VANOC to conduct operational testing at Whistler competition venues during trio of Nordic and alpine sport events over next two weeks

    VANCOUVER, March 5 /CNW/ - The final testing of Whistler venues built for
the 2010 Winter Games will be conducted over the next two weeks during sport
events for able-bodied biathlon and three Paralympic competitions: biathlon,
cross-country and alpine skiing. All events are free and open to the public.
    From March 4 to 15, more than 400 athletes from 30 countries will take to
the dizzying downhill runs of Whistler Creekside and the rolling cross-country
trails of Whistler Olympic/Paralympic Park for the three sport events.
    The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Biathlon and Cross-Country
World Cup started Wednesday and runs through Saturday. From March 9 to 14, the
IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals will take place at Whistler Creekside - the
first time the alpine venue has been tested for a Paralympic event. And from
March 11 to 15, the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Biathlon World Cup will
see spectators and athletes alike return to Whistler Olympic/Paralympic Park.
    "The next two weeks will wrap up a solid winter season of testing at our
venues," said Dick Vollet, vice-president, mountain operations, sport and
Games operations for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic
and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC). "Our venue teams have worked hard and we
are ready for the world's best to test our venues. With the one-year countdown
to the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games just days away, we are thrilled
to be able to showcase the incredible achievements of Paralympic athletes to
spectators, media and our own workforce."
    The events mark the final opportunity for VANOC to test its operational
readiness at Whistler competition venues during international competitions. To
date, VANOC has tested seven venues during 12 sport events - providing an
unprecedented opportunity for Olympic and Paralympic medal hopefuls to gain
experience at the same venues to be used at Games time.
    VANOC's testing at Whistler Olympic/Paralympic Park and Whistler
Creekside will focus primarily on field of play and overall venue operations.

    Whistler Olympic/Paralympic Park

    The Paralympic biathlon and cross-country sport event, from March 4 to 7,
will host more than120 athletes from 19 countries. In Paralympic cross-country
skiing and biathlon, athletes are categorized as standing, sit-ski or visually
impaired and compete against athletes with a similar disability. Visually
impaired skiers use the same equipment as able-bodied skiers but ski with a
guide. Standing skiers are skiers with a locomotive disability and are able to
use the same equipment as able-bodied skiers. Sit-skiers usually have no use
of their legs (paraplegic) and use a sit-ski (a specially built chair, called
a sledge, attached to a pair of skis).
    In biathlon, visually impaired athletes shoot with electronic rifles that
allow them to aim by sound while standing and sit-ski biathletes use air
    The IBU biathlon sport event, taking place from March 11 to 15, will host
more than 200 athletes from over 30 countries. The event will be broadcast
live to over 20 million viewers a day in Europe, where biathlon boasts one of
the largest TV audiences of any winter sport.

    Field of Play

    Grooming and technical standards of preparation for both the Olympic
biathlon and Paralympic cross-country and biathlon competition courses will be
tested. Snow-clearing procedures, awards presentations and athlete and team
service levels for both events will also be examined.
    VANOC will also test the state-of-the-art shooting range for biathlon, as
well as the temporary air and laser rifle range for Paralympic biathlon. This
will be the first time the Paralympic range will be tested during a World Cup.
    The Paralympic range involves the construction of a range and a range
wall, as well as associated temporary infrastructure. This range has 24 lanes
and is divided into two halves: 12 lanes for a visually impaired shooting
system (using special infrared rifles aimed by sound using headsets) and 12
lanes for air rifle used by standing and sitting athletes (pellets are fired
at a mechanical target). In the Paralympic biathlon range, targets are 10
metres away.
    The shooting range for able-bodied biathletes has 30 lanes with an
electronic target system. This system can detect the precise time and location
of every bullet fired. Targets are 50 metres away. Biathletes shoot standing
up or prone.

    Venue Operations

    The venue will be fully accessible for spectators and athletes, with
drop-off and loading locations less than 100 metres from the athletes'
compound and the spectator accessible viewing platform. There will also be
assistance/guide dog relief areas, accessible parking and restrooms, as well
as wheelchair access throughout the venue.
    A workforce of approximately 480 (IPC) and 550 (IBU) consisting of
technical sport volunteers and event services personnel, along with other
groups including food and beverage services, snow clearing and cleaning, ski
patrollers, sport production, transport and parking staff will take part in
the events.
    During the IBU biathlon sport event, the venue will also test Olympic
camera locations for broadcast and media services.

    Whistler Creekside

    The Paralympic alpine sport event taking place from March 9 to 14, will
host more than 100 athletes from 21 countries. There are five Paralympic
alpine events: downhill, super-G, super combined, giant slalom, and slalom.
The Paralympic competition accommodates male and female athletes with a
disability in three categories: standing, sitting and visually impaired.

    Field of Play

    This competition will mark the first test of the Paralympic competition
course Franz's Run. Slope profiles will be tested as athletes with a
disability have slightly different requirements to ensure equality for all
    The timing and results team, including a team from Omega, will test their
operations at a Games-time level for precision and speed, using wired cables
installed in the venue in 2007 with full redundancy to ensure backup systems
are in place. Over 2,600 results reports will be generated during the

    Venue Operations

    VANOC will be testing the venue team, which will include a workforce of
approximately 420 (including around 340 volunteers).
    In keeping with previous sport events, VANOC will test its timing,
scoring and results, medical services and sport production functions at both
Whistler Olympic/Paralympic Park and Whistler Creekside during all three sport
    For more information on these World Cups, please visit: and
    For more information on sport events taking place from March to September
2009, including how to purchase tickets, please visit
Remaining sport events include:

    World Junior Curling Championships
    Date: March 5-15, 2009
    Location: Vancouver Olympic Centre, Vancouver

    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: Whistler Olympic/Paralympic
Park inquiries: Paula Webber, VANOC Communications, (604) 403-2685,; Whistler Creekside inquiries: Robin Russell,
VANOC Communications, (604) 966-2550,

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