The 1988 Winter Olympic Games are remembered for many things, but particularly a bobsled team from Jamaica, the antics of English plumber/ski-jumper “Eddie the Eagle,” and most of all, for their success. This 95-hectare (235-acre) park (403/247-5452, www.winsportcanada.ca ) on the south side of the TransCanada Highway on the western outskirts of the city is the legacy Calgarians get to enjoy year-round.
It was developed especially for the Paralympics and the ski-jumping, luge, bobsled, and freestyle skiing events of the games. Now the park offers activities year-round, including tours of the facilities, luge rides, summer ski-jumping, and sports training camps.
In winter, the beginner/intermediate runs are filled with locals who are able to hit the snow as early as November with the help of a complex snowmaking system. Many ski-jumping, bobsled, and luge events of national and international standard are held here throughout winter.
This is North America’s largest museum devoted to the Olympic Games (mid-May–Sept. daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m., adult $8, child $5.50). Three floors catalog the entire history of the Winter Olympic Games through more than 1,500 exhibits, interactive video displays, costumes and memorabilia, an athletes timeline, a bobsled and ski-jump simulator, and highlights from the last five Winter Olympic Games held at Albertville (France), Lillehammer (Norway), Nagano (Japan), Salt Lake City (United States), and Turin (Italy), including costumes worn by Jamie Sale and David Pelletier during their infamous silver-then-gold-medal-winning final skate.
Visible from throughout the city are the 70- and 90-meter ski-jump towers, synonymous with the Winter Olympic Games. These two jumps are still used for national and international competitions and training. A glass-enclosed elevator rises to the observation level. The jump complex has three additional jumps of 15, 30, and 50 meters, which are used for junior competitions and training. All but the 90-meter jump have plastic-surfaced landing strips and are used during summer.
At the western end of the park are the luge and bobsled tracks. A complex refrigeration system keeps the tracks usable even on relatively hot days (up to 28 °C/80 °F). At the bottom of the hill is the Ice House, home to the National Sliding Centre, the world’s only year-round facility where athletes can practice their dynamic starts for luge, bobsled, and skeleton. Self-guided tours (mid-May–Sept. daily 10 p.m.–5 p.m.) cost $16 per person.