The Whistler Sliding Centre committed to permanent sport legacy for
high-performance athletes

Venue will also host development and public program; complement Calgary sliding track

WHISTLER, BC, Feb. 27 /CNW/ - The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), the Fédération Internationale de Luge de Course (FIL) and the Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing (FIBT) today confirmed post-Games plans for The Whistler Sliding Centre, Olympic competition venue for luge, skeleton and bobsleigh. Top ranking Canadian sliding athletes in bobsleigh, skeleton, and luge gathered this morning at the Whistler Media Centre to express their support of Canada's sliding sport facilities.

"I cannot express how proud I am to have won gold on our home track," said Heather Moyse, 2010 Olympic gold medallist in women's bobsleigh. "I'm very excited for future Canadian athletes to have the opportunity to train and compete at a world-class facility like The Whistler Sliding Centre."

After the last four-man bobsleigh goes down the track this afternoon, the venue will begin its transition from Olympic mode into its post-Games legacy operations. Transition will take place June 1, after Games-time loadout. Headed by the Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies group, the venue will complement the sliding track at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, as a lasting legacy in the training of the Canadian national luge, bobsled and skeleton teams, as well as young aspiring sliding athletes through its junior programs and public initiatives.

"Ever since the bid, the goal for The Whistler Sliding Centre has been to thrive as a legacy for sliding sports post Games," said Cathy Priestner Allinger, VANOC's executive vice president, sport and Games operations. "Having two sliding tracks in Canada, and now four in North America, is extremely important in growing these sports at home and abroad. We're proud of the key role this venue has played in pre-Games training and competition, its Games time use, and we're confident The Whistler Sliding Center will continue to flourish for years to come."

"For the Canadian team, the best way to grow in the sliding sports is to train as much as possible, on tracks that will test the sliders' skills and athleticism," said Jeff Christie, a Canadian luge athlete. "Having two tracks in Canada now, and with the technical nature of The Whistler Sliding Centre, I am extremely optimistic about the future of Canadian sliding, and the growth of the sliding sports here in Canada, North America, and ultimately the world."

The Whistler Sliding Centre will also continue to host the world's top athletes at international competitions. Both international sporting federations are planning world cup competitions in Whistler after 2010.

"The Whistler Sliding Centre will be one of the classic tracks on the FIBT World Cup circuit," said FIBT president Robert Storey. "The FIBT fully intends to have annual world cups in Whistler along with development programs and junior circuit races in both bobsleigh and skeleton."

Along with future international events in bobsleigh and skeleton, the FIL will also utilize the venue for luge training programs and world-class events. While looking ahead to the future of luge at The Whistler Sliding Centre, the federation continues to mourn the loss of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the 21-year-old Georgian luger who died on February 12 after an accident during a training run.

"We will never forget the tragic loss of Nodar Kumaritashvili, and our thoughts continue to be with his friends, family and the sliding community," said Svein Romstad, FIL's secretary general. "I cannot think of a better way to honour Nodar's spirit than to ensure that athletes of all ages and skill sets utilize The Whistler Sliding Centre and grow the sport of luge. The future of this track is bright and the FIL will continue to work closely with the FIBT, the Canadian Luge Association and Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies to foster a movement of sport that the world will be proud of."

In addition to hosting high-performance athletes, The Whistler Sliding Centre will continue with several innovative grassroots programs in the community to grow future athletes and fans of the sliding sports. Since its inception, The Whistler Sliding Centre has hosted luge, skeleton and bobsleigh development programs, venue tours and passenger ride testing. These initiatives will continue when the venue begins its legacy phase.

    
    British Columbia Luge Association (BCLA) Program:
    -   10 local children, aged eight- to 14-years-old, slide three to four
        times per week
    -   1,237 runs were taken by the participants, including three British
        Columbia Cup races and one NorAm youth race.
    -   The program also included seven on-ice recruitment camps, totalling
        522 runs.

    British Columbia Bobsleigh Skeleton Association (BCBSA) Program
    -   With 148 runs taken, including a driving school and five "Discover
        Skeleton" sessions (totalling 127 runs), the BCBSA Program introduced
        children to the sports of bobsleigh and skeleton.

    Public Tours
    -   The Whistler Sliding Centre has hosted 2,500 public guided tours in
        the summer months, 6,500 public visits to the track during the winter
        months and a total of 35,000 public visits through tours and events
        in total.

    Bobsleigh Passenger Ride Testing
    -   To begin testing the logistics of sending spectators down the track,
        the venue has run eight sessions of 41 sleds in total, whereby
        passengers were able to experience the exhilaration sliding athletes
        feel when manoeuvring the track.
    -   Similar to Calgary Olympic Park's passenger program, The Whistler
        Sliding Centre will host spectator rides post-Games through the
        Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies Society.
    

"We look forward to a vibrant future at the sliding centre in which high-performance athletes, young developing athletes, recreational sliders, and tourists all benefit from time spent on the ice of this exciting new sport facility," said Keith Bennett, president and CEO of Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies Society. "The opportunity to help develop generations of future Olympic competitors and medallists lies ahead."

Background on The Whistler Sliding Centre

The Whistler Sliding Center's inaugural season of operations in 2007/2008 included 335 bobsled runs and 743 skeleton runs. In the 2008/2009 season, there were 2,153 bobsled runs and 3,290 skeleton runs on the track and in 2009/2010 to date there have been 5,336 bobsled and skeleton runs combined. In 2009, two international training weeks and one world cup event were held, hosting on average 17 nations (skeleton), 17 nations (men's bobsled) and 13 nations (women's bobsled). Leading up to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, 30,477 runs were taken when combining all three sports.

About Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies

Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies (WSL2010) is a not-for-profit society that will own and operate three 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games venues after the conclusion of the Games - Whistler Olympic Park, The Whistler Sliding Centre and the Whistler Athletes' Centre. The organization's mission is to operate its Olympic legacy venues to advance high performance sport development and recreational sport participation, in a manner that ensures economic, environmental and social sustainability. For more information, visit www.whistler2010sportlegacies.com.

About VANOC

VANOC is responsible for the planning, organizing, financing and staging of the XXI Olympic Winter Games and the Paralympic Winter Games in 2010. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games will be staged in Vancouver and Whistler from February 12 to 28, 2010. Vancouver and Whistler will host the Paralympic Winter Games from March 12 to 21, 2010. Visit www.vancouver2010.com.

SOURCE VANCOUVER ORGANIZING COMMITTEE FOR THE 2010 OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES

For further information: For further information: Media Contacts: VANOC Media Relations, Tel: (604) 403-1611, E-mail: mediarelations@vancouver2010.com; Chris Dornan, Canadian Sliding Sports Press Attaché, Tel: (604) 345-0024, E-mail:hppchris@comcast.net

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VANCOUVER ORGANIZING COMMITTEE FOR THE 2010 OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES

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