The official party line in Vancouver the week before the Olympics is that snowfall received by Whistler Blackcomb this season has nearly matched the average annual haul of 33 feet. Intrawest, the owner of Whistler Blackcomb, cheerfully reports the resort received 32.5 feet of snow by the end of January, the most to fall on the mountains by this time since the 1979-80 season.
But the word on the ground is that early dumps haven’t guaranteed a winter wonderland for the Olympics. ESPN reports that a lack of new snow and temperatures too warm for snowmaking have left Cypress Mountain, the site of freestyle skiing and snowboarding events, skiercross and boardercross on the north shore of Vancouver, somewhat bare. But with the better part of a decade and a budget of two billion dollars invested in the Olympics, VANOC isn’t going to cross their fingers, do a snow dance, and hope for the best. Instead, the plan is to use wood and straw for the base of ski cross and snowboard cross courses. The New York Times reports that snow-moving equipment, dump trucks, and even a helicopter will bring in artificial and natural snow stockpiled at higher elevations.
So never fear, says Peter Judge, chief executive officer of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association. As he told ESPN, “At the end of the day it’s all going to come off, it’s going to be white and it’s going to look good.”