WHISTLER, B.C. -- Chandra Crawford is a living Olympic Games legacy.

She grew up in Canmore, Alta., cross-country skiing at the venue built for the 1988 Calgary Olympics. That facility helped sow the competitive seeds that grew into Crawford winning the sprint event at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

"I can't say enough about how that shaped my life, those opportunities to race in my hometown and just be exposed to such a cool sport," says Crawford, one of Canada's medal contenders heading into the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

Canada goes into the Vancouver Olympics with legitimate medal chances in sports such as cross-country skiing, long-track speedskating, bobsled and skeleton. The country's success in these events is a direct result of the facilities left from the Calgary Games.

Athletes and sport federation officials agree the legacy from the $580 million worth of venues built or upgraded for the 2010 Vancouver Games will be just as important, but will take a different form.

Vancouver isn't likely to grow into a major winter sports hub and elite athlete breeding ground like Calgary did following the '88 Games. In the past 20-plus years, the Alberta city has become the headquarters for several national sport organizations and the training base for many of Canada's top winter athletes.

"I don't think we will see the same kinds of physical legacies left," says Chris Rudge, chief executive officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee. "We are a small country with a small population. At some point there becomes a bit of a redundancy in terms of the need for major physical legacies."

The 2010 venues will offer a grassroots introduction into Olympic sports, or provide a place for elite athletes to fine-tune their skills through practice and competition.

"For the first time ever kids can become lugers and bobsledders here in B.C.," says Cathy Priestner Allinger, executive vice-president for sport and Games operations for the Vancouver organizing committee, known as VANOC.

Competitions at the 2010 Games, which open in just over a year, will be held in both Vancouver and the resort community of Whistler about two hours north of the city.

The $119.7-million Whistler Olympic Park, located about 20 kilometres southwest of Whistler, will host cross-country skiing, ski jumping and biathlon. The $104-million Whistler Sliding Centre will be the site for bobsled, luge and skeleton. VANOC also spent $27.6 million improving Whistler Creekside, which will host the alpine events.

After the Games, the Olympic park and sliding centre will be managed by Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies.

"Our goal is to see these two facilities span a new generation of Canadian athletes and, in particular, local athletes just like Calgary has done coming out of 1988," says Paul Shore, the group's manager of marketing and business.

"Does that mean we become the national training centre for those sports? Not necessarily."

Shore's organization is in the process of drawing up a business plan to fund the venues once the Olympics are over.

Sara Renner, a silver medallist in Turin, would like to see the cross-country venue become a regular stop on the World Cup tour.

"That's where athletes will get the most benefit, if there is a regular World Cup here every year," she says. "If it didn't, if there were no events here, it would be a real loss."

Ron Read, high performance director for Ski Jumping Canada, says the two, state-of-the-art ski jumps could easily host World Cup events. But they won't do much to introduce youngsters to the sport because the jumps are too advanced for beginners.

"It's like building a ski area with nothing but double-black diamond runs," says Read. "You have to have somewhere for the kids to start."

He'd like to see some development jumps built in either Whistler or nearby Squamish.

Walter Corey, high performance director for Luge Canada, says the sliding centre built on Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler will develop young racers in all three disciplines.

"There is a large potential of extremely talented, potential bobsled and skeleton athletes in the lower mainland," says Corey. "It is really going to develop our sport nationally."

Max Gartner, chief athletics officer for Alpine Canada, says Lake Louise will continue to host Canada's World Cup ski races for the foreseeable future. The Alberta resort is able to maintain snow in late November and early December when FIS, ski racing's international governing body, wants to hold North American races.

The Creekside runs will be used for development and training, Gartner says. They also allow Canada to bid for international events like the world junior championships, World Cup finals and even the world alpine championships.

Olympic venues built in the Vancouver area include the Richmond Olympic Oval (long-track speedskating), the Vancouver Olympic Centre (curling) and a hockey arena at the University of British Columbia. Cypress Mountain, which will host snowboarding and freestyle skiing, received upgrades.

Jean Dupre, director general of Speed Skating Canada, says the Calgary Olympic Oval will remain the main training centre for the long-track speedskating.

The ice will be removed from the Richmond oval after the Games. The infrastructure will remain in place to host World Cup events in Richmond, "if the financial model allows it," Dupre says.

VANOC contributed $63.3 million towards building the oval. It is part of a 33,750-square-metre, $178-million facility which will be used as a community recreation centre after the Olympics. Included in the centre will be two international sized ice rinks which can be used for short-track speedskating.

The plan is for the oval complex to become a short-track speedskating training centre. The venue could also host short-track World Cup races. Right now, most of Canada's short-track skaters train in Quebec.

"For us, short-trackers all come from the East," says Dupre. "To have a very strong and very good training and competition facility in Richmond, I think will help a lot for the development of our short-track discipline."

During the Olympics, short-track speedskating will be held in the Pacific Coliseum along with figure skating. The building, home of the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League, underwent a $19-million upgrade for the Games.

VANOC contributed $38.5 million toward building the UBC Thunderbird Arena, which will host both men's and women's preliminary hockey games. The venue will become a recreational and high-performance multi-sport facility after the Olympics.

GM Place, home of the NHL's Canucks, will also host hockey games, including both the men's and women's finals. VANOC spent $18.5 million upgrading the 18,630-seat arena, which will be known as Canada Hockey Place during the Games.

B.C. Place, the home of the CFL's B.C. Lions, will host the opening and closing ceremonies.

Some sports organizations are skeptical about post-Games venue use.

Warren Hanson, director of event operations and media for the Canadian Curling Association, says the $40-million Canada Olympic Centre will be of little use for curling after the Olympics.

The curling association had hoped for a 10,000-seat facility that could host major competitions. Instead, the venue will seat about 6,000 for the Olympics, then will become a multi-purpose community recreation centre.

"We didn't have much to do with what took place in that whole issue," says Hanson. "We certainly would have liked to have a venue that could have been used in the future for other events."

Both the Canadian Snowboard Association and Canadian Freestyle Ski Association question if they will return to Cypress Mountain after VANOC spent $16.6 million upgrading the facility for the Games.

"It's going to depend on the relationship that we have with the resort," says Peter Judge, freestyle skiing's chief executive officer. "I don't know if the appetite is there, from their side, to host events in a post-2010 world."

Tom McIllfaterick, CEO of the Canadian Snowboard Federation, says weather concerns make Calgary or Whistler a more desirable location for World Cup events.

"We just have to look at the various options . . . and just figure out which one makes the most sense for us, financially but also in terms of building interest in the sport," he says.

Rudge says the most important legacy from the Vancouver Olympics could be the establishment of programs that target funding for Canada's high-performance athletes. That has changed the mindset of Canadian athletes into believing they can win Olympic medals.

"That came about as a result of us wanting to do well at these Games," he says. "That is now part of the cultural thinking of high-performance sport in Canada that hasn't been there before to the same degree.

"That may be just as important a legacy as a physical legacy."