Whistler could host best Paralympics ever 

2010 Bid organizers believe Whistler could shine during games for the disabled

The athletes who compete are anything but relaxed about these Games.

But the Winter Paralympics are a more relaxed, more open competition than its big brother the Winter Olympics.

All the lifts on both Whistler and Blackcomb will remain open; the only runs which will be closed will be the ones used for competitions and training; event tickets are a fraction of the price making the Paralympics accessible to everyone; and all the events will take place in one location, Whistler.

Even the medals will be handed out here in a new arena-entertainment complex which will be built on Lots 1 and 9, should the Games come to town.

The only concession skiers and spectators alike are likely to have to make is to allow athletes priority loading on the gondolas and other lifts.

"We can do an incredible job of putting this on," said Tim Gayda director, operations planning, for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation.

Gayda who spent a considerable amount of time listening and learning at the Salt Lake Winter Olympics last February, said Whistler’s bid already improves on Salt Lake’s excellent event.

"Having all the events up here together is great," said Gayda adding that the events were quite spread out at the Salt Lake Games.

Another disappointment at Salt Lake was the closure of the medal plaza during the Paralympics.

"That was disappointing as an outsider looking in," he said.

The only Paralympic event that would not be held here would be the opening ceremonies, which would be held at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver.

The opening ceremony is seen as an important venue for raising the profile of the sport and organizers believe it should be held where the greatest number of people can be drawn in to watch and learn.

Education is a big part of the Paralympics said Gayda.

School students are brought to the ceremonies as well as to the events to educate and popularize the sports and those who take part.

The closing ceremonies would be held in Whistler.

If Vancouver and Whistler win the right to host the Winter Olympics in 2010 the Paralympics are part of the package.

"In essence it is like a six week festival with two Games," Gayda told a small but interested audience at the most recent Olympic InfoZone meeting.

The Paralympics include alpine skiing – downhill and super G on Whistler and slalom and giant slalom on Blackcomb – biathlon and cross country skiing at the proposed Nordic centre in the Callaghan Valley, sledge ice hockey at the new arena that would be built in Whistler, and wheelchair curling at yet to be determined locations.

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