Learn a Winter Olympic Sport at Whistler

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A person skis past the Olympic rings at Whistler Olympic Park, a good place to learn a winter olympic sport!
My spouse being an Olympian at Whistler Olympic Park

A really fun way to beat the winter blues is winter adventure! What better way to do this than to learn a winter olympic sport at Whistler? Honestly, I can’t think of a single one. Keep in mind that this is Ordinary Adventures, so you don’t need to be some kind of super athlete to do this. If you’ve ever watched the Winter Olympics and thought “I wonder what it would be like to try that” then this post is for you! From mellow cross country skiing to biathlon to ski jumping (what?!?) you can learn it just across the border in Whistler. These activities are at Whistler Olympic Park, which is not in the same place as Whistler Blackcomb for downhill skiing. This location is about 45 minutes away (towards Squamish and Vancouver) in the Callahan Valley. It’s a great location for a weekend getaway from Seattle, and you can stay in Squamish or even North or West Vancouver and keep it more affordable than trying to stay at Whistler Village in the middle of ski season. Another thing to note about Whistler Olympic Park is that it has a beautiful day lodge, with food, drink, heated outdoor deck and firepit, changing rooms and FREE showers (bring your own towel).

Getting to Whistler Olympic Park

If you’re driving, it’s about an hour from Squamish and about a 35 minutes from Whistler Village. These are the closest places to get a vacation rental or hotel. It’s about an hour and 45 minutes to drive from Vancouver (plus traffic). There are buses available between downtown Vancouver, the Vancouver airport and Whistler Village. There is also a shuttle bus from Whistler Village to Whistler Olympic Park, so it’s possible to do this car free!

Cross Country (Nordic) Skiing

A person skis under a sign that says "Vancouver" leftover from the Winter Olympics in 2010. Cross country skiing is one winter sport you can learn at Whistler Olympic Park.
No skills? No problem! Lots of lessons available here

British Columbia is full of amazing cross country skiing and if you want to take a lesson this is a fantastic place to do it. You can rent all the gear as well as take a lesson if you like in different styles of cross country skiing. The trails are pretty epic at the location of all the cross country skiing in the 2010 Winter Olympic games. There are some beginner trails but there is also lots of challenge for people with more experience or for people who like to just get wild with a new sport right away (not me! ha!). The Olympic rings are on a beginner trail that’s almost completely flat so you can be out there on your very first day and zoom (or wipe out) right in front of those iconic rings! One note, their blue runs are HARD, a lot harder than the ones in Washington. I’ve found this to be true at most locations for cross country skiing in Canada.

Biathlon

A person holds a gun designed for use in the Olympic Sport of Biathlon on the Biathlon range to learn a new Olympic sport, one of many on offer at Whistler Olympic park
Me trying biathlon target shooting for the first time

Another way to learn a winter olympic sport is by taking a biathlon lesson. If you’re not familiar with biathlon, it’s the event where you ski and also shoot at targets. The lesson includes both a skate skiing lesson as well as target practice. You don’t have to ski with the gun like Olympic athletes do, either! And, getting down on the ground with my skis on wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. I’m not very comfortable with guns (I’m terrified of sudden loud noises for crying out loud). I never thought learning to do biathlon would be something I would enjoy, but it was a great experience. The instructors did a great job making everyone feel comfortable. The gun isn’t that loud. I really loved the target practice and it turned out that I was good at it! Since I’m never good at anything athletic right away, it was really fun for me.

Whistler Sliding Centre: Skeleton and Bobsleigh

If you want to be much more terrified, they also offer an experience in Bobsleigh and Skeleton. I can’t speak for those personally, but if you like to zoom downhill on ice, it would be fun to try. You can also watch competitions when they are happening, a tamer way to experience it!

Ski Jump – Are you COMPLETELY NUTS?

Two very high ski jumps covered in snow are surrounded by forest at Whistler olympic park.
Dizzying Olympic Ski jump at Whistler Olympic Park – No thanks!!

You can literally fly through the air on the ski jump although just standing by it might be enough terror of an experience. At least occasionally they offer ski jump lessons or experiences (an upcoming one was being advertised when we were there). I would suggest calling for when they offer these clinics and what the costs are.

A person holds a gun designed for use in the Olympic Sport of Biathlon on the Biathlon range to learn a new Olympic sport, one of many on offer at Whistler Olympic park. Text reads Olympic Sports you can learn at Whistler
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Jennie Flaming
Jennie Thwing Flaming, Chief Adventure Officer: Jennie's life has been a continual quest for adventure (of the non-adrenalin inducing kind) from birth till now. Professionally, she pursues adventures in teaching, counseling and working to obliterate institutional racism for students in our region's public schools and also works as a tour and hiking guide. Previous professional adventures include working in schools in Seattle and Alaska, leading tours and managing tour guides and presenting traveling science shows and lessons with Pacific Science Center. She believes in sharing her beloved Pacific Northwest home with visitors. She likes to be outdoors and spend time with the people she loves. Jennie is born and raised in Seattle and has also lived in Alaska and the Netherlands.