With just one week to go until the opening ceremonies, the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver are struggling to find enough snow for some of the planned events. In particular, Cypress Mountain, which will host snowboarding and freestyle competitions beginning February 13, has been scrambling to complete their halfpipe, as well as the ski and snowboard cross courses. The resort has so little snow in fact, that they’ve resorted to using over 1000 bales of straw to construct the needed infrastructure, and have had more than 300 truckloads of snow delivered from elsewhere around the area.
It has been an unusual winter so far in Vancouver, with average temperatures at their highest point in more than 70 years. Experts are placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of the El Niño weather pattern, which has been warming the Pacific Ocean for several months. The result has been little to no snowfall across the region in January, which means no new, fresh powder for the athletes, who began arriving yesterday in preparation for the games. The forecast for February doesn’t look much better, as more unseasonably high temperatures, and rain, not snow, are expected in the days ahead.
International Ski Federation president Gian-Franco Kasper told the Canadian press that he isn’t worried, as just 10 cm of snow is needed to cover the straw and make it ready for the athletes. Other event organizers say that while the lack of snow has been an issue across all the venues, Cypress Mountain is the only one that has caused significant concerns. They also promise that everything will be ready when the games officially open next Friday.
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