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Olympic venue legacy on track - a bobsled track

The Olympic Rings hang over Richmond Olympic Oval during speed skating training ahead of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 8, 2010.

Dylan Martinez / Reuters/Dylan Martinez / Reuters

A chance to hurtle headfirst down an icy, twisting track at speeds of up to 90 kilometres an hour, perched precariously on a mere slip of a sled, is likely not the first thing that comes to mind when toting up public legacies left behind by February's multibillion-dollar Olympic blowout.

But yes, allowing ordinary folks to channel their inner Jon Montgomery into a swift, skeleton descent on the fastest sliding track in the world - for about $60 a crack - is one of the features to be offered up by those in charge of keeping the controversial facility in operation for years to come.

"I'm not sure I'll be the first to try it," says Keith Bennett, president and CEO of Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies. "But the start will be far enough down the track that the sled will hold you to the route. You'd have to do something pretty catastrophic to get into trouble."

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Bobsled runs, with an experienced driver, are likely to set you back $125. Once these touristy ventures are approved by the B.C. safety board, Mr. Bennett expects both of them to be popular and bring in cash.

That's a key ingredient in the ongoing quest to ensure that the post-Olympic landscape is not littered with costly, white-elephant venues from the Games.

So far, so good. Or, mostly good, seven months after the end of the 2010 Winter Games. All the hopes in the world can't wish away the severe financial ills of Vancouver's troubled Olympic Village. But otherwise, much remains to show for the billions spent, from the spectacular, multi-sport public facility at the Richmond Oval, to a new community/curling/library complex and sparkling aquatic centre in Vancouver, to a badly needed, affordable housing development for those who want to live and work in Whistler.

There are the added fillips of two neighbourhood rinks on Vancouver's east side and a lavish arena at the University of British Columbia, plus the little-publicized bonus of 156 units of social housing reconfigured from several hundred, temporary modular apartments for the athletes' village in Whistler and distributed across the province.

Time has run out, however, on the priceless photo op afforded by the iconic Olympic Countdown Clock outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. Officials announced Friday that the Olympic side of the stylish timepiece is being shunted indoors, to BC Place, while the Paralympic section is headed to the Olympic Park in Whistler.

VANOC chief John Furlong is evidently satisfied with how the legacy plans are proceeding. "It's playing out. All the key venues have flipped over to what they were supposed to do after the Games. It's exactly as we envisioned. We've come around the bend and have now made it possible for B.C. to build a permanent culture of sport."

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