Cypress Mountain will host despite little snow

Published January 28, 2010

| AP

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Snow or no snow, freestyle skiing and snowboarding at Cypress Mountain will go forward.

Crews are working around the clock using natural and man-made snow to ensure courses are ready, Tim Gayda, vice president of sport for the Winter Games, said Thursday.

"We are running these events at Cypress," Gayda said. "We have no intention of moving from that venue. We have enough people and enough snow to get the job done."

Unseasonably warm, wet weather in the Vancouver area has been a worry for organizers in recent weeks. Cypress Mountain was closed to the public 2½ weeks earlier than planned to protect the snow.

More than 300 dump trucks of snow have already been used to create courses, and straw and wood are being laid to create bases for the snow.

"It's like Lego," said Eric Fremont, organizing committee manager of freestyle skiing and snowboard events. "We're stacking the straw and building a foundation. Then, we put the snow on top."

Organizing committee meteorologist Chris Doyle said the freezing level was moving down the mountain and was expected to remain that way until Tuesday.

Gretchen Bleiler, the 2006 halfpipe silver medalist, said the athletes can't focus on the conditions.

"We're all in the exact same boat. We're all going to the exact same halfpipe, and we all have to ride the exact same conditions," Bleiler said. "There's no point in worrying about anything. What we get is what we get. We're gonna have to make due with whatever it is and rise to the occasion and ride the best we can."

Last February, a parallel giant slalom event at Cypress had to be canceled because of poor snow conditions.

"We came up with our plans this year to make sure that doesn't happen again," Gayda said.

Canadian Freestyle Skiing Association CEO Peter Judge remains confident the organizing committee will have Cypress ready.

"There is no doubt in my mind this can be managed," he said.

Doyle said the lack of snow was attributed to warm weather and rain from the Pacific.

The story was far different at Whistler, which will host the downhill, men's ski jumping and sliding events. With nearly 32 feet of snow, Whistler has an unprecedented amount for the end of January. Whistler has been declared games-ready by international ski officials.

This is not the first time a Winter Olympics has faced a lack of snow.

In 1998, Nagano had major concerns about a lack of snow in the months before the games. Heavy snow forced organizers to cancel events and left spectators stranded.

According to the International Olympic Committee, the 1964 Innsbruck Games also faced a lack of snow. The Austrian army rushed to the rescue, carving out 20,000 blocks of ice from the mountainside, which they transported to the luge and bobsled tracks. They also carried 1.4 million cubic feet of snow to the Alpine ski slopes.

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Associated Press National Writer Eddie Pells in Aspen, Colo., contributed to this report.

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