Monday
Feb012010

Vancouver Winter Olympics' New 'Theme' Song: Let It Snow, Let It Show . . . 

February 1, 2010: . . . .Let it snow.

While watching world class freestyle skiers and snowboarders complete for medals at the 2010 Winter Olympics, perhaps the most important term to know and understand is not front somersault, half pipe or double corker. It would be  "snow harvesting."

Both events will take place on Cypress Mountain, located in West Vancouver. But without snow harvesting such athletes as Hannah Kearney, Patrick Deneen, Shaun White, Seth Westcott and Hannah Teter might just as well have skipped the up coming Games.

Due to what has been described as "ongoing unseasonably warm weather," the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games has been undertaking an  "aggressive and intensive effort " to implement a contingency plan that has been getting Cypress Mountain in shape to stage competitions.  Although not bereft of snow, the amount on Cypress was far from enough to stage world-class events.

Snow harvesting basically entails moving snow and "planting" it elsewhere. In this case, according to VANOC, entailed a team of 45 people working 24/7 using eight snowcats and two large dump trucks has moved more than 300 truckloads of snow from the top of Mount Strachan onto the Olympic course.

In addition, more than 1,050 bales of straw have been brought in to replace the base of packed snow originally anticipated but that has not arrived. The bales will  be covered with a layer of snow, including about 800 bales that were airlifted into place by helicopter to "shape and construct snowboard cross and ski cross course features."

According to Dick Vollet, VANOC’s vp-mountain venues, changes made on the  competition courses as a result of snow harvesting also forced organizers to change other key areas, including broadcast positions, for NBC, seating access, technology, sport production and overlay plans. "Every team ―  including those who are dedicated to other mountain venues ―  is pulling together to make the changes and provide the support that will ensure Cypress Mountain works well in every aspect during the Games,” Vollet said in a statement.

Snow harvesting was "substantially completed by Jan. 29," according to VANOC, but snow will continue to be moved in "to build up existing stockpiles . . .  to account for snow melt."

In addition to the harvesting efforts, 35 snow guns have been operating around-the-clock since November to convert more than 21 million gallons of water into the snow needed to construct the courses. Cypress Mountain still has a snowmaking reservoir of more than five million gallons.

“The plan to stage the freestyle and snowboard events on Cypress Mountain is continuing full steam ahead,” Tim Gayda, VANOC’s vp-sport, said in a statement. “We’ve made great progress in preparing the venue thanks to our team that’s been working night and day to deliver on the contingency plan we had ready."

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