Monday, February 8, 2010

Savor 2010 Winter Games With a Souvenir

Want to remember the 2010 Winter Games with a souvenir? No problem; all across British Columbia you can find a wide array of official trinkets. If you are not going to the games you can order the souvenir of your choice from the official web site.

Pin trading is an Olympic tradition and collectors have plenty of pins to choose from in 2010. All the sports and most countries are represented on pins along with pins for the game mascots.

Miga, Quatchi, Mukmuk and Sumi, the mascots, are also available as stuffed animals ranging is size from four inches ($9.99) to over three feet ($249.99). If you want to learn more about the mascots, or play some games with them, just visit their interactive web site. It is suitable for all ages but aimed at the young.

The Olympic games are all about athletes but they're also about memories and souvenirs are a great way to remember the experience. So shop away!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

2010 Winter Olympics: Torch Relay Fires Up Whistler

Tyler Allison 17, a young Olympic hopeful athlete exchanges the torch from former crazy Canuck Steve Podborski on the final leg of torch in Whistler Village on Feb. 5, 2010.

The 2010 Winter games officially begin in Vancouver on February 12th but for Whistler, they opened last night with the arrival of the Olympic Torch. The streets were packed, guests lined balconies surrounding the Skiers Plaza and the town was alive with music and flag waving fans.

After a three month trek across Canada the torch arrived at Whistlers Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center where it was greeted by First Nation’s leaders and a festive crowd. Then, after passing the Blackcomb base, it entered the main village near the Brewhouse and medal plaza before turning up the narrow lanes of the new village. After several torch bearer exchanges it wound over the bridge to the “old” village amid a growing throng and past crowds lining both sides of the route.

Music and lights were ready at the stage in the Town Square, outside the village market. A giant TV screen displayed events at the Skiers Plaza stage. Passing toward the gondola base the torch carrier was met by a snowmobile that carried it to the top of a new 100 foot high snow mound beside the gondola base and overlooking the Skiers Plaza and main stage (in front of the Longhorn Saloon and Grill.)

The Skiers Plaza was a solid mass of humanity but no one seemed to mind the crowd. Kids on shoulders heard their parents say things like, “this is a once in a lifetime opportunity” and “you will remember this the rest of your lives.” The parents were probably correct.

Finally, after a few speeches from the stage, the final carrier skied down the small slope and ignited the “Whistler Flame” in a cauldron on the main stage.

The Whistler Flame will burn for the rest of the Olympics. The official torch took a rest for the night and will begin its trip on to Vancouver early Saturday morning.

It was a Whistler night to remember and a portend of things to come as the official events get rolling in one weeks time. It is going to be a festive time in Whistler.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Winter Olympics 2010: Whistler Preps & Sun Shines

What’s not to like about Whistler on a sunny day? Surrounded by spectacular scenery the mountain offers a gazillion feet of vertical, terrain for every taste, great snow and a respectable array of mountainside dining options. Whistler is world class.

February 4th, eight days before the Olympics, was a sunny day and event preparation continued. Runs were being groomed for team practice. Stages were being erected in the Village. Olympic energy was in the air and a range of world languages could be heard in the streets.

We started our skiing at Blackcomb Mountain where the all lifts were open and the snow was wonderful and runs uncrowded. I tried to ski my best in case a talent scout for some small foreign team, Jamaica perhaps, was on the slope recruiting for their downhill team. Unsuccessful there we rode the Peak to Peak gondola across to Whistler Mountain and had no more success on that hill. But all the bowls were open, the visibility endless and my old body loved every minute of it.

The Peak to Peak gondola, which links the two mountains, is wrapped in superlatives; longest, highest, newest, etc. Two of the 28 cabins have a glass floor which either adds to or detracts from the experience depending on your feeling about heights. We enjoyed it.

We have skied at Whistler for over 25 years. We have seen the area mature. We have skied in rain, sleet, snow, ice, gale force winds—you name it and we have faced it. Yes, Whistler has it all and can offer anything in Mother Nature’s weather playbook.

But, that aside, what’s not to like about Whistler on a sunny day?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Whistler 2010: Bring Your Travel Pass and Money

The Whistler Resort is ready for the 2010 Olympics. Information kiosks are spotted throughout the village, TV anchor booths are being readied for the arrival of the broadcasters, the medals stage is nearly finished and you can sense an air of anticipation.

At this point, eight days before the games begin, the crowd is noticeably younger because many of them are event workers and volunteers, not media execs and notables. Some of the athletes have arrived but the real flood will take place next week.

And, yes, there is plenty of snow at Whistler. While it may be thin for events near Vancouver the coverage at Whistler is not a risk. The down hillers will be able to blast downhill.

For those of us that drive, the road to the resort is new and improved. Legendary curves have been removed and much of the route has been widened. But there are still choke points and a system of reversible lanes will be in force during the Olympics to speed traffic north in the am and south in the pm.

To further control congestion a pass is required to travel the last 40 miles from Squamish to Whistler between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm daily during the games. Regular folks will need to arrange for a pass when arranging their lodging in Whistler. A Squamish roadblock is set to go into effect and they will not let you pass.

In addition to a pass you should bring money; lots and lots of money. First there are “must have” souvenirs everywhere. You can’t leave Whistler without some sort of gadget. Second, be prepared for “special Olympic pricing” at the restaurants. We stopped by one of our favorite haunts and the price rise was very discernable.

“Yes, I was a little surprised by the new menu prices,” our server commented. “But everyone’s doing it.”

With the Canadian dollar trading near par with the U.S. the price you see is very near the price in U.S. dollars that you will pay.

But, hey, the Olympics are a once in a lifetime event. There still may be tickets available to some events. We will find out today. In the meantime we came here to ski and ski we will. More Olympics news later.