How to Party with an Olympian

Where the athletes will be seen and served in Vancouver

How to party with an OlympianVancouver restaurateur Jack Evrensel has 615 bottles of champagne—one for each Olympic medallist—ready to be put on ice. The man behind acclaimed hot spots West, Blue Water Café, CinCin and Araxi in Whistler has issued an open invitation to every medal winner to show up at any one of his locations for a complimentary bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte Blue Label Brut. “It’s an opportunity to celebrate,” he says. It’s also a marketing master stroke, even by sponsor-saturated Olympic standards—both his restaurants and the bubbly burnished by Olympic excellence and achievement in one go. Plus the real bonus: patron proximity to the hottest athletes.

Offering an opportunity to party with Olympians has become a cutthroat sport in itself leading up to the Games. It helps if you’re a sponsor, of course. If not, expect to pay. There are day passes running $99 to upwards of $450 to Molson Canadian Hockey House in downtown Vancouver. There, visitors have the chance to brush up against former NHL greats, including Stan Smyl, Hockey House’s official ambassador, as well as Cam Neely, Paul Coffey and even the Great One himself. Additionally, a deal struck between Hockey House and the Canadian Olympic Committee requires all Canadian medallists to put in a command appearance within 48 hours of their win.

Athletes are also expected to flit in and out of their respective country “houses,” many of which are headquartered in bars and restaurants open to the public, such as Switzerland House at Whistler’s Mountain Club Restaurant and Bavaria House at Nicklaus North Golf Club. France House at Whistler’s 21 Steps restaurant, on the other hand, is off limits to anyone but sponsors, guests and media. Nor is there public access to Canada House, located on the sixth floor of the downtown Bay store. Anyone hopeful for a glimpse of ski-crosser Ashleigh McIvor, for instance, will have to hang out at the escalators. A slightly better option would be to show up at Whistler Canada House at the Whistler Public Library, which will be open to the public on Saturdays during the Games.

The throngs wishing to rub up against Canada’s snowboard team could have their wish granted at the Cellar, the official home of the Canadian Snowboard Federation during the Games. Tania Richards, the Cellar’s marketing director, says there’s already been huge interest from young women keen to meet Matthew Morison and his mates.

The best partying with athletes, however, might not be with actual medal winners at all. The Jamaican bobsled team, disqualified from competition, has set up its base camp at the Savage Beagle in Whistler nonetheless. “They’re representing Jamaica as ambassadors,” says the club’s spokesperson, Nicole Athoff. The admission price for the upstairs lounge, where the athletes will hang and a Jamaican flavour will prevail, has yet to be decided. Another athlete party nexus is destined to be upstairs from the Cellar behind Doolin’s Irish Pub. There, the Olympic Council of Ireland has set up Irish House, a 9,000-sq.-foot, 750-person capacity space. The Irish athletes figure they’ll be done early and ready for some world-class drinking, Richards says. Too bad there aren’t any medals for that.