An IOC evaluator skied a downhill course in Whistler on Monday as part of his group's inspection of one of the bidders for the 2010 Winter Olympics. VANCOUVER, British Columbia March 4, 2003 (AP)--An IOC evaluator skied a downhill course in Whistler on Monday as part of his group's inspection of one of the bidders for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Whistler, one of North America's top ski resorts, would host Alpine skiing, bobsled and luge if Vancouver is awarded the games. The village, with its multimillion-dollar homes, is 75 miles north of Vancouver.
"It's far, but I didn't say it's too far," said Norway's Gerhard Heiberg, the IOC's top marketing official and head of a 15-member evaluation team."We're not going to change nature. We have to accept what we have here."
Earlier, Heiberg wondered whether the trip between Vancouver and Whistler was too long.
"I'll tell you a problem with it _ it's too far from Vancouver," Heiberg told a TV crew after stepping off the Dave Murray course, which would be used for the men's downhill.
Vancouver and Whistler are competing against bids from Salzburg, Austria, and Pyeongchang South Korea. The IOC will inspect each site and vote for the host July 2 in Prague, Czech Republic.
One of the most contentious items connected to Vancouver's bid is the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway linking the city to Whistler. The winding, and occasionally deadly, highway has just two lanes. It will be redeveloped to three lanes if Vancouver is awarded the games.
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien is on a skiing vacation in Whistler and is scheduled to speak to the inspection team Tuesday. The inspectors are spending four days in the area.
Vancouver cleared a hurdle in its Olympic bid when residents approved a referendum Feb. 22 in favor of the games. Calgary, Alberta, in 1988, was the last Canadian city to host the Winter Olympics.
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