WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia – A clattering helicopter and a rumbling truck dumped snow on Cypress Mountain, the warm weather-plagued venue where the first Winter Olympic event is just four days away.
Olympic organizers opened parts of the mountain to media for the first time Tuesday, showing off a snow-covered moguls course with big patches of dirt on either side. The snowboard halfpipe remained off limits.
“All in all, I think we are very positive about how things have come together,” said Dick Vollet, the Vancouver organizing committee’s head of mountain operations. “We are quite happy with where we are given that we are fighting Mother Nature and sometimes she can be very unforgiving.”
The conditions on Cypress Mountain have been the most dominant concern leading up to the games, which open Friday.
VANOC chief executive officer Jack Furlong described the efforts to get the venue prepared as being organizers’ greatest challenge.
Rainfall and the warmest January on record in the region have forced crews to work around the clock to prepare the tracks.
“The amount of work that has been done against these conditions is really hard to believe,” Furlong said.
As reporters walked into the resort just less than an hour’s drive from Vancouver, blue-clad workers with brooms were sweeping snow around the top of the moguls course and a helicopter ferried back and forth with crateloads of snow dangling beneath it from a long rope.
Flags and fences already line the course, which was hosting its second day of training Tuesday.
Vollet said about 170 truckloads of snow have arrived from three hours away to help build up and maintain the courses and halfpipe. He repeatedly had to halt his news conference because of helicopter noise.
Temperatures dipped below freezing overnight, Vollet said. Long-range forecasts are mixed and include the possibility of rain through Saturday, the day of the first event – qualification and finals of the women’s freestyle moguls. The men’s freestyle moguls follow on Sunday.
Two days of training already have been canceled to help maintain the snowboard halfpipe, and organizers are ready to drape tarps over the entire halfpipe if it starts raining.