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Whistler and Vancouver Travel Guide: Beauty of 2010 Winter Olympic Village

As the Olympic and Paralympic Village, it couldn’t happen in a more spectacular setting in Whistler and Vancouver. Dense waterfront forests, glimmering blue waters and kilometres of crisp snow crunch. This is the National Geographic beauty of Canada’s British Columbia.

And come February, mythical snow-capped Whistler and glass-towered Vancouver will be all glammed up for their starring role as hosts of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Right now, the biggest concern is snow will there be enough?

But by the time the Games roll around from February 12-28, your biggest concern may well be $10 coffees because while the Olympics will deliver gold, it will also take away.

What the?

There’s no missing the stone statue or inukshuk (pronounced inn-uuk-shook) that towers above the entrance of the Whistler Olympic Park Nordic Sports venue. A contemporary version of the “inukshuk” is the official emblem of the Games.

The Inuit people have stacked rocks into the human form to create inukshuks for centuries, to act as markers. But the Games version means friend and they are placed at stadiums to greet the world.

Accommodation

I’ve known family members to spend their entire Olympic experience sleeping on the floor of an international airport. A place to stay will be your biggest headache Vancouver’s hotels are almost fully booked.

The Norwegian Star is docking on the North Shore, only 10 minutes from downtown Vancouver, with cabins starting at $650 a night.

Spectators can also find digs in Vancouver’s surrounding cities, such as Richmond, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Abbotsford and Squamish.

Spectators will be able to use buses, the Skytrain, ferries (SeaBus), and rail (West Coast Express).

Grand old dame of the mountain, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, which reigns over the valley from the base of Blackcomb Mountain, has rooms starting at $1330 a night, minimum four-night stay.

Plenty of Vancouverites are offering their homes for rent.

But keep in mind, nothing will come cheap. A three-bed home a block from the figure skating venue at Pacific Coliseum will cost $4000 a week.

Transport

Public transport is your friend.

The easiest way to get from Vancouver International Airport to downtown Vancouver is on the new Canada Line Skytrain. It’s a hassle-free 26-minute ride costing about $3.75. Canada Line is also the best option to get to Richmond Olympic Oval to see the speed skating.

As for the mountains, shuttle bus is the way to go. The Olympic Bus Network will run frequent buses to Cypress Mountain and Whistler Mountain. Getting to Cypress will cost about $14 for a round trip and Whistler is $27 for a round trip, plus tax. Buses depart from around Metro Vancouver.

Private cars will not be able to travel to Whistler unless a car park has been arranged with your accommodation.

Event tickets
The official Australian provider for Olympic tickets is CoSport, which is now in its third phase of ticketing for the Games. This means that while tickets will be confirmed within 24 hours of purchase, they will need to be collected from CoSports’ Vancouver or Whistler offices.

You won’t see Australia’s Michelle Steele in the skeleton as the event is sold out but you can still jag a ticket to the men’s and women’s hockey.

For $81, you can see Latvia play Slovakia in the men’s hockey and for $40, you can see China play Russia in the women’s hockey preliminaries.

The great news is, Vancouver’s Olympic Committee is finalising an official ticket re-sale site.

Event locations

Whistler

More than 90 per cent of Whistler’s ski fields will still be open to the public. There will also be a free outdoor network of performances and Whistler Live! will capture every medal presentation on large-screen TVs. The Savage Beagle Bar will be party central, with members of the 1988 Jamaican bobsleigh team of Cool Runnings fame agreeing to make this bar their nightly headquarters.

Whistler will also have three competition venues.

1. Whistler Sliding Centre: Bobsleigh, skeleton and luge.

2. Whistler Creekside: Downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom, super combined.

3. Whistler Olympic Park: Ski jumping, nordic combined, cross-country skiing, biathlon.

Vancouver

1. Canada Hockey Place (also known as GM Place) ice hockey finals.

2. University of British Columbia Thunderbird Arena ice hockey preliminaries.

3. Vancouver Olympic Centre Curling.

4. Pacific Coliseum Figure skating, short-track speed skating.

Richmond

Richmond Olympic Oval Speed skating

West Vancouver

Cypress Mountain Freestyle skiing (aerials, moguls, ski cross) and snowboarding (parallel giant slalom, halfpipe, snowboard cross)

Non-competition venues

Vancouver

BC Place, Vancouver Opening and Closing ceremonies and nightly Victory Celebrations. Olympic and Paralympic Village.

Whistler

Olympic and Paralympic Village

Whistler Medals Plaza nightly medal presentations plus live entertainment.

Party sites

Around Vancouver

Robson Square: LiveCity Downtown and LiveCity

Yaletown: You’ll be able to go ice skating free and even have a go at a flying fox (zip-trekking in Canadian speak) across fashionable Robson St. There is also a nightly closing show.

Richmond

It’s all happening at the O Zone. Holland’s Heineken House will be party central.

Richmond will be celebrating Chinese New Year. Great place for banquets.

Grouse MountainFifteen minutes from downtown Vancouver, it will be open 24 hours a day. NBC’s Today Show will broadcast live from Grouse each morning.

Whistler

It’s no secret that Whistler loves to party. Skier’s Plaza, near the base of Whistler Mountain, promises to be the liveliest spot in the village. Giant screens will broadcast Olympic events, ceremonies and concerts.



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