In response to ongoing unseasonably warm weather, an aggressive and intensive effort by VANOC to implement its contingency plan to ready Cypress Mountain to host competitions at the Olympic Games is starting to pay dividends.
All snow moving from higher elevations onto snowboard and freestyle courses is expected to be completed by late Friday, January 29. The shaping and grooming of all courses has begun in earnest and, when temperatures allow, snow making will continue at the venue to build up existing stockpiles. The venue team has implemented a variety of operational changes to ensure the integrity of all key considerations: the field of play for competition, as well as the television broadcast and live spectator experience.
"Our plan has always been to stage the freestyle and snowboard events on Cypress Mountain and we're continuing full steam ahead," said Tim Gayda, vice president of sport for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC). "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 readyWe look forward to hosting some of the world's greatest athletes on Cypress Mountain in just over two weeks."
"Changes to the design of the competition courses necessitate adaptations in other critical areas, including broadcast positions, seating access, technology, sport production and overlay plans, to name just a few. 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," said Dick Vollet, Vice President, Mountain Venues.
On January 13, VANOC and Cypress Mountain management agreed to close the West Vancouver ski resort's alpine runs to the public in order to undertake the significant preparation required to ready the mountain for Olympic competition, especially in light of the unseasonably warm and wet weather.
Since then, a dedicated team of 45 people working 24/7 have used eight of a fleet of 24 snowcats and two large dump trucks to move more than 300 truckloads of snow from the top of Mount Strachan - where more than three metres of snow remains untouched in the Skychair area - to the field of play on neighbouring Mount Black. In the case of the of mogul and aerials venue, the steepness of the course requires the snow to be winched up Black Mountain by snowcats.
So far, 1,065 bales of straw, which will eventually be covered with a layer of snow, have been used to replace the base of packed snow originally anticipated. Of these bales, approximately 800 were airlifted into place by helicopter to shape and construct snowboard cross and ski cross course features, which will also be covered with a layer of snow.
On Tuesday, FIS officials, responsible for certifying the venue ready for athletes, expressed their approval of snow harvesting and course preparations after an extensive tour of the venue.
"FIS is confident that with the current amount of snow on the mountain, and the snow saving measures that have been taken, VANOC will be able to create a world-class venue for our snowboard events during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games," said Marcel Looze, FIS Snowboard Race Director.
Joe Fitzgerald, FIS Freestyle Coordinator, added: "I was pleased to see the heroic efforts of the Organizing Committee to prepare the snow on the freestyle courses. They have made every effort beyond expectations to create the best conditions."
About Snow Making at Cypress Mountain
Cypress Mountain has a snowmaking reservoir of more than 22.7 million litres of water and the terrain has been shaped to accommodate the construction of freestyle skiing and snowboard event courses with the minimum amount of snow needed.
State-of-the-art snow making using 35 snow guns has been operating around-the-clock since November 2009 and has converted over 95.3 million litres of water to snow needed to construct the courses. This snow has been stockpiled all over the mountain to ensure has been pushed down the mountain by snow grooming machinery to be shaped by machine and by hand to create the freestyle and snowboard courses, including the 60-metre-long superpipe, which is 19.5 m to 20 m wide and 6.5 m high.