Ski jump here to stay, say Olympic officials 

100 people turn out for update on Olympic preparations

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The ski jumps at the Whistler 2010 Olympic Nordic Centre will not be temporary, they will be seasonal.

That’s the latest from project director Doug Ewing, who said the design team wanted to make the venue as flexible as possible.

"I think there was a misunderstanding about what it means to be temporary," said Ewing, one of 19 presenters at the first comprehensive open house hosted by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games in Whistler last Thursday night.

"Really what they should have been saying is seasonal, which is quite different in the ski jumping community, as it is a ski jump you only use in the winter time.

"The jumps have been designed so that in the future if they chose to take them down they can, that is not a problem, and if they choose not to then they will last.

"Whether they stand one year or 20 it is the same design."

For the first time the audience also saw an architect’s drawing of the day lodge at the site of the $110 million Nordic Centre venue in the Callaghan Valley south-west of Whistler.

The 10,000 square-foot, post and beam building includes a 200-seat open-plan restaurant and grill with two fireplaces, outside deck seating, an equipment rental area, retail outlet and other facilities.

Ewing is looking at geothermal heat and the plan is to harvest the heat from dishwashers and the electrical room. It will be a LEED silver building.

Not all of the venues in use for the Games will be needed afterwards. For that reason land that has been cleared for temporary use will have the topsoil taken off and stored. Then a geotechnical material will be laid on top before temporary buildings are erected.

Post Games, the temporary facilities will be removed, the topsoil brought back, and the area will be seeded with grass to create meadows.

The venue will be a legacy of the Games and will be run by the Whistler Legacies Society, with the help of an endowment from the federal and provincial governments. The endowment is part of the overall budget for venue development which is being jointly funded by the two levels of government.

Ewing also explained that the Nordic centre has been shrunk and facilities moved where necessary to protect the environment.

"The K-125 and K-95 jumps, for example, were moved out of an area which had old growth (forest)," he said.

The Nordic centre, due to open in 2008, will leave behind 40-50 kilometres of trails for winter and summer use. It’s hoped that a 5-kilometre length of track will be paved and lit and left for roller-blading and summer training.

During the 2010 Games there will be 28 Olympic medal events in Nordic and 20 Paralympic medal events.

Adding more legacy trails is under discussion. The site can be used for summer and winter non-motorized use.

Tom Barratt, president of the Whistler Nordics Club, welcomed the plans.

"This is only a good thing as far as we are concerned," he said this week.

The club is working on growing membership through its Thursday night Loonie Races and is looking forward to strong involvement in the lead up to the 2010 Olympics.

Barratt believes the centre will bring clubs from the Lower Mainland to Whistler and he is hoping the clubs can get together and find some synergies.

"We think there may possibly be a lot of sharing of programs and cultures and so on," he said, adding that he hopes a permanent athletes training centre, planned as part of the legacy athletes village, will help boost Nordic sport in the area.

There’s no doubt the venue will also bring destination cross-country vacationers to Whistler and it will offer many family activities, such as snowshoeing, dog sled rides, and more.

Close to 100 people took in the three-hour presentation where details of all the Whistler venues were revealed and VANOC officials brought the community up to date on the event’s progress.

This summer saw a practice piece of the $55 million Whistler Sliding Centre on Blackcomb Mountain under construction and areas cleared for road access and the track. The sliding centre will be finished by 2007, after which it will host test and other sliding events. Track users will travel up to 130 km/h down the 1,450 metres of concrete track, which will include 16 corners.

The track will be open for tourist use after the Games, in both summer and winter.

For the alpine ski events on Whistler Mountain. $23 million will be spent to re-grade and widen runs and add snowmaking. Approximately 7,500 spectators will view the finish line at Creekside.

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