The Whistler Olympic Park, the site of the 2010 Olympic competitions in Cross-Country, Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined as well as Biathlon, celebrated its official opening last Saturday. As late as early afternoon on Friday the park had no snow, but right in time for the celebrations at noon on Saturday it snowed up to 30 cm overnight.
On Saturday, it was time for the official inauguration of the 1,020-square-meter day lodge to mark the start of the public skiing season. Last winter, the services for the $119-million Olympic Park were run out of portable cabins. Now a brand new lodge located halfway between the ski jumps and the finish line for the cross-country venue will serve as a focal point for the new venue which plays a key role in the legacy planning for the 2010 Games in the Whistler area. VANOC is expecting up to 500 people a day to use the day lodge during the weekends, and some 100 a day on a regular weekday. Appropriately for the wild surroundings in Callaghan Valley near Whistler, rather than a traditional ribbon-cutting, the inauguration featured sawing the final piece of furniture for the lodge, designated for the park’s director, VANOC’s sport director and the driving force behind the venue’s construction, John Aalberg.
The Whistler Olympic Park will host its premiere FIS World Cup events from 15th-18th January as both the Viessmann FIS Cross-Country and DKB FIS Nordic Combined World Cup tours will visit the venue for the final test events before the Olympic competitions in February 2010. The following weekend, 23rd -25th February, the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup will take place on the new hills.
For Saturday's kickoff, the public were invited to ski and snowshoe for free, and offered tours on the small ski hill and a chance to try shooting at the biathlon range.