Whistler is hosting the Nordic events, including biathlon and bobsled, during the Vancouver Olympics. (Tourism Vancouver)
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All of the Winter Olympics' Nordic sports — including biathlon and bobsled — are taking place in the winter wonderland of Whistler, British Columbia, a world-class but unpretentious mountain resort two hours north of Vancouver.
From almost anywhere in the village, the base of the mountains is only steps away.
When skiers and snowboarders reach the bottom, they can walk directly to innumerable bars, all with heated patios, for an alpine tradition: the après-ski drink. The work force is young, irresistibly friendly and largely foreign to Canada — including a significant contingent of Australians.
For an off-the-slopes thrill, ziplining — free-flying through the forest canopy over creeks and wildlife in a seat harness hanging from a suspended cable — has taken hold in Whistler, and not just during the summer.
If there's one drawback to visiting Vancouver and Whistler, it's the exchange rate. The Canadian dollar is currently on par with the U.S. dollar, a historic high that makes a visit expensive for Americans.
But the liveliness, warm Canadian hospitality and adventure make for an unforgettable visit, even long after the Olympics leave town.
If you go
Vancouver is about a three-hour drive from the Seattle area, and Whistler is a couple of hours farther north. If you're not stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord or Naval Base Kitsap, Wash., you'll probably want to fly. Nearly every major airline flies to Vancouver International Airport. Don't forget your passport: You'll need it when you return, either by land or air. And, no, your military ID is not enough, unless you're on official orders and in uniform. Several coach companies run frequent shuttles from Vancouver (both the airport and points downtown) to Whistler, including day-trip options.