Snow report: It's all quiet on Whistler's pistes – but are there any rooms left?
Sunday 07 February 2010
When the resort of Whistler opened 40 years ago, its dream was to host the Winter Olympics.
At last, its moment has arrived. The Games (vancouver2010.com) start this Friday and continue to 28 February, with the Paralympics following from 12 to 21 March. It's actually a great time just to go and ski in Whistler, because a lot of snow has fallen. Ninety per cent of the slopes remain open and pistes at Olympic destinations are always quiet during the Games. Finding somewhere to stay may prove trickier, although Eileen Clarke of Tourism British Columbia stressed: "There's still accommodation available during the Games." She recommends the one-stop shop 2010destinationplanner.com.
Most of the on-snow and ice-sliding events (such as bobsleigh) will be staged in or near Whistler but Vancouver will host the opening and closing ceremonies and most ice-stadium events, along with neighbouring Richmond. Snowboarding and freestyle skiing will be at Cypress Mountain – although it's been unseasonably warm and wet here recently. Most tickets for Olympic events are sold out but there are big-screen fan gatherings, free of charge, in central Whistler and Vancouver. Sports world (01235 544404; sportsworld .co.uk), the official Games ticket seller and tour operator, can still get you to the closing ceremony. It says its Whistler availability is sold out, but five nights' B&B in the nearby four-star Rosedale Hotel is available from £1,360, departing 25 February. Flights will cost you a further £732 per person with British Airways (ba.com) and you'll need to stump up an extra £281 for closing ceremony tickets.
If you have a bed in the resort and are holding a ticket, the Brits to follow include snowboarder Zoe Gillings and downhiller Chemmy Alcott, who are hoping to equal or better Alain Baxter's surprise slalom bronze in the Salt Lake City Games of 2002. There may also be British medal winners in the bobsleigh, skeleton and, of course, curling. But the chances of beating the British record medal tally – four – in the 1924 Chamonix Olympics, look slim.
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