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The town of Whistler, two hours north of Vancouver, is the hub for most of the skiing events at the 2010 Games. While the alpine races will be held at Whistler Creekside, the cross- country, ski jumping, biathlon and nordic combined will be close neighbours at Whistler Olympic Park. The Dave Murray Downhill course will host the men's alpine races while the women tackle Franz's Run. Both runs have been used for many years in hosting top races, including those on the FIS World Cup calendar. Recent improvements at the venue include adding extra width to the existing men's course and the creation of the new ladies course. Cross- country is one of four Olympic disciplines, along with ski jumping, nordic combined and biathlon, whose medals will be fought out at Whistler Olympic Park. Giving fans the chance to catch glimpses of four different disciplines in close vicinity, three separate stadiums are situated just 400 metres apart. Around 15km of trails that will host all the men's and women's cross- country events, from the sprint to the 50km mass start, have been built around the cross- country stadium. The adjacent ski jump stadium is dominated by two ski jumps, one normal hill and one large hill. Both have been built to include one of the world's most sophisticated snow refrigeration and track setting systems. Cypress Mountain will host the freestyle and snowboard events during the Games and boasts an impressive capacity of 12,000. Located in Cypress Provincial Park, adjacent to the District of West Vancouver, the mountain is accessed easily by motorway and offers spectacular views of Vancouver and its harbour. 70OLYMPIC REVIEW VENUE Below: The slopes of Whistler will host the various different ski events

OLYMPIC REVIEW71 FORMGUIDE coveted overall crown last season, finishing second in the distance event standings behind Italian Pietro Piller Cottrer with Norway's Petter Northug, Sami Jauhojaervi of Finland and Czech Lukas Bauer filling out the top five. Another Norwegian, Ola Vigen Hattestad, won the World Cup sprint crown and topped the season's overall victory tally with six. Going on last season's overall World Cup results, the women's cross- country could be just as tightly contested. In another historic first, Justyna Kowalczyk won the women's overall World Cup title for Poland last season, finishing ahead of Slovenian Petra Majdic in a thrilling final weekend. While Majdic is a sprint specialist, Kowalczyk is a big favourite in the distance events where she will be closely marked by Finland's Aino Kaisa Saarinen, a three time world champion in 2009 who finished third overall and runner- up in the distance standings in last season's World Cup. Ski jumping at the Games has been notoriously difficult to predict. During the Salt Lake City Games in 2002, Swiss Simon Ammann stunned a host of bigger favourites, such as Poland's Adam Malysz, to claim gold in both the normal hill and the large hill. Four years later, Austria's Thomas Morgenstern came to the Games with only two victories from a total of seven podium places in 22 World Cup competitions that season, but stole the show in Turin by winning gold in large hill and helping Austria to gold in the team event. In Vancouver, Morgenstern is likely to face a strong challenge from the ever- present Norwegians and Finns who over the years have taken the sport to new heights. Norway's Lars Bystoel, no longer competing, won normal hill gold and bronze in the large hill in Turin and helped Norway to bronze in the team event. Finn Matti Hautamaeki won silver in the normal hill, and another in the team event. Morgenstern's biggest threat, however, could come from teammate Gregor Schlierenzauer, who beat Ammann to the overall World Cup crown in 2009. In the new Olympic sport of ski cross, there is arguably no one happier than Ophelie David. The Frenchwoman has won the ski cross World Cup for the last six consecutive seasons. Canada will be looking to Alexandre Bilodeau and Steve Omischl to provide medals in the freestyle after the pair won World Cup titles in the moguls and aerials respectively in 2009. When alpine skiing's famous " white circus" rolls up in Whistler, a determined team of Canadians will be bidding to upset the form book by grabbing their share of the 30 medals on offer. But despite the best intentions of home athletes such as Canada's world downhill champion John Kucera - and the likelihood of a few surprise results - a number of near certain gold medal contenders stick out from the rest. American Lindsey Vonn has swept all before her the past two seasons, winning world titles in the downhill and super- G in 2009. Vonn has pinpointed Germany's Maria Riesch as perhaps her biggest rival, although Austria's Kathrin Zettel, Swiss starlet Lara Gut and Italian Nadia Fanchini are all solid bets to steal some of the limelight. The Games have never been a happy hunting ground for Vonn's compatriot, the unpredictable Bode Miller, who will have a fight on his hands against Norway's reigning overall and super- G World Cup champion Aksel Lund Svindal, and Switzerland's giant slalom title winner Didier Cuche. In the slalom and super combined events, look out for Austrian Benjamin Raich, Croatian Ivica Kostelic, American Ted Ligety and French slalom king Jean- Baptiste Grange. A total of 36 medals will be on offer during the 12- event cross- country programme at nearby Whistler Olympic Park, and with only one chance to get it right on the day the pre- race favourites could find themselves under extra pressure. Swiss ace Dario Cologna caused an upset by winning the men's SPORTS PROFILES