Winter Olympic officials will eliminate two days of half-pipe training as they continue to add snow to Cypress Mountain, site of the freestyle and snowboarding events.Athletes now will have three days of training instead of five. The men’s half-pipe is scheduled for Feb. 17; the women’s will be the following day.
“The main thing is to protect the field of play,” said Tim Gayda, vice president for sport for the Vancouver organizing committee.
That means keeping athletes away as helicopters dump a load of snow every three minutes atop parts of Cypress Mountain. Cypress, just north of Vancouver, had the warmest January on record, forcing organisers to bring in snow.
It also might mean using snow hardeners come competition day — a “last resort” Gayda said.
“The forecast is looking positive this week, and we’ll hopefully see some colder temperatures,” he said.
Sarah Lewis, secretary-general of the International Ski Federation, said cutting back the halfpipe training still will give athletes more time on the venue than they would have at a World Cup, which typically features two days of training.
“The situation, the change, it’s the same for everybody,” she said. “We’ve seen that rather a lot of the athletes are choosing to come in a little bit later, to train outside the hecticness of the Olympic atmosphere.”
Freestyle skiers and snowboarders also have been offered trips up to the host mountain resort of Whistler to keep in shape.
Environment Canada officials say recent warm weather is attributed to El Nino and, to a lesser degree, Pineapple Express weather patterns. Both bring warm weather and rain from the Pacific to the west coast of North America.
Cypress, which is just north of Vancouver, has suffered from the warmest January on record forcing organisers into an extensive contingency plan that’s involved bringing into snow from across the province.
Their new hunting ground is about two hours east of Vancouver off the Coquihalla highway, where trucks are now bringing 3,000 cubic meters of snow from Yak Peak.
Source – The Eagle Tribune