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I n the hours after the International Olympic Committee awarded Vancouver the 2010 Winter Games on July 2, 2003, Vancouver's normally effervescent bid president John Furlong quietly reflected to his chairman, Jack Poole, that, " Today we have absolutely moved a mountain." In the six years since that moment in Prague, the Vancouver Organising Committee ( VANOC), with Furlong still at its helm, has continued to move mountains, if not literally then certainly figuratively. One of the first pledges VANOC made was to complete all of the sporting venues two years in advance in order to give athletes ample time to practice and train and for the organisation to work out all the kinks. All bar one are now finished, and the last, the curling venue, will be open shortly. An unprecedented number of corporate sponsors have lined up behind VANOC, giving it the financial muscle to pull off the event. The organising committee and its government supporters partnered with First Nations groups, creating economic and cultural opportunities for the country's indigenous peoples. Canadians voted with their wallets over the winter, snapping up every one of the available event tickets in a lottery draw that saw VANOC staff scrambling to keep its servers from crashing. More importantly, Canada as a country adopted the message of the Olympic movement as a unifying force for humankind through sports. That every province and territory in the country has signed on as an active partner has been seen as one of several major achievements of the organising committee. Furlong, whose gift for oratory has long been seen as one of the keys to VANOC's success, recently defined why he thought Canada has embraced the Vancouver Games. " In history, the Olympic Games have been about a city. Sometimes, a part of a city. Sometimes, rarely, about a region. But never about a country, although in some instances the world has changed its view of a country," he said. " In our country we set out to achieve both those goals; to have the world see Canadians as a competent, caring society, and at the same time make sure every Canadian felt the same sense of pride that they were part of this and felt they owned it." Now, with just a year to go before the Opening Ceremony of the XXI Winter Games, VANOC has now moved into the mountains too, testing out every venue with a panoply of events designed to shake out any bugs before the Games start on February 12 next year. Over the winter VANOC is holding, or will have held, up to 15 test events on the entire range of venues. In each one the crucial elements of overlay, operations, transportation, timing, volunteers, security and other factors were put through their paces. In Vancouver, work is proceeding on the 2,800- bed athletes village being built on city- owned land on False Creek. The site, one of the last developable pieces of waterfront in the inner city, looks across to BC Place, site of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and nightly medal ceremonies. In Whistler, a 2,400- bed village is taking form at Cheakamus Valley just south of the resort. While there is enough hotel accommodation in metro Vancouver, finding enough rooms near Whistler has been a ? 32OLYMPIC REVIEW VANCOUVER 2010 RightThe launch of the Games mascots BelowYoungsters at the Year- to- Go celebrations