Testing Successfully Completed at Parlympic Cross-Country and Biathlon Event

March 09, 2009, 12:51 p.m. (ET)

VANCOUVER, B.C. - The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) successfully completed its operational testing today at the 2009 IPC Biathlon & Cross-Country World Cup which ran from March 4 to 7. While enthusiastic fans made their way to Whistler Olympic/Paralympic Park to cheer on the world's best Paralympic cross-country and biathlon athletes, VANOC staff tested field of play and Games-time operations, in addition to training potential Games-time volunteers. The venue will also host the upcoming IBU World Cup Biathlon from March 11 to 15.

"We've had very positive feedback from athletes, coaches and our Paralympic technical delegates about this venue," said John Aalberg, director, Nordic sports, Whistler Olympic/Paralympic Park. "We worked closely with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on design, layout and technical components of the venue and the competition courses to build a venue that is both challenging and rewarding for Paralympic skiers with the best overall physical, technical and tactical skiing abilities."

The event was part of the IPC's 2008-09 World Cup season, involving 120 competing athletes from 19 countries. It was also the first time the Canadian Para-Nordic Team competed on the competition courses in the Callaghan Valley that will host Paralympic Winter Games events in 2010.

Canadian Paralympian Brian McKeever, who finished first in the men's cross-country middle-distance classic race on Thursday, was pleased with his overall experience. "From what we've seen here so far, it's above and beyond what we usually see at an IPC World Cup. Obviously, it's being geared up for next year [2010], and that's good to see," said McKeever.  

Testing at Whistler Olympic/Paralympic Park and Whistler focused primarily on field of play and overall venue operations.

Field of Play

Grooming and technical standards of preparation for Paralympic cross-country and biathlon competition courses were tested during the event. Designed to host both Olympic and Paralympic events in 2010, courses meet IPC requirements in terms of length and flow. To date, the venue's competition courses have proven extremely successful in being able to adapt to the needs many different skiers using a variety of equipment.

"What we see here is absolutely what our needs are for Paralympic sport. The fact that we are on the Olympic course most of the time shows you the level of our athletes," said Hans Peter Neeser, IPC technical delegate from Switzerland. "From the beginning, all of our needs have been seriously taken into consideration by the Organizing Committee, and that's the first time I've seen this."

With competitions that ran back to back, and with much of the course viewable from the stadium, spectators were provided with a thrilling experience overall.

VANOC also tested the temporary air and laser rifle range for Paralympic biathlon, with excellent results.

Venue Operations

The venue provided full accessibility for spectators and athletes, with drop-off and loading locations less than 100 metres from the athletes' compound and the spectator-accessible viewing platform. Members of VANOC's Venue team worked to address issues around the transport of Paralympic athletes to ensure availability of an adequate number of wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

Athletes and team officials made use of the secure, accessible athletes' compound, including 27 wax cabins, wax-testing trails and athletes' lounge. The wax cabins provided a space for teams to prepare and test skis, matching skis and wax to snow conditions and the type of competition; some athletes brought up to 10 pairs of skis each. The athletes' lounge, located at Whistler Olympic/Paralympic Park's day lodge, offered an accessible resting space for athletes with a stretching area, change rooms and meals.


A workforce of approximately 400 (273 volunteers and 126 VANOC staff) took part in the event; almost 70 of those volunteers were return volunteers, who assisted with Nordic sport events held at the venue in January. Volunteers came from across British Columbia and beyond, including one ski patrol volunteer who travelled all the way from Indiana.

For more information on these World Cups, please visit: http://www.paralympic.org/ and http://www.biathlonworld.com/.

For more information on sport events taking place from March to September 2009, including how to purchase tickets, please visit http://www.vancouver2010.com/.


VANOC is responsible for the planning, organizing, financing and staging of the XXI Olympic Winter Games and the X Paralympic Winter Games in 2010. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games will be staged in Vancouver and Whistler from February 12 to 28, 2010. Vancouver and Whistler will host the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games from March 12 to 21, 2010. Visit http://www.vancouver2010.com/.

VANOC Communications