Grab bag of legacies at Vancouver Olympic venues
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The Olympic-triggered, $800 million Sea-to-Sky Highway widening made the drive to Whistler faster and smoother. Vancouver International Airport is only 26 minutes from downtown via the $1.9 billion Canada Line. Vancouver Convention Centre was expanded for $880 million to host major international conventions and it has the 2010 Winter Games cauldron as a decoration.
What about the Vancouver 2010 winter sport legacy?
Canada’s athletes bound for next month’s Sochi Olympics get a street party send-off Jan. 11 in Banff -- not Whistler. A homecoming parade is planned for May in Calgary, the 1988 Games host that remains the national winter sports training base.
Alex Gough was 18th in luge at the 2010 Games, but the Calgarian picked-up two silvers at the International Luge Federation World Cup in the Whistler Sliding Centre on Dec. 6-7. It was the only world cup for an Olympic sport at a 2010 venue during the important 2013-14 season.
The sledding track, where Georgia luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was fatally injured, is one of three venues built for $270 million that are now operated by Whistler Sport Legacies. Last year, the Blackcomb facility ran a $1.34 million deficit, but WSL reported a $3.07 million overall surplus after $6.76 million of subsidies from the province and Games Operating Trust. The latter is a 2003-created, $110 million taxpayer-funded account to help keep the Whistler venues and Richmond Olympic Oval open.
Last June’s Tough Mudder obstacle race drew 20,000 participants and spectators to Whistler Olympic Park, the biggest Callaghan Valley event since the Games. The two-week Sea-to-Sky Nordic Festival last March served as national championships for the four nordic disciplines, including women’s ski jumping. No alpine skiing or snowboarding world cups have returned to the region. Alex Bilodeau won Canada’s first home gold medal on Cypress Mountain’s freestyle slope, but the Olympic halfpipe was demolished.
The $178 million Oval depends on funding from GOT and Richmond city hall. The former speedskating arena reported an $845,000 surplus after receiving $2.5 million and $3.07 million, respectively, in 2012. Now a sprawling multisport community centre, it counted 600,000 visitations in 2012 and hosted Canada’s women’s Olympic soccer team before it won bronze at the London Olympics. The most-seen Oval event since the 2010 Games was last July’s brawl between Thai badminton pros, which became a YouTube sensation.
The Oval’s $5.7 million Richmond Olympic Experience is under construction for a fall 2014 opening. It will be Canada’s only member of the Olympic Museums Network. Ceremonies venue B.C. Place Stadium, which was renovated for $514 million after the Games, boasts a 2010 Games gallery in the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.
Curling is still housed at the popular $85.45 million Hillcrest Centre, but its post-Olympic configuration includes a hockey rink, swimming pools and a library. Secondary hockey venue Thunderbird Arena is better known as the site of Canada’s historic April 2013 Davis Cup quarter-final tennis win over Spain. This winter’s biggest T-Bird Arena sport event? Harlem Globetrotters on Feb. 13.
Canada’s snowboarding team, including Regina’s Mark McMorris and 2010 gold medallist Maelle Ricker of Squamish, was unveiled Jan. 3 at the Vancouver Olympic Village.
As of November, all but 67 of the 1,108 units at the $1.1 billion Village on False Creek had been sold or rented, three years after it was put into receivership over $740 million owed by developer Millennium. City of Vancouver forecast a $50 million loss, not including the $171 million Millennium was supposed to pay for the prime waterfront land. Sixty-eight condo owners, who allege shoddy workmanship, are suing city hall for refunds. A B.C. Supreme Court trial is scheduled to begin April 7.