VANOC completes operational testing at World Wheelchair Curling Championship

    Sport event marked first Paralympic championship held at a Vancouver 2010

    VANCOUVER, Feb. 28 /CNW/ - The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the
2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) successfully completed its
operational testing today at the World Wheelchair Curling Championship sport
event at the Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Centre.
    The international competition, which ran from February 21 to 28, marked a
series of firsts: the first Paralympic sport event VANOC has tested, the first
event held at the newly opened curling venue and the first World Wheelchair
Curling Championship held in Canada.
    "This is an incredible venue that supports the accessibility needs of
both athletes and spectators. The planners did a great job. As a result, the
athletes can concentrate on the competition and their performance. Everyone
will have a great experience here during the Games and in the accessible
community centre that will be left as a legacy," said Jim Armstrong, skip of
the Canadian wheelchair curling team.
    Fifty athletes from 10 countries competed at the championship, while
VANOC tested its operational readiness to host wheelchair curling at the
Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
    "This competition was a great opportunity for the world's best wheelchair
curlers to test the ice and rocks where they'll be competing in 2010," said
Jan Damnavits, VANOC's director of event services and venue management. "We've
had great feedback from athletes and spectators alike, especially in the area
of accessibility at the venue. But a key to our operational testing success
this week was the enthusiasm of our hundreds of volunteers."
    VANOC focused its operational testing on the following areas: ice
maintenance, venue systems and spectator and athlete accessibility.

    Field of Play

    VANOC concentrated on testing the ice and ice maintenance in order to
provide a suitable field of play meeting the athletes' high standards. Proper
ice preparation was extremely important as the venue will host just two sport
events prior to the Games. Operational adjustments were made to the building's
heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system to strike a balance
between keeping the air in the venue warm enough for spectators and cold
enough for optimum ice sheets for curling. The ice, created under the
direction of world-renowned ice technicians Hans Wuthrich and Dave Merklinger,
became "keener" (faster) as the championship progressed because this balance
was achieved.
    The water system, tested for quality and flow rate, worked well, as did
the blades on the ice scrapers that were brought in specifically for this
event. The state-of-the-art "Eye on the Ice" monitoring system operated
effectively to ensure ice technicians were able to monitor all systems.
    VANOC also tested new competition curling stones featuring two different
running surfaces that will be used by both wheelchair and able-bodied curlers
during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. The new stones are "aggressive,"
meaning they curl a lot, which is consistent with all new stones. These stones
will be used at other major events over the next year, thereby smoothing out
their surface for optimal use during Games-time competitions.

    Venue Operations

    Accessible seating was used by a number of spectators over the week-long
competition. The layout worked well and VANOC has developed additional ideas
to improve accessibility in time for the Games, including the addition of more
than a dozen accessible washrooms, more than tripling the accessible seating
capacity and providing accessible shuttle service to and from nearby TransLink
and SkyTrain stops. The venue has the largest seating capacity for wheelchair
curling in Paralympic Winter Games history.
    A workforce of approximately 600 (including around 400 volunteers)
consisted of technical sport volunteers and event services personnel, along
with other groups including food and beverage services, sport production,
transport and parking staff. Workforce training was highly attended,
demonstrating the volunteers' excitement at being involved in the event.
    Workforce check-in went smoothly using electronic scanners. Games-time
readiness was put to the test when a scheduled power outage on the training
day for the event led workforce to process volunteer and staff check-ins
manually with no disruption.
    In keeping with previous sport events, VANOC tested its timing, scoring
and results, medical services and sport production functions - all of which
ran smoothly.
    Next week, from March 5 to 15, the Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Centre
will hold the World Junior Curling Championships.
    For more information on sport events taking place from March to September
2009, including how to purchase tickets, visit
Remaining pre-Olympic sport events include:

    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/Paralympic Centre, Vancouver

    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, Whistler

    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 to 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

For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts: John Gibson, VANOC
Communications, (604) 403-1585,; Emily Hamer,
VANOC Communications, (604) 403-2238,

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