Business community goes to school on Games 

Park City, VANOC, Whistler officials share perspectives on Olympics

There was toilet town and tinsel town.

Along with strong sporting venues both were absolutely essential to the success of the Winter Olympic Games in Utah in 2002.

"You need to plan for everything you can think of and then you need to be flexible," Bill Malone, executive director of the Park City Chamber of Commerce, told over 200 people at a conference in Whistler on preparing to host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Since Whistler and Vancouver were chosen last summer to host the 2010 Olympics, tourism experts, business owners, athletes, trainers, governments, and communities have been working out what the Games will mean to them.

Last Thursday, April 29 Tourism Whistler brought together some of the people on the front lines of the Salt Lake 2002 Games, leaders in tourism and members of the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) to try and offer some answers.

"We can’t just rush out without a plan," said Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly.

"This is information about what’s going on, the steps that are being taken, and we are learning a lot from people who have hosted Games previously."

While the Games have not been in the news much recently plans have been moving ahead at a fever pitch.

The sliding centre site on Blackcomb Mountain was under review this week by one of only two men in the world who engineer the curves on bobsleigh/luge tracks.

VANOC expects to go to final design stage this year with the site complete and ready for Canadian teams to practice on by October 2007 said Terry Wright, a consultant to VANOC and former VP of bid development and operations.

Plans for the Nordic centre in the Callaghan Valley, 22 kilometres from Whistler, are facing some changes as the sport of cross country skiing moves to mass-start events.

"There has been a very dramatic change in the sport," said Wright.

"So now the skier who crosses the line first actually comes first."

The Whistler Nordic Centre, at $102 million the most expensive venue, is also the venue which will cause the most disruption to the environment, since it is being built in an undeveloped area.

For that reason even more environmental studies are now being undertaken.

It was also revealed that the municipality is considering building an addition to the current sports and recreation centre in Meadow Park for the Paralympic sledge hockey arena. That would be a considerably less expensive option than building the proposed multi-plex centre in the village which has a price tag of $40 million.


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