A brief overview of what to expect when planning to attend the Vancouver Winter Games:
For the first time, the opening and closing ceremonies -- and the nightly medal ceremonies -- will be held indoors, at the domed BC Place Stadium.
Hockey and figure skating will be held in downtown Vancouver. Hockey will be played at GM Place and UBC Thunderbird Arena. Pacific Coliseum will hold figure skating and short-track skating.
Curling will be at the Vancouver Olympic Centre.
Speed skating will be at the new oval in Richmond, the nearest southern suburb.
Snowboarding, aerials, ski-cross and moguls will be at Cypress Mountain, just a 30-minute drive from downtown Vancouver (though it will take longer because you'll almost certainly feel the urge to stop at the incredible viewpoints).
Downhill skiing and the bobsled track are at Whistler. Cross-country, biathlon and jumping events will be at Whistler Olympic Park, about 16 miles back toward Vancouver.
Most tickets have already been sold. Cosport.com is the exclusive primary seller of tickets to U.S. fans, and it will hold a second phase of ticketing this spring. (Don't expect bargains. Gold-medal hockey game prices ranged from $350 to $775 and curling tickets went for as much as $125. Yes, curling.) Craigslist and StubHub! are familiar spots for buying tickets on the secondary market. Hitting up sponsor groups at the venue for unused tickets can be a great strategy. One excellent, cheaper event ($22) is the nightly medal ceremonies at BC Stadium, where the athletes receive their medals from that day's events amid a festive atmosphere.
Some major hotel chains are not taking reservations, yet, but private individuals are already listing homes and rooms on Craigslist. 2010destinationplanner.com is a source for rooms in and around Vancouver. Cosport.com offers lodging packages, as well, though the rates are very expensive.
While the downhill and slalom events will be at Creekside, the runs at Whistler and Blackcomb proper will be open for business as usual with some of the finest skiing on the continent. Daily lift tickets at Whistler are $89.
Whistler Olympic Park will be restricted during the Games, but it is open now for cross-country skiers and snowshoers. "This is our legacy," a beaming worker said beside a groomed trail. "We get to keep this."