A new Olympic venue will open its doors to the public for the first time on Thursday.


The Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Centre near Nat Bailey Stadium, which will host curling events during the 2010 Games, sits beside Nat Bailey stadium.


The free opening celebrations run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will feature dance, music and drumming performances, curling and inukshuk-building demos, and a chance to meet Olympic and Paralympic athletes.


Vancouver curler Georgina Wheatcroft, who won the bronze medal at the Salt Lake City Games, said the sport is different from many other Winter Olympic events in that athletes can train in their home rinks.

“You can really be any shape, size or age to curl, and you can even be in a wheelchair,” she said. “But when you get to an elite level there are a lot of tournaments and you curl in an arena.”

The new curling centre will allow Vancouver to host more world-class curling competitions.

“What’s most important about this venue is there’s a legacy to be left … and the Vancouver Curling Club will move into here and have a great state-of-the-art facility and hopefully get all sorts of new members,” Wheatcroft said.