Let’s be honest, Vancouver doesn’t really have winter. Even light snowfalls paralyze the place. It rains all the time. So the international hand-wringing about the city’s warmest January on record should be put in proper context: they won the Olympics despite—not because of—the weather.
And really, the only problem spot is Cypress Mountain on the North Shore, site of the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events. Whistler has been under a heavy blanket of the white stuff since early December, and 10 more metres of it fell this past month. All of the sports in the city—speed skating, hockey, curling, figure skating—will be held indoors, on artificial rinks.
Games organizers hoped for Mother Nature’s help on the slopes just outside of town, but have hardly been taken by surprise by the thaw.
Cypress was closed to the public on Jan. 13—two weeks ahead of schedule—in an effort to preserve the courses. When things continued to melt, they moved to plan B: putting down straw bales, then layering on tonnes of snow pushed and trucked down from higher elevations. The spectators might have to wade through the muck in the parking lots, but for the TV cameras the mountain will look like a winter wonderland.