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Welcome to hair-raising Whistler

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Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes | 20:17 UK time, Thursday, 11 February 2010

Wow, what a place Whistler is! I've always wanted to come here, and for me this is the where the real Winter Olympics are (not that I've been to Vancouver yet!)

Whistler - famous for its great snow, great pistes and friendly people and so far living up to that reputation - is the home of the alpine sports.

These sports are at the heart of the history of the games. Skiing and sliding are my favourite events and I am privileged to be here covering them for the BBC.

Guntis Rekis of Latvia takes part in luge practice

The place is buzzing with athletes, their connections and the world's media. The restaurants, bars, cafes and accomodation all seem full to the brim. There aren't many non-Olympic accredited tourists yet but I'm sure that will all change when the events start.

I am making a feature for BBC Sport on the Whistler sliding track - and last night we went to the sliding centre to film a few bits to camera as the lugers were training. It's the first time I've ever actually been to a sliding track - and it's just a bit special.

The track is described as the fastest and most technically challenging in the world .

When you see it on the TV you know sliding sports are fast and exciting but to stand less than three feet from the ice where someone is hurtling past you at 100 miles per hour is an incredible sight. The hairs on my arms stood on end (under my thick layer of warm coats!) and I was simply mesmerised by the spectacle.

Earlier I was given a tour of the Olympic village by Team GB's deputy chef de mission, Sir Clive Woodward. He was absolutely charming and didn't seem to mind us filming everything from three different angles.

Clive (he said to just call him Clive) has been the driving force behind improving the sports science for the winter athletes here. But it's not just about the ice baths and hi-tech gym equipment he's installed, which are clearly vital to the team's performance.

He's also made sure everyone has the basic stuff like comfortable beds, ear plugs and somewhere to relax. His theory seems to be "make lots of things a little better and it all adds up to make a big difference."

I guess that's advice we can all use for everything in life. Let's hope his improvements add up to a big medal tally for Team GB this year.


  • 1. At 4:20pm on 12 Feb 2010, Daryl West wrote:

    Looking forward to this blog. Am from Sarf London but lived in Whistler for the last three years.. stoked that the Olympics have finally arrived! The sliding centre is awesome, have been lucky enough to pilot a bobsleigh down there around 30 times in the last three months having completed "Bob school" in November. An amazing adrenalin rush!!

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  • 2. At 5:27pm on 12 Feb 2010, Nick wrote:

    "Whistler - famous for its great snow, great pistes and friendly people and so far living up to that reputation - is the home of the alpine sports."

    I hope your blogs get better!! Do you mean the home of Canadian alpine sports? As I can't really believe you think it's the home of Alpine sports. So far I am appalled with the shameful lack of knowledge from the BBC and their blog writers. Are you just taking this as a holiday and jolly that you get from the British taxpayer. Hopefully you will have more in depth knowledge about all the sports you are covering.

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  • 3. At 5:35pm on 12 Feb 2010, bigsportblog wrote:

    Re Post 2:

    With regards I think you should also look at your lack of knowledge as well.

    The Whistler resort is the home of the Alpine Skiing events at this years Olympic Winter Games, ie. that is where they will be held for this Olympiad.

    Whilst Lizzie may not have explicitly explained this, maybe she was thinking that the readers of her blog may have some knowledge of their own.

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  • 4. At 8:08pm on 12 Feb 2010, David wrote:

    "The track is described as the fastest and most dangerous in the world - so if crashes are your thing, the sliding events should make highly entertaining viewing."

    Unfortunate prediction; may wish to rewrite.

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  • 5. At 8:34pm on 12 Feb 2010, Mike wrote:

    The Canadians training locally on this track have been saying it's too dangerous for the last 6 months - we've had world champs crashing regularly. Some track changes have been made, but sadly not enough. Maybe someone will listen to the athletes now.

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  • 6. At 10:04pm on 12 Feb 2010, BBragg wrote:

    Nick_Hove wrote:

    "I hope your blogs get better!! Do you mean the home of Canadian alpine sports? As I can't really believe you think it's the home of Alpine sports".

    Nick, what was meant was its the home of the Alpine events at these games.

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  • 7. At 11:57pm on 12 Feb 2010, entonox wrote:

    Very sad and unfortunate events today. Sport is competitive and exciting, with an element of risk of injury, but should never be death. Motor sport and boxing, for example, has tried all it can to minimize risk of death.

    I for one can not see how the sliders can take part on this track for the sake of entertainment and a medal (and minimal financial reward) when the risk is far too high of another serious injury or fatality. A competitor was knocked unconscious earlier on the track, which should have sent the alarm bells ringing.

    I don't want to be entertained by crashes and injury, I see enough at work. Georgia and the sliders have my full support to quit the games.

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  • 8. At 09:12am on 13 Feb 2010, nielbassom wrote:

    I personally think that the IOC should commission a special medal to be minted and given either directly to the family of Nodar Kumaritashvili or be given to the Georgian president to pass on.
    I was shocked to hear of the news of someone dying in such tragic circumstances and feel that the event in the games should go ahead with precautions in place as a mark of respect to the athlete.

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  • 9. At 11:32am on 13 Feb 2010, MrPee wrote:

    This was a tragic accident, and I'm sure all our thoughts and good wishes go to the family and the Georgian team members. However, the investigation into what happened seems to suggest that the cause was a small mistake by the athlete involved, which led to this fatal outcome.

    Of course, safety should be a prime concern, but Luge is an inherently dangerous sport, just like downhill skiing, motor racing, rugby, or many others, and sadly accidents will happen. Look at the incident involving Felipe Massa last year.

    One can never eliminate all risk when sliding down a tube of ice at 90 mph.

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  • 10. At 2:08pm on 13 Feb 2010, Black Bart wrote:

    This accident is truly a tragic event. If the IOC would look at the sledder flying through the air, they would see that some sort of protection is needed for this to not happen again. Why not install Hockey Rink glass wall protection? Common sense,if there is any left out there, should dictate more protection.

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  • 11. At 5:27pm on 14 Feb 2010, jonathan wrote:

    One blog in 4 days. Some would say lacking depth too. Is the real truth that Lizzie is having a great time? Far too busy to report on the world class hotels and restaurants the fantastic hospitality afforded to 5500 athletes and 10000 press, including some minor details as free chauffeur driven jeeps. The helicopter rides the ziptreks and on and on. Where is the BBC. Is it only on negatives we get to hear anything to make our UK lives seem better?

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  • 12. At 10:00pm on 14 Feb 2010, Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes wrote:

    I am surprised by the comments regarding my 'home of alpine events' line. Please use your common sense before attacking me on this comments forum. Of course I don't mean 'home of alpine skiiing' ever, the world. Whistler the home of the Olympic alpine events. This is an Olympics blog. It's my personal account of the games. I am here as a TV reporter for BBC Sport and this is my take on the Olympics. You may like to read about what I am up to, you may not. If you do, I have a new blog just going up today and if you read it you might realise why you haven't heard from me for a couple of days. That and the fact I have been busy doing my day job here - ie making TV! I hope you enjoy the BBC's coverage from Vancouver and rest assured we are working very hard to bring you great entertainment.

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