Olympic officials say they’ll be trucking in snow
VANCOUVER – Olympic organizers plan to truck in snow for the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events at Cypress Mountain.
The forecast for the week ahead suggests there will be no new snow for the mountain on Vancouver’s north shore, nor will it get cold enough to make any, the organizers said Wednesday after their final board meeting before next month’s Olympic Games.
“We are planning that we will not have snow,” said Cathy Priestner Allinger, executive vice president of sport and games operations for the organizing committee, known as VANOC.
Contingency plans are now being rolled out which include using straw and wood to take the place of snow to build the base for the courses.
But Priestner Allinger said they believe there is enough snow elsewhere on the mountain and they will use trucks, snow cats and if necessary helicopters to move snow to the event sites.
“We are going to create a fantastic field of play and we are just doing it a little differently than we had originally planned,” she said.
Last week, organizers announced Cypress Mountain was being closed to preserve the snow for the games. Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli had said the warm weather was not a concern because reserves of snow had been made on the mountain when it was cold.
The Olympic flame will be lit at the opening ceremonies on Feb. 12.
Christian Hrab, high performance director for Canada Snowboard, said the design of the course is what matters most to his athletes.
“What we are looking for is shape,” Hrab said.
“How it is built is irrelevant to our performance. Usually it’s made of snow. If the builders in VANOC find alternate ways of giving us a great course, it will not affect us.”
The lack of snow could result in a less demanding course for the ski cross and snowboard cross races, but moguls and aerials don’t require much snow, said Peter Judge, chief executive officer of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association.
“If they don’t have the material they can’t build the features (jumps) as big or as radical as maybe they had originally planned,” Judge said. “That may have some affect in terms of dumbing the course down a little bit.”
Judge doubted the change would harm the image of the Vancouver Games.
“Everybody understands we are dealing with outdoor sports and with venues that are susceptible to these kind of things,” he said. “I don’t see it would be something that would be extremely negative.
“At the end of the day it’s all going to come off, it’s going to be white and it’s going to look good.”