Ticket to Ride

It’s time to move: The Games’ 1.6 million tickets are selling briskly, and the Vancouver Olympic Committee expects a sellout. Top draws? The gold-medal men’s hockey game, with the best seats carrying a sticker price of $775. Then there’s the 100 memberships to the elite Vancouver 2010 Club, where $285,000 gets you tickets to the men’s and women’s hockey finals, opening and closing ceremonies, limousine service, and other event tickets and perks. The rest of us would-be spectators will have to go the other route—the egalitarian Vancouver2010.com.

Here’s the ticket-buying process, in a nutshell: Register online for events you want to see. Any events that are oversubscribed will go to a lottery. If your number comes up, you’ll receive word in early 2009. Seats will be assigned in the summer of 2009. If there are any seats left at this point, they’ll be available for purchase from the fall of 2009-onward. Venue box offices open on the first day of competition at that venue.

Cypress Mountain

District of West Vancouver

The locally loved north shore mountain has received a serious overhaul in preparation for the Games, including a new timber-frame lodge. Whistler gets the skiing and sliding events; Cypress will host all the pretty, acrobatic stuff, as well as the intense, white-knuckle cross events—skicross makes its Olympic debut here.

Sports/events: Freestyle skiing, Snowboarding
Capacity: 12,000 seats in each of two stadiums
Ticket urgency: Sky high
B.C. athletes to watch for: Drew Neilson, snowboarding (Vernon); Maelle Ricker, snowboarding (North Vancouver); Kristi Richards, freestyle skiing (Summerland); Steve Omischl, freestyle skiing (Kelowna, by way of North Bay, Ont.)
Where to eat: La Regalade, Burgoo, Tomahawk Barbecue
Where to drink: Cypress Creek Lodge

Canada Hockey Place

800 Griffiths Way, Vancouver

Cranbrook, B.C.’s favourite son, Steve Yzerman, replaces Wayne Gretzky as executive director of the Canadian Men’s Hockey Team and is expected to deliver the gold medal (and erase all memory of their disastrous showing in Turin). Tickets…they will be scarce. Plan B: head off the downtown peninsula to UBC’s 7,200-seat Thunderbird Winter Sports Centre (6066 Thunderbird Blvd.), where lower-profile matches will be played.
Sports/events: Ice Hockey
Capacity: 18,630
Ticket urgency: Stratospheric
B.C. athlete to watch for: Goal-tender Roberto Luongo—he may hail from Montreal, but the Vancouver Canucks’ captain is a bona fide local hero.
Where to eat: Chambar, Cobre, Boneta, Salt Tasting Room
Where to drink: The Irish Heather

Pacific Coliseum

Hastings Park, 100 Renfrew St., Vancouver

Facility upgrades, including new seating, have made this east-side arena more comfortable, but they haven’t changed its old-school, small-town character. Your hands feel the cold. There’s not a bad seat in the place—no nosebleed section—your only challenge will be getting one.
Sports/events: Figure Skating, Short-Track Speed Skating
Capacity: 14,239
Ticket urgency: High
B.C. athletes to watch for: Mira Leung, women’s figure skating (Vancouver); Craig Buntin, pairs figure skating (Kelowna)
Where to eat: The Pear Tree (Burnaby)
Where to drink: Stella’s Tap and Tapas Bar

Richmond Oval

6111 River Road, Richmond

Completed in October 2008, Richmond’s $178-million oval is one of the more architecturally distinct venues of the Games; the graceful wooden arches comprising the vast 6.5-acre roof were sourced from pine beetle-damaged timber. Lots to see on the ice, too: Canadian speed skater Cindy Klassen took home five medals at the Torino Games and is expected to return to the podium in 2010.
Sports/events: Long-Track Speed Skating, Team Pursuit Speed Skating
Capacity: 8,000
Ticket urgency: Medium
B.C. athlete to watch for: Denny Morrison, long-track speed skating (Fort St. John).
Where to eat: Kirin, Gingeri, Sun Sui Wah, Northern Delicacy 

