In Olympic Footsteps: A North American Tour

The echoes of games past and future still ring out in cities throughout the continent.
By Colleen Kaleda
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The games at Salt Lake will be the tenth held in North America, but if you can't make it to Utah to witness the Olympic glory first-hand, there are plenty of destinations that will give you a taste of past gold and ageless glory. To whit, here are our top picks for reliving the moments from past sites—even skating where Olympians have skated, and luged, and ski-jumped before.

Olympic Valley, California
Here's a no-brainer. To find the Olympics, go to the place with "Olympic" in its name. In the case of Olympic Valley, you'll have hit California gold. Not only did the Squaw Valley host the 1960 Winter Olympics, but it's where the daredevils of the ski world still gather to catch air and plummet down nearly vertical chutes. Take the 120-passenger cable car up 2,000 vertical feet to High Camp, where Olympic-leftover skiing and ice skating can be found. Swimming, tennis, and bungee-jump tower (not Olympic leftovers) await off-season visitors, along with mountain biking. Squaw rewards bikers and hikers handsomely with alpine views of the High Sierra and Lake Tahoe.

Calgary, Alberta
While Calgary may be most famous for its annual Stampede, this fresh-faced Canadian city revels in its history as host of the 1988 Winter Olympics. Downtown's Olympic Plaza welcomes musicians for summer outdoor concerts; in winter locals spin on an outdoor skating rink, created for those amateurs among us. Diehard Olympic skating fans (and wanna-bes) should save their long programs for the Olympic Oval, on the University of Calgary campus. The now-public rink is North America's first covered 400-meter skating track, and the first used in any Olympic Games. A wander over to the Olympic Hall of Fame will keep technophiles happy—this large interactive museum has ski-jump and bobsled simulators and video displays amidst the Olympic memorabilia. Just an hour's drive west is Mt. Allan, Calgary's Olympic ski slopes; shoosh where the medalists gained their gold.

Montreal, Quebec
The Montreal Expos play at the old Stade Olympique, sharing it with the football team as well. Game or no, ascend the stadium's inclined tower for wraparound views. As for other Olympic sites, leave it to the French-Canadians to find a creative, educational use for an old building. They've turned the velodrome, used for bicycling in the 1976 Summer Games, into the Biodome. Inside, four ecosystems pulse with more than 39,000 plants and animals. An ocean swells, and tidal pools and a salt marsh teem with aquatic life. Once you're convinced that Montreal is on the coast, an arctic snow bank appears, then a tropical rainforest, then a lake—complete with beavers. Seasons change in Biodome, too. Guided "behind the scenes" tours show the realities of re-creating each ecosystem.

Published: 25 Aug 2000 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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