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The Where List: Best Places to Try an Olympic Sport

The 2010 Winter Olympics may be over, but if you, like many Canadians, have been inspired by the games, here are the best places across the country where you can feel like an Olympic athlete.

Whistler

Grab your snowboard or skis and head to Whistler and Blackcomb mountains to carve down the same trails as Vancouver 2010 Olympic gold medallist Lindsey Vonn and local favourite Britt Janyk.

Victoria

Get inspired for the the coming 2012 Summer Olympics with one of Victoria’s specialities: rowing and paddling. See some of Canada’s best rowers training at Elk Lake, about 15 minutes from downtown, or try your hand at various watersports at the Gorge Rowing and Paddling Centre. Located right on the Gorge Waterway, the centre offers rowing, dragon boating, outrigger canoeing and kayaking programs for all ages and experience levels.

Canadian Rockies

Try either classic or skate cross-country skiing at the Canmore Nordic Centre where world-class athletes continue to make the sport look easy. This ’88 Olympic venue still hosts World Cup events and there’s nothing more thrilling than pretending to hear the roar of cheering fans and clang of cowbells while swooshing to the “finish line” near the stands.

Winnipeg

Pan Am Pool was built so that Winnipeg could host the 1967 Pan Am Games and was revamped again for the 1999 Pan Am Games. The complex features three pools, two of which are used for competitions and eight diving springboards/platforms.

Ottawa

Hit the powder at Mont Tremblant. Whether you’re into downhill, halfpipe or jumps, this mountain feeds your need with 95 runs on over 628 acres of terrain.

Vancouver

In honour of the Canadian gold medal curling team, head to the Richmond Curling Club and try your hand at throwing the stones and sweeping. At the end of March, the Richmond Olympic Oval will re-open to the public—an exciting opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Clara Hughes and Jeremy Wotherspoon.

Toronto

Canada’s southern-most provincial capital is more equipped for summer sports than Nordic- and Alpine-inspired endeavours. Here, you can partake in athletic activities at a number of venues, the most prominent of which is the Downsview Park Sports Centre. The massive site is home to The Hangar—an indoor facility for soccer, ball hockey and volleyball—and the Hoop Dome basketball centre, which offers pick-up play during certain hours.

Edmonton

Edmontonians and visitors alike can try their hand at snowboarding and skiing at our local ski slope Rabbit Hill. Whether you’re a moguls fan, or a bit of a daredevil on the half pipe, bring out your inner Olympian and catch some air!

Halifax

Take a shot at Olympic sports like hockey and basketball, and see a ton of neat exhibits and interactive displays, at the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame on Duke Street in Halifax. In addition to a wealth of rare photos, trophies and sports memorabilia, the hall has a mini-basketball court and ball-hockey rink. It even boasts the Avco Cup, the championship trophy of the old World Hockey Association.

Calgary

Skating fans can try their feet on a 400-metre oval track at the Olympic Oval, built for the ’88 Winter Olympics at the University of Calgary, while those looking to improve their speed can jog along their 450-metre indoor running track. Also in town is Canada Olympic Park, also a site of the ’88 Olympic Winter Games. Winter attractions include downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and at certain times of the year, the public can even try the luge, bobsleigh and skeleton track. While in the summer, mountain bikers can try their 25 kilometres of bike trails.

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