Olympic officials are looking
at ways to get more spectators along the alpine downhill courses, build more
features for the racers, and are checking their plans for spectator access to
the venue after the World Cup downhill test event last weekend.
They are also breathing a
sigh of relief since the event, co-hosted with Alpine Canada and the
International Ski Federation (FIS), was held mostly under clear skies. It is
the first time Whistler has hosted a World Cup in 13 years after weather caused
the cancellation of three consecutive World Cups in the ‘90s and led to the
resort losing its downhill event.
However, the good weather
also meant that the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games (VANOC)
did not get to put their course preparation team of close to 900 volunteers to
the test in adverse conditions.
“You kind of want a little
bit of the weather to test the people,” said Tim Gayda, VANOC’s vice president
“But in the end… from an
event perspective, and the television, and the crowds it was good to have that
Earlier this month, during
the Pontiac GMC Canadian Championships on Whistler, VANOC volunteers working
alongside the famous Whistler Weasel Workers had their fill of challenging
weather with huge snowfalls and poor visibility.
“I think the Canadian
Championships was a good lesson,” said Gayda.
“It had a tonne of weather
they had to deal with. The volunteers got run ragged and you can’t keep that
pace up forever. You have to cycle these people out. They have to get rest.
Seventeen days of the Olympics can be a very long time if you get tough
All but about 160 of the
volunteers for the World Cup were from the Sea to Sky region. Gayda said he
expects that at Games time about 1,200 to 1,400 volunteers will be needed for
the alpine events and 25 snow cats will be there to help move snow.
“You definitely ramp up
bodies and cats to make sure you can deal with whatever Mother Nature throws at
you,” he said.
There were some reports that
a few racers found the World Cup speed courses, approved by the FIS, not
Gayda said those comments
should be taken with “a grain of salt.”
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