One year to go! Canada celebrates 365-day countdown to Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games

March 12, 2009, 8:11 p.m. (ET)

(Vancouver, BC) - Exactly a year from today, the world will come to Canada for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Paralympic Games to celebrate and witness human beings push themselves to the limit for a shot at gold and glory, reminding everyone what is possible if they dream.

Over 1,300 athletes and officials from more than 40 countries will take part in five sports (alpine and cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey, wheelchair curling and biathlon) during the 10-day international competition for elite athletes with a physical disability at venues in Vancouver and Whistler. The 2010 Games will mark the first time Canada has hosted a Winter Paralympic Games. In 1976, Canada hosted the Paralympic Summer Games in Toronto.

Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), is celebrating the 365-day milestone today at a number of events organized by the Government of Canada at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, along with John Furlong, CEO of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC). Celebrations are also taking place at the provincial legislature in British Columbia and in Whistler, site of the alpine and Nordic competitions during the Games.

"It is wonderful to be back in Canada, a country that has excelled at past Paralympic Games and embraced its Paralympians as national heroes," said Sir Philip Craven. "On March 19 in British Columbia, I'll have the pleasure of personally inviting the National Paralympic Committees of the world to come to Vancouver and Whistler for the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. The courage and determination of Paralympians are breathtaking and their personal stories of triumph over adversity are inspirational for all of us. While the Games are here, Canadians should try and witness their amazing accomplishments in person by taking in an ice sledge hockey game or an alpine race or any other Paralympic competition."

Already, thousands of spectators have cheered on Paralympians during pre-2010 sport events this month on the downhill runs, cross-country trails and state-of-the-art biathlon range in Whistler, as well as the brand-new rinks built to host wheelchair curling and ice sledge hockey at the Games in Vancouver. Approximately 1,800 people watched an exhilarating match between Canada and the United States during the ice sledge hockey sport event at the University of British Columbia's (UBC) Thunderbird Arena on March 1 alone.

"It's been inspirational for me to hear the personal stories of the Paralympians and watch them compete this month at the same world-class venues where they will be going for gold in a year from now," said Furlong. "We've worked hard to make sure these athletes have a Games to remember, where they can be embraced by the small-town spirit of Whistler and gain worldwide exposure at big-city facilities in Vancouver. Best of all, all the venues will be completely accessible for the athletes and spectators and leave a legacy of inclusivity behind long after the Games are over."

Tickets to the 64 events at the Paralympic Games, which are affordably priced for families and groups, go on sale May 6. For more information, visit

One of the best ways to share in the excitement of the Paralympic Games is to take in the spectacle of the Opening Ceremony at BC Place on March 12, 2010. A cast of thousands, with a special emphasis on performers with a disability, will delight an expected crowd of 55,000 and showcase the unique heritage and creativity of British Columbians and Canadians during the two-hour celebration. The highlight of the night will be the lighting of the Paralympic Cauldron, signalling the official start of the Games.

During his 10-day visit to Canada, Sir Philip Craven will also visit British Columbia where he will attend the IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals and awards banquet in Whistler on March 14. He will also tour the Games venues, participate in meetings with VANOC's Government Partners and attend the Paralympic Games Chef de Mission seminar in Vancouver.

About the International Paralympic Committee
The IPC is the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement. The IPC organizes the Paralympic Summer and Winter Games, and serves as the International Federation for nine sports, for which it supervises and coordinates the World Championships and other competitions. The IPC is committed to enabling Paralympic athletes to achieve sporting excellence and to developing sport opportunities for persons with a disability, from beginner to elite level. In addition, the IPC aims to promote the Paralympic values, which include courage, determination, inspiration and equality. For more information visit

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 Paralympic Winter Games from March 12 to 21, 2010. Visit