Olympics moving into operational phase 

Organizers of the 2010 Games spent more money on Whistler venues this quarter than anywhere else.

For the three months ending Jan. 31, 2008 $6.3 million was spent on the Whistler Sliding Centre, $6.4 million was spent on the Whistler Athletes’ Centre, $1.2 million was spent on Whistler Creekside and $8.1 million was spent on Whistler Olympic Park.

The information is part of the latest quarterly financial report, released March 14 by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games (VANOC).

The spending is in line with the push by VANOC to get the construction finished as soon as possible as it moves into the operational phase.

“While we’re pleased with the progress to date, we also know that many tests lie ahead, as is expected in the normal course of staging the Games,” said VANOC chief operating officer John Furlong.

“With construction at the mountain venues substantially complete and our first sport events under out belt, our team is moving deeper into the operational phase.

“It’s an important time for our team as we learn valuable lessons that will ultimately prepare us to stage extraordinary Games in 2010.”

VANOC’s total venue development expenditures for the quarter were $38.4 million, as compared to $63.3 million in the previous quarter, and now total $466.3 million. The venue budget of $580 million is funded equally by the provincial and federal governments.

The contingency is now at $27.05 million.

“Management considers the venue program fully funded and is confident of completing the venue program at a cash cost at, or under, $580 million,” stated the report.

However, the report goes on to say there are still possible perils ahead, including performance risks such as weather, risks to VANOC’s reputation which may damage sponsorship support, volatility of the Canadian dollar, and the fact that all sponsorship dollar amounts are not locked in yet.

VANOC concentrated on its contingency plans for weather problems at the recent FIS Alpine World Cup events in Whistler. In one case it moved an event ahead 30 minutes to take advantage of a good weather window.

The Whistler test events also saw a record number of snow cats working to keep the runs in tip-top form. They were purchased or leased by VANOC and are one reason why the Sport and Games Operations budget was up, as several outdoor venues became operational.

This past season there were 16 Piston Bully snow cats working on the alpine venue on Whistler Mountain, four in the Callaghan Valley at Whistler Olympic Park, and three at the freestyle venue on Cypress Mountain.

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