Matt Hallat’s dream of racing down Whistler Mountain in front of a hometown crowd in the 2010 Paralympics edged a little closer yesterday with the release of the first round of tickets.

Hallat, 25, is an eight-year member of the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team who competed in Torino in 2006, and he described the energy and atmosphere at a Whistler test event last month as “outstanding.”

“It just lifts you up and gives you a push,” said Hallat, who lost his leg to cancer just before his sixth birthday and took up skiing two years later.

“It’s amazing how much it affects you. I’m really excited to be at home and have friends and family and people I grew up with watching.”

Unlike the 2010 Olympic tickets, which were sold on a lottery basis, tickets for the Paralympics are first-come, first-served at

Caley Denton, VANOC’s vice-president of ticketing, said traffic on the website was heavy following the release of the tickets at 10 a.m. yesterday.

Tickets, he added, went on sale much earlier than ones for past Paralympics because of public demand.

“When I left at 11 a.m., we were close to selling out our gold-medal sledge game and our Paralympic downhill,” he said.