February 12 marks the official beginning of Whistler's one-year countdown to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The day will be celebrated with live music, and some of Canada's top athletes plan to visit.

Those vacationing this winter at [R493R, Whistler Blackcomb] can grab a preview of the Olympic Games by catching this year's World Cup action. You'll not only get to see the new venues, but also get a chance to see athletes working up to their Olympic bids.

Whistler Olympic Park plays host Jan. 23-24 to the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup. Jumpers compete individually, and in teams of four. Admission is free for spectators.

Whistler Sliding Centre guides tours of the bobsleigh, skeleton, and luge tracks Tuesdays through Sundays, 2 to 6 p.m., for $5 per person all winter long. Catch athletes flying down the tracks during the FIBT Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup Feb. 2-8 and the FIL Luge World Cup Feb. 16-22. One-day tickets for spectators are $5 per person.

The IBU Biathlon World Cup is scheduled for Mar. 11-15 at Whistler Olympic Park.

Paralympic World Cups will also be held at Whistler. The IPC Cross-Country Skiing and Biathlon World Cup Finals is scheduled for Mar. 5-8 at Whistler Olympic Park. The IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals runs Mar. 9-14 on Whistler race courses with top athletes from 16 countries competing in standing, sitting, and visually-impaired classes.