The view from Whistler Mountain is something everyone should see: a range of rugged mountains, trails of snow, fir trees and placid lakes below. It's changed since I lived there some years back — there are many more houses, and far better chairlifts — but what remains is the rare feeling of being free, in nature, about to tear into peak snow.

In time for the Games in Vancouver and Whistler, we're thrilled to be bringing this view to the world through Street View on Google Maps. How were we able to gather imagery at 7,000 feet (2,000 meters)? The Street View team's constant experimenting yielded a snowmobile decked out with cameras to capture slope-level imagery of several runs on Whistler Blackcomb Mountains. The view from the top of 7th Heaven chairlift on Blackcomb and from the peak of Whistler are among my favourites, as are the top of the Dave Murray downhill, where the men's alpine skiing events will start, and the Peak 2 Peak gondola. (That's Whistler's new feat of engineering which takes skiers and riders from Whistler to Blackcomb.) With the Street View trike, we've also covered Whistler Village and Whistler Creekside at the mountains' bases. There's more about the snowmobile's journey and this imagery on the Google Lat Long Blog.

This imagery and many other tools are now ready to ride on our new website with information about the Games, available in 40 languages. We've combined up-to-date medal counts, news, event results and event schedules with rich visuals: 3D models and Street View imagery of the competition venues, plus new aerial imagery of the Vancouver-Whistler area. It's all in an iGoogle gadget, too. The site also connects you with real-time search results for the Games, local experts' Favourite Places and a special Picasa Web Albums gallery of featured photos from Vancouver — some submitted by users and others from Google News. Whether you're celebrating at home or in Vancouver, simply add a "wintergames2010" tag to your own photos in Picasa Web Albums, or use "wintergames2010" as the email subject if you're uploading from your mobile phone, and we'll feature the best ones.

As an extra treat for enthusiasts, check out the Google homepage from February 12 to 28 for a special doodle each day celebrating the Games. You can also get the most up-to-date medal counts, event results and schedules by doing a simple Google search. I'll be following [men's hockey] myself, and rooting for Team Canada.