Testing successfully complete at bobsleigh and skeleton sport event

    Sold-out crowd cheers on sliding athletes from around the world

    WHISTLER, BC, Feb. 7 /CNW/ - The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the
2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) successfully completed its
operational testing today at the bobsleigh and skeleton sport events at The
Whistler Sliding Centre, which ran from February 5 to 7. As approximately 250
athletes from 24 countries battled for track bragging rights, VANOC tested
field of play, workforce, Games-time operations and trained potential
Games-time volunteers over the course of three training days and three
competition days. The venue will also host the luge sport event from February
20 to 21.
    As enthralled spectators watched and cheered, the world's best sliding
athletes received their own boost from the boisterous crowd.
    "It is so incredible to be racing here in Whistler," said Canadian
women's bobsleigh silver medallist Heather Moyse. "We never see this many
people at a race in North America. It is just so amazing because all of these
screaming Canadians are the ones who we are racing for."
    The week prior to the Fédération internationale de bobsleigh et de
tobogganing (FIBT) Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup, The Whistler Sliding
Centre held the FIBT International Training Week. Similar to the Fédération
internationale de luge de course (FIL) International Training Week held in
November, 2008, the FIBT International Training Week saw 250 athletes from 24
countries learn the intricacies of the track's technical turns - all in
preparation for the bobsleigh and skeleton sport event and Olympic
competitions in 2010.
    "The last few weeks have been really important for The Whistler Sliding
Centre," said Tim Gayda, VANOC vice president, sport. "With more athletes than
ever before training and competing and the FIBT technical delegates on-site
providing positive feedback on the track it's the first time we've been able
to host thousands of spectators at the venue to get a taste of the fastest
sports on ice."
    The sliding sport events provide VANOC with a valuable opportunity to
test the field of play on one of the fastest and most technical tracks in the

    Ice and Field of Play

    With the FIBT International Training Week taking place days prior to the
bobsleigh and skeleton sport events, this was the first time the track saw the
intensity and volume of sleds over a sustained period of time - requiring the
track's experienced ice team to put their world-renowned status to work to
maintain the integrity of the ice.
    "The track was definitely put to the test with the sheer number of runs
in such a short amount of time," said Craig Lehto, director, The Whistler
Sliding Centre. "We have the three best ice makers in the world working with
us, so from a track and ice standpoint, we have all the experience that the
world can deliver right now."
    Seen as both an art and a science, ice maintenance was the biggest test
for the venue this week. Throughout training and competition, the track's
corner profiles (shape of a corner, typically a constructed concrete structure
with layers of ice on top) had to be adjusted to manage a level playing field.
    "With the changes in temperature, our team really had to make the
profiles on the fast corners more forgiving on an as-needed basis," Lehto
continued, "However, we can only control so much, as ultimately it is the
pilots and weather that choose the sled's destiny."
    Another factor affecting the track was the weather at the venue all week
- running the gamut including: fog, rain, light snow, sunny skies, low
humidity and chilly nights. Such variance required track shades to be pulled
down to protect the ice from melting or key areas to be "spritzed" with water
to re-build ice.


    While smaller than at Games time, a specialized team of approximately 118
workforce and 276 volunteers worked back-to-back weeks at the sport event and
International Training Week - providing a true taste of the contribution
needed should they volunteer in 2010.
    "This is very similar to how it was in Salt Lake City in 2002 and Calgary
in 1988," said Lehto. "As tough as it is, and as much of a grind as it can be,
in the end the result is it's the best preparation for the entire team for
Games time."

    Spectator Access

    With 3,000 spectators circulating in the track area for each of the final
two days, the venue team monitored spectator flow and service. As a new
facility, key learnings in spectator communication and movement will be
examined to ensure that fans are able to find where they need to go, as they
line the track to cheer on competitors.

    Medical Services

    In conjunction with the rigorous testing by the International Federations
and VANOC to ensure The Whistler Sliding Centre meets the highest athlete
standards and safety features, VANOC's medical services team tested itself in
advance of 2010. Working with FIBT medical director, Dr. David McDonagh, and
in addition to providing first response care, medical services ran mock
scenarios of stabilizing an athlete on the track in the result of a turn over,
as well as refining extraction scenarios within the confines of the ice.
    The Whistler Sliding Centre will round out its operational testing just
two weeks later as the luge sport event takes place from February 20 to 21.
    For more information on the remaining sport events taking place from
February to September 2009, including how to purchase tickets, visit

    Remaining sport events include:

    FIS Snowboard World Cup
    Date: February 12-15, 2009
    Location: Cypress Mountain, West Vancouver

    FIL Luge World Cup
    Date: February 16-21, 2009
    Location: The Whistler Sliding Centre, Whistler

    WCF World Wheelchair Curling Championship
    Date: February 21-28, 2009
    Location: Vancouver Paralympic Centre (Hillcrest/Nat Bailey Stadium
    Park), Vancouver

    Hockey Canada Cup - Sledge Hockey
    Date: February 24-March 1, 2009
    Location: UBC Thunderbird Arena, Vancouver

    IPC Cross-Country Skiing and Biathlon World Cup Final
    Date: March 4-7, 2009
    Location: Whistler Paralympic Park, Whistler

    World Junior Curling Championships
    Date: March 5-15, 2009
    Location: Vancouver Olympic Centre (Hillcrest/Nat Bailey Stadium Park),

    IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals
    Date: March 9-14, 2009
    Location: Whistler Creekside, Whistler

    IBU Biathlon World Cup
    Date: March 11-15, 2009
    Location: Whistler Olympic Park

    ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships
    Date: March 12-15, 2009
    Location: Richmond Olympic Oval, Richmond

    Hockey Canada Cup - Women's Hockey
    Date: August 31-September 6, 2009
    Location: UBC Thunderbird Arena and Canada Hockey Place, Vancouver

    About VANOC

    VANOC is responsible for the planning, organizing, financing and staging
of the XXI Olympic Winter Games and the X 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 2010 Paralympic
Winter Games from March 12 to 21, 2010. Visit www.vancouver2010.com.

For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts: John Gibson, VANOC
Communications, (604) 403-1585, john_gibson@vancouver2010.com; John French,
VANOC Communications, (778) 229-6124, john_french@vancouver2010.com

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