BC Place Stadium

777 Pacific Blvd., Vancouver

The best thing about BC Place is its location: right on the SkyTrain rapid-transit line, and walking distance to the neighbourhoods of Yaletown and Gastown—both chockablock with stellar restaurants and local boutiques. No word yet on where the torch will go: unlike most stadiums used in opening and closing ceremonies, BC Place is enclosed under a puffy white dome (a retractable roof is slated for completion in 2011).
Sports/events: Opening and Closing Ceremonies, and Nightly Medal Presentation Ceremonies (to which admission is free).
Capacity: 55,000
Ticket urgency: High
Where to eat: Dix BBQ, Cioppino’s, Blue Water Cafe
Where to drink: Yaletown Brew Pub, George Lounge

Vancouver Olympic Centre (Hillcrest/Nat Bailey Stadium Park)

4601 Ontario St., Vancouver

Hockey may be our national game, but curling is our national pastime (just ask anyone from Kelowna, or anywhere in Saskatchewan for that matter). Both the men’s and women’s teams earned medals in Torino, and both are serious contenders this time around, too. The stunning new facility, from noted local architecture firm Hughes Condon Marler, is walking distance to a soon-to-open Canada Line subway station, view-friendly Queen Elizabeth Park, and many well-worn pubs along Main Street.
Sports/events: Curling
Capacity: 6,000
Ticket urgency: Medium
B.C. athlete to watch for: Kelly Scott, women’s curling (Kelowna)
Where to eat: Crave, East is East, Solly’s Bagels, Aurora Bistro
Where to drink: Cascade, The Five Point, Kino Cafe

In Whistler:

Whistler Olympic Park

Callaghan Valley

The remote Callaghan Valley, found about 15 km southwest of Whistler Village, is the place for serious spectators. No fancy facilities here, just postcard-worthy Canadian wilderness, killer cross-country skiing, and two just-completed ski jumps.
Sports/events: Biathlon, Cross Country Skiing, Nordic Combined, Ski Jumping
Capacity: 12,000 in each of three stadiums
Ticket urgency: Medium
B.C. athlete to watch for: Megan Tandy, women’s biathlon (Prince George);
Where to eat: Wild Wood Cafe
Where to drink: It’s slim pickings in this neck of the woods; proceed directly to Whistler Village

Whistler Creekside

Creekside Village, just south of Whistler Village

Long before Whistler Village and Intrawest and multi-million-dollar chalets, there was Creekside—a ramshackle hamlet on the south side of Whistler mountain. The development of Blackcomb mountain and the buildout of Whistler’s north side permanently changed the spatial layout of the resort municipality, but the Games have shifted some of the momentum back to where it all began. Some $27-million has been spent recontouring Creekside runs for the lightning-fast alpine events; local gal Britt Janyk promises to draw a crowd.
Sports/events: Skiing—Alpine, Downhill, Giant Slalom, Slalom, Super-G, Super Combined
Capacity: 7,600
Ticket urgency: High
B.C. athletes to watch for: Manuel Osborne-Paradis, alpine skiing (North Vancouver); Emily Brydon, alpine skiing (Fernie); Britt Janyk, alpine skiing (Whistler)
Where to eat: Rim Rock Cafe
Where to drink: Dusty’s

Whistler Sliding Centre

Blackcomb Mountain

Perched on Blackcomb Mountain, find the track Olympians call the steepest and fastest in the world. It’ll be broken in this February, when Whistler hosts World Cup sliding events; look for 2010 hopeful Michelle Kelly, the reigning Olympic champion in skeleton.
Sports/events: Bobsleigh, Luge, Skeleton
Capacity: 12,000
Ticket urgency: High
B.C. athletes to watch for: Justin Kripps, bobsleigh (Summerland); Michelle Kelly, skeleton (Fort St. John)
Where to eat: Apres, La Rua, Trattoria Di Umberto
Where to drink: Dubh Linn Gate Old Irish Pub

Whistler Olympic Celebration Plaza

Sports/events: Nightly medal presentations (free admission)
Capacity: 8,000
Ticket urgency: Low
Where to eat: Mountain Club, Araxi, Avalanche Pizza Co.
Where to drink: High Mountain Brewing Co.