Dec 1, 2009 | Marmot, Winter 2009

Getting Ready for Whistler, and Beyond

Just because you didn’t score a ticket to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a front row seat watching some of the world’s future Olympians in action.

Hundreds of athletes on 22 teams including Germany, France, Finland, Sweden, Canada and the U.S – are undergoing pre-2010 training at the biathlon stadium and on the slopes at Mount Washington Alpine Resort and in the Comox Valley. The climate, elevation and snow conditions at Vancouver Island’s largest ski hill are equivalent to the 2010 Nordic site near Whistler. Keep your eyes peeled for athletes in training for Olympic Snowboarding, Ski Cross, Snowboard Cross, Biathlon, Cross Country and Free Style Skiing.

Biathlon Range Target Automation Project

Since the announcement of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Comox Valley has been proactively planning to use the Games as a catalyst for local economic development. By improving the local sport tourism infrastructure and attracting Olympic teams to train at Mount Washington the region will be able to capitalize on the significant presence of the international media these teams attract.

In the sport of biathlon, automated targets have now become the norm for international competition and training. Most training centres and competition venues in Europe are equipped with automated targets. In North America, there are only a handful of training facilities with this technology. By equipping itself with this technology, Mount Washington would join Canmore and the Callaghan Valley Olympic site as the only facilities in Canada with automated targets.

The first visits to Mount Washington from National Olympic Committee teams confirmed that this equipment is critical to contending teams in their Olympic preparation. Consequently, in order to host these teams at Mount Washington, it became essential to acquire this equipment. Realizing that this infrastructure was a requirement for a successful team attraction strategy, the Vancouver Island Biathlon Club (VIBC) in collaboration with the various partners including the Island Coastal Economic Trust, began looking at ways to make this project a reality.

While the catalyst for obtaining this equipment has been the visiting Olympic teams, it is important to highlight that the objectives are not to serve the interests of these Olympic teams, but rather to use the 2010 Olympics and their visit as a tool to further the Comox Valley’s sport tourism attraction and hosting.

The Biathlon Range Project will:

• Improve and develop the sport tourism infrastructure in the Comox Valley

• Develop Mount Washington into an international caliber training and

competition facility as a complement to the Mountain Centre athlete training

facility being built

• Attract Olympic Biathlon Teams totrain at Mount Washington prior to the 2010 Games and reap the direct economic benefits of these visits

• Attract International Athletes and Teams to use these facilities on an ongoing basis and reap the long term direct and indirect economicbenefits

• Attract National and International Sporting Events and the economic activity generated by these Events

• Take advantage of the media attention generated by the international level athletes training and competing at Mount Washington

• Raise the Region’s profile nationally and internationally

• Attract winter sport tourists to the region

• Develop a lasting legacy for the region’s developing athletes

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