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Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games

Thursday, October 29, 2009
Vancouver is all abuzz. It's the host city for the XXI Olympic Winter Games and Natalie Gruzlewski visited the beautiful city to see how things are progressing.

With the ocean at its feet and wilderness at its back, Vancouver has been voted by Conde Nast Traveler readers as the best city in the Americas for three consecutive years.

The Games will begin on February 12, 2010, and Vancouver has been bidding for the honour since the 1960s — at last, it's about to become a reality! More than 2 million athletes, support teams, media and spectators are expected to descend upon the city. More than 80 countries will be represented and over 40 nations will compete in the Paralympics.

The resort town of Whistler, 125km north of Vancouver, will play an integral part in the Games. The Whistler Valley is formed by the pass between the Green River and upper-middle reaches of the Cheakamus River and is flanked by glaciated mountains on both sides.

The Garibaldi Ranges contain ski mountains which have 100 marked runs, and many are helicopter-access only. Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains vie for favouritism but both are exceptional. They are now linked by a peak-to-peak gondola, opening up more terrain for snowboarders and skiers and amazing views for sightseers. There are just four towers supporting the 4.4km span.

There will be 86 winter sports at the Games. Ice sports include bobsleigh, luge, skeleton, ice hockey, figure-skating, speed-skating, short-track speed-skating and curling. Three other categories are alpine, skiing and snowboarding. Nordic events are biathlon, cross-country skiing and ski jumping.

Most people will get around on False Creek by Aquabus. A rainbow ferry fleet will travel between events every 15 minutes, carrying athletes and spectators. The little boats will be an inexpensive way to get around — with the advantage of having great views of Vancouver.

Between attending events you can take the Aquabus to Granville Island, where public markets are open every day between 9am and 7pm. The former industrial site was redeveloped in the 1970s and has a community of craft studios, a printmaking shop, master shoemaker, jewellers and potters.

Granville Island Brewing still brews some of its varieties on the island. Enjoy gourmet food, beautiful flower stalls and arts and entertainment. Guided tours of the cultural hot spot are available.

Natalie was most impressed by the Olympic Village. It's taken the last waterfront area in the city and the multimillion-dollar project is the greenest Olympic village to date. After the Winter Games end, it will become an eco-neighbourhood.

Whistler, North America's number-one ski resort will be the venue for some serious action. The good news is that during the Games, only one of its 200 runs will be used officially. The rest will be for everyone else to enjoy. Imagine tackling the glacier with its wonderful snow and an uninterrupted 10km run.

At 436m from the valley floor, it's hard to believe some people actually BASE-jump from the gondolas, but they do!

Blackcomb Mountain has the Whistler Sliding Centre, which will be home to bobsleigh, luge and skeleton events. The skeleton has been described as like being on a cafeteria tray, travelling down ice at up to 150km/h.

Cypress Mountain, 31km from the Olympic Village, will be the venue for snowboarding events, including half-pipe, parallel giant slalom, snowboard cross and ski-cross, a new event in these Games.

It promises to be a grand event and with its beautiful surroundings, it could qualify as the best ever Olympic Winter Games.


Vancouver in Canada's British Columbia.


For ticket and accommodation information, visit the official website:

The Aquabus 25-minute guided mini-cruise of False Creek costs around $7 for adults and $4 for children. Services run every 15 minutes between 9am and 9pm every day.

Air New Zealand has flights to Vancouver.

Fares from:

  • Melbourne $1345
  • Sydney $1363
  • Brisbane $1368
  • Perth $1629
  • Adelaide $1644

Sale, validity dates and other conditions apply.

Prices correct on October 29, 2009.

For further information

Air New Zealand
Ph: 132 476

The Aquabus

Visas: Australians do not require a visa for stays of up to six months. Passports must be valid for the period of the intended stay.

Electricity: The electrical supply is 110V at 60Hz using plugs with two vertical pins.

Time zone: Vancouver will be on Pacific Standard Time (GMT -8) during the Winter Olympics.

Currency: the Canadian dollar.

International dialling code: +1.

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