Choppers prepping ski hills for snow

VANOC preparing for too little snow

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER - Organizers of the 2010 Winter Olympics aren’t moving mountains, but they are feverishly moving snow from one to another.

Two dozen snowcats and two large dump trucks have moved 300 loads of snow from the top of Mount Strachan, where it’s three metres deep, to the Black Mountain snowboarding and freestyle skiing courses. Two helicopters have moved 800 of the 1,065 bales of straw used as a foundation for the snow.

"We are running the events at Cypress, we have no intention of moving from that venue,” said VANOC’s vice-president of sport Tim Gayda. “If we get winter coming back, it just makes our life easier. If it doesn’t, we have the resources in terms of equipment, people and snow to get the job done.”

Cypress Mountain is the first Winter Olympics snow sports venue with a view of the Pacific Ocean and is prone to rain and fog. Gayda said VANOC always planned to deal with too much or too little snow.

“We could’ve had the reversal where Whistler was in this predicament and Cypress had the snow,” he said. Whistler has almost 10 metres and is “Games-ready.”

Environment Canada meteorologist David Jones said Metro Vancouver is on the verge of setting records for a warm, wet January thanks to an El Nino. A long-range forecast for Feb. 5-12 shows a higher probability of above normal temperatures to begin the Games.

Environment Canada spent $13.4 million preparing for the Olympics by installing weather stations at venues, adding a Doppler radar near the Callaghan Valley and relaunching its website.

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