Snow a no-go at Cypress; trucking It In
The Denver Post
VANCOUVER – High-rise balconies in the Olympic Village are draped with flags from around the world, signifying the presence of athletes already lodged inside, and the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics is only two days away.
It doesn’t seem much like winter at the Winter Olympics, though, at least not in greater Vancouver. A light jacket is more than adequate for outdoor activities in the spring-like weather, and there isn’t a snowflake to be found for miles.
Fans of Lindsey Vonn and the nordic combined athletes from Steamboat Springs can relax. There’s plenty of snow at Whistler, two hours up the Sea to Sky Highway from here, so the alpine and nordic venues are fine.
But organizers are hustling to prepare the slopes at nearby Cypress Mountain, 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver, where snowboarding and freestyle skiing will be held. The fact that organizers have had to transport massive amounts of snow is big news, especially since it’s the only real news at the moment, in the wettest, and warmest, metro area to host a Winter Games.
“On the one hand, we were always urging for ‘green’ Games,” International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said, going for humor, “but perhaps we have to plead for something else.”
Vancouver Organizing Committee crews have been working around the clock at Cypress, trucking in snow from a mountain pass three hours away. In addition, helicopters have been bringing in snow from nearby hills by the bucket.
The moguls course is ready, but the halfpipe, aerials jumps and snowboardcross and skicross track are not.
“As you can see, we’ve got a lot of work left to do,” VANOC vice president of mountain operations Dick Vollet said Tuesday at Cypress in a news conference repeatedly interrupted by overhead helicopters so loud that speakers could not be heard. “But all in all, I think we’re very positive as to how the venue is coming together. We’re quite happy with where we are, given that we are fighting Mother Nature, and sometimes she’s not so forgiving.”
VANOC officials took the unusual step of barring the media from watching training Monday for mogul skiing at Cypress as they worked to get the mountain ready for practice runs. Organizers say they are confident the unfinished courses will be ready in time, and the moguls course appears to be in good shape.
“It’s in better shape than Torino (in 2006),” former U.S. moguls skier Jeremy Bloom said during Tuesday night’s official training session. “I think they’ve done a great job. Everyone says the snow is really good.”
Bloom is here working for NBC, as is Jonny Moseley, the 1998 Olympic champion.
“It looks awesome,” Moseley said. “Hotdog skiing is kind of a spring sport. That’s what we’re dealing with here, sort of spring conditions.”
Organizers may have been asking for trouble by scheduling ski events at a venue 3,000 feet above sea level. At least they didn’t try to put a downhill race here.
“Cypress is a fantastic venue,” Vollet said. “It’s the mountain experience in the city. If we had the snow we had last winter this winter, we’d be having a different conversation.”
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