The Winter Olympics of 2010 may be three years away, but the city of Vancouver is already anticipating its arrival. On February 12, the city unveiled a clock that stands 20 feet high outside Vancouver’s Art Gallery to count down to the very second when the 17 day celebration will begin.
Since the announcement the city has been deeply invested in its preperation for the games. The Games’ construction budget of $580 million includes a new speed-skating oval in Richmond, south of the city, and improvements to existing sites such as on-mountain conditions at Whistler, site of the alpine events. To accommodate the 5,000 athletes and officials, 10,000 members of the media and hundreds of thousands of spectators the city has invested $3 billion more to expand transportation, highways and hotels.
BC Place Stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies will take place has over 55,000 seats as well as an inflatable Teflon-coated roof. This 24-year old venue is considered the largest air-supported domed stadium in the world. BC Place will most likely get a touch up before the torch is lit. The hockey events will take place next to BC Place at General Motors Place better known as The Garage where Vancouver’s NHL team the Canucks call home.
For snow junkies that can’t wait for the Olympic Games to begin they can catch a preview of what’s to come at Cypress Mountain. With five chair lifts at 1,710 vertical feet visitors can scope out where the snowboarding events will take place. The halfpipe is not built yet, but you can still drop by runs like Fork and Gully which will eventually host the parallel giant slalom. The free-style events will take place on the southeast flank of Black Mountain. The slope is currently closed to the public, but a new chairlift and nine new runs are set to open next season to give an up and close look of what’s to come.
The Vancouver Organizing Committee is also overseeing the building and renovation of projects in the area including a new speed skating oval in Richmond and a curling facility in Cambie among other projects. The Games have also helped fast-track a number of other construction projects designed to accommodate visitors. Besides the new luxury hotels, the new 19-kilometer light-rail link between the airport and downtown continues on schedule in its development. In addition, the Sea to Sky Highway is in the midst of a $600-million upgrade that should ease the sometimes tedious trip to Whistler. Vancouver is sure to sparkle by 2010 and we look foward to the results.
By, Melissa Vitti