two-day Mutual of Enumclaw road stage race in Washington for the third straight year.
6 - Squamish's Miranda Miller wins the U.S. Open downhill mountain bike race.
8 - Whistler's Victoria Whitney is named to the national development team for alpine skiing.
17 - The first Whistler Sailing Club race of the season, after more than a decade on hiatus, draws 14 boats.
20 - The annual Squamish Test of Metal bike race takes place. Matt Ryan is the fastest Whistler rider in 2:40:31. Whistler medallists include Mike Boehm (first in 35 to 39), Mike Charuk (second in 45 to 49), Keith Ray (first in 40 to 44), James McSkimming (third in 20 to 29), Bob Allison (first in 50 to 54), Rob McSkimming (second in 50 to 54), Robin O'Neill (second in 35 to 39), Cathryn Zeglinski (first in 45 to 49) and Jennifer McSkimming (second in 40 to 44).
27 - Local riders take part in the provincial mountain bike championships at Burnaby Mountain. Keith Ray is first in 40 to 44, Tony Routley first in 50-plus, Jesse Melamed third in Junior Men 17 to 18, Mike Boehm second in 30 to 39.
27 - The 25 km Comfortably Numb Trail Run takes place. Victoria's Adam Campbell wins the men's race in 1:55:28, and Jen Segger the women's race in 2:20:01.
1 - Will Routley wins the Yaletown Grand Prix.
3 - Locals take part in the Canada Cup at Bromont, Quebec. Rebecca McQueen wins the women's downhill race, followed by Squamish's Miranda Miller.
5 - At the annual Squamish Triathlon, Marie-Anne Prevost is the top Whistler athlete, winning the 35 to 39 category in 2:19:15 (less than eight months after giving birth to her daughter).
9-12 - The inaugural Four Jacks bike race is unveiled. It's a four-stage mountain bike challenge where athletes use one bike and one set of tires to race four very different events - a Loonie race, a downhill from the top of Garbanzo, a marathon with huge climbs and a technical punch through Emerald's dreaded "No Flow" zone. The top male is Matt Ryan, the top female Sylvie Allen and the top junior Jesse Melamed.
10-12 - The mountain bike nationals take place in Quebec. Tyler Allison is second in the cross-country.
12 - Will Routley is third in the Tour de Delta.
12 - Greg Sandkuhl wins his age category at the Personal Desert Half Iron in Osoyoos.
18-19 - Three local riders win their categories at the B.C. Cup cross-country race at Whistler Olympic Park; Joanna Harrington in senior elite, Jesse Melamed in Junior 17 to 18 and Bob Allison in Master 50-plus.
18 - Whistler's Fiona Halliwell places first among women in the nine kilometre Bay Challenge swimming race from Sandy Cove in West Vancouver to Kitsilano Beach.
18 - Claire Buchar wins her first national downhill mountain bike title. She is followed by Rebecca McQueen. Max Horner and Nick Geddes are second and third in the Under 17 race.
18 - Kevin Titus's Knee Knacker record falls after five years, with Aaron Heidt - who holds the record on the Comfortably Numb, Rubble Creek Classic and Lumpy's Epic Courses - beating his mark by two minutes.
25 - In the cross country mountain bike nationals, Tyler Allison is second while Tony Routley and Bob Allison are second and third in the 50 to 59 category.
25 - After years of coming close Matt Ryan finally wins the 52 km Squamish GearJammer. Jesse Melamed is second for the juniors.
1 - Tyler Mosher wins the world's first adaptive snowboard title in New Zealand.
8 - A Whistler team sets a new course record in the STORMY 50-mile (80 km) relay in Squamish. The Whistler Mountain Masochists finish the course in 6:49:01.
8-15 - Crankworx! Locals factor in almost every race but highlights include Matt Ryan's second place finish in the Canadian Open Enduro, behind Brian Lopes, and Brendan Semenuk's second place finish in the premiere slopestyle event.
22 - Whistler's 5 Peaks race brings out close to 500 runners. The top local is Lee Churchill, fourth overall, followed closely by Ben Biswell.
29 - WORCA celebrates 20 years at Worcapalooza.
30 - Nine Sea to Sky athletes finish Ironman Canada. Mike Edwards, Cristina McKean, Nicole Waine, Taralyn Day, Nancy Johnston, Volker Schneider, Timothy Moore, Zak Gilson and Daniel Stiner.
27-31 - Jen Segger runs and bikes from Cape Scott at the north tip of Vancouver Island to Victoria, non-stop.
5-6 - Claire Buchar is sixth in downhill at the world mountain bike championships. Local Willow Koerber is third in the cross-country race.
6 - Around the date where WORCA surpasses 1,500 members for the first time in club history.
12 - The West Side Wheel Up takes place. Matt Ryan is the top male and Ann yew the top female. The top junior is Jesse Melamed.
13 - Ben Biswell wins the Squamish Loop the Lakes 15 km run in 1:05:46. Walter Wallgram wins the 50-plus category in 1:16:28.
19 - The Cheakamus Challenge 70 km mountain bike epic takes place. Whistler category winners are Joanna Harrington, Cathryn Zeglinski, Brenda Baker, Mike Boehm and Eric Crowe.
20 - Duncan Munro places third in the long distance category of the XTC off-road triathlon in Squamish.
27 - The Rubble Creek Classic Trail Run takes place. Ben Biswell is the top local racer, finishing fourth, while Mike Edwards takes the Month of Pain title.
26-27 - The second annual Whistler Spirit Run takes place at Whistler Olympic Park. Too many results to list, but Ashley McMillan is the top runner in the 10 km race in 39:50.
11 - Brenda Baker wins the 55 to 59 age category and is 15 th among women in the Royal Victoria Marathon with a chip time of 3:08:00. Adjusted for age, she is the fastest woman overall. Second place in her category was 35 minutes back.
12 - Last day for the bike park, and the end of another record-breaking season for ridership.
24 - Local boxers in training Andrew Wark and Geoff Bate win their first sanctioned fights. Heading into the New Year, both boxers are still undefeated with records of 2-0 and 3-0 respectively.
25 - Greg Sandkuhl wins the 65 to 69 age group at the World Long Distance Triathlon Championships in Perth, Australia.
23 - Mike Janyk places third in a dual slalom race on an artificial course in Moscow, earning $20,000.
30 - Manuel Osborne-Paradis wins World Cup gold in the super G at Lake Louise.
3-5 - Emily Brydon wins silver and bronze medals at World Cup downhill races in Lake Louise.
11-13 - Pemberton's Kristi Richards wins gold and silver in the opening World Cup mogul events.
19 - Manuel Osborne-Paradis wins his second gold of the season, this time in the downhill at Val Gardena, Italy.
12 - Maëlle Ricker wins the World Cup snowboardcross in Telluride.