VANCOUVER, BC– The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) successfully completed its operational testing today at the e.on Ruhrgas IBU World Cup Biathlon which ran from March 11 to 15. VANOC staff tested field of play and Games-time operations, in addition to training potential Games-time volunteers, while spectators enjoyed exciting competition that combines cross-country skiing and rifle marksmanship. This was the first World Cup event at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games venue in the Callaghan Valley.
“Our venue teams pushed hard to meet the critical timelines and logistical needs to stage the first ever biathlon World Cup at Whistler Olympic Park and we’ve learned a number of things this week to ensure our events flow smoothly at Games time,” said Tim Gayda, VANOC vice president, sport.
This "final road trip" of the biathlon World Cup season tested the mettle of athletes from 30 countries around the world. Biathlon Canada fielded a team of eight athletes that competed in the individual competition, sprint, and men’s and women’s relay competitions. Megan Imrie, of Falcon Lake, Manitoba, 58th in the women’s 15-kilometre individual event, noted the spectator enthusiasm in the biathlon stadium. “The crowd was amazing and so loud,” she said. “I finally felt like a biathlete in Canada. It was a pretty cool out there and a fun day.”
Norwegian biathlon star Ole Einar Bjørndalen enthusiastically endorsed the Whistler Olympic Park tracks. "The tracks here are completely different from any other place in the world — it is a very cool track (layout). The tracks are not as heavy as some places. It is quite fast here, but you need some power. It is a very interesting place to compete."
Testing at Whistler Olympic Park focused primarily on field of play and overall venue operations.
Field of Play
Grooming and technical standards of preparation for biathlon competition courses designed to host both Olympic and Paralympic events in 2010 were tested during the event. VANOC gained valuable insights into the complexity of on-site transport of overlay equipment, including tents, power, fencing, scaffolding and camera equipment for broadcast and technology.
“When we discovered a safety wall constructed near the biathlon range was blocking the view of television announcers, we figured out a temporary solution using a camera," explained Gayda. “But for Games time we’ll have move them over so they can see the whole range."
The venue team received very positive feedback from the International Federation, the host broadcaster and many of the teams on their first-ever impressions of the venue and the Callaghan Valley.
IBU technical committee chairman Norbert Baier praised the work that was done to stage the event. “Officials and volunteers have conducted a high-quality and technically excellent event,” he said. Swedish Coach Wolfgang Pichler added, "The people here are very warm and friendly. This will be a great place for the Olympic Games."
VANOC tested the 30-lane electronic biathlon range for the first time, with excellent results. A spectator-friendly area in the centre of the stadium provided excellent viewing for biathlon fans.
Athletes and team officials made use of the secure athletes’ compound, including wax cabins, wax-testing trails and athletes’ lounge. The wax cabins provided a space for teams to prepare and test skis, matching skis and wax to snow conditions and the type of competition. With colder than normal temperatures at the beginning of the competition, the venue team adapted by providing portable heaters for the wax cabins. The athletes’ lounge offered a comfortable and relaxing resting space for athletes, with a stretching area, change rooms and refreshments.
A workforce of approximately 550 (425 volunteers and 125 VANOC staff) took part in the five-day event. Volunteers gained experience and valuable insight into aspects of the sport of biathlon, particularly in the Sea to Sky area with many local volunteers undertaking certification in the sport which will be a valuable asset at Games time.
The biathlon World Cup season concludes later this month in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Visit www.biathlonworld.com for more information.
Vancouver 2010 Sport Events
The e.on Ruhrgas World Cup Biathlon is one of the last four sport events of the 2008–09 winter season, all four of which are being held this weekend. Since February 2008, VANOC has conducted operational testing at 17 sport events, with 16 taking place from October 2008 through March 2009. The final sport event, the Hockey Canada Cup – Women’s Hockey, will be held at UBC Thunderbird Arena and Canada Hockey Place from August 31 to September 6, 2009. Sport events (international competitions, such as World Cups or World Championships) have provided VANOC the opportunity to test Games-time operations and train potential Games-time volunteers. The sport events have brought the 2010 Winter Games competition venues to life, offering Canadians a chance to enjoy the sport disciplines that will be showcased at the 2010 Winter Games. The events have familiarized sports fans with the world's best winter athletes likely to compete in 2010 and given media, officials and athletes a chance to experience their Games-time environment.
Over the course of the 17 events, the 2010 Winter Games Host Region has welcomed over 2,400 athletes from more than 30 countries, with an average of 120 accredited media covering each event (domestic and international) and a total estimated on-site spectator attendance of approximately 70,000. The total budgeted cost for sport events is approximately $16 million.
For more information on sport events taking place in 2009, including how to purchase tickets, please visit www.vancouver2010.com.
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.
photos Janos Schmidt