Let the Games begin 

Downhill race kicks off Olympic events

This is it. Just over six-and-a-half years ago, in July 2003, Canada beat out bids from South Korea and Austria to win the rights to host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, setting off a flurry of activity.

For years, locals have endured road closures, construction projects, endless wrangling with the province over suitable legacies and battles big and small over everything from the location of the athletes' village to the decision to pave the day skier lots.

Meanwhile Canadian athletes have been training, in public and sometimes in secret, honing their skills to be able to do what no Canadian athlete has been able to do - to win a gold medal in an Olympics on home turf.

While Whistler has hosted some major sporting events in the past, from World Cups to World Championships, to standalone festivals like the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival and Crankworx, there's never been anything like this here - despite the fact that the impetus for developing Whistler as a ski resort came from a failed Olympic bid.

Whistler will host more than half of all medal events at the 2010 Games - all of the Nordic events (cross-country, biathlon, ski jumping and nordic combined), all of the alpine events (slalom, giant slalom, downhill, super G and super combined) and all of the sliding events (bobsleigh, skeleton and luge).

As well, Whistler and Sea to Sky athletes will be competing at events at Cypress Mountain this week.

If you don't have tickets to any events you might want to check in at the ticket booth by the Whistler Celebration Plaza to see what's available - there are still tickets available to locals for some events, and additional blocks of tickets are still being released. As well, you can watch all the events on various screens at Live Sites around Whistler Village, as well as at home on CTV.

Here's a rundown of the first half of the Games:

 

Friday, Feb. 12

The men's Normal Hill Qualification Round ski jumping competition takes place at Whistler Olympic Park from 10 a.m. to around 11:05 a.m., and will be broadcast live on screens in Skier's Plaza, Village Square, Village Common and Town Plaza.

There's a Pre-Olympic Show at 4:30 p.m., followed by the Opening Ceremonies at 6:30 p.m. Both will be broadcast on village screens.

 

Saturday, Feb. 13

The men's downhill ski race kicks off the medal events for the 2010 Games on Saturday morning. Canada is a contender in this event with Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Robbie Dixon racing on their home track and Erik Guay skiing consistently on the World Cup circuit.

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