What if it rains for two weeks?

Vancouver’s weather situation


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.

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What if it rains for two weeks?

  1. I agree we got the Olympics despite the weather, but for as much rain as Vancouver gets… I have never seen the brown patches of dirt on Grouse during the winter time. The mountains normally look like this in May. Yes it can get slushy and rainy but, as a typical Vancouverite, this extremely unusual.

    Yes having the freestyle on Cypress was a gamble… but this was a decision based on showcasing our city not in the athletes best interests. I'm sure everyone will agree… if the weather cooperates even some, skiing on the north shore mountains is breathtaking.

    • I have seen the local mountains this bare before – on my 11th birthday, Feb 18 1977, my family went up to Grouse Mountain for a birthday lunch at the old Grouse Nest. Afterward we walked around the mountain a bit. There was no snow at all. Not a single patch of snow anywhere!
      It doesn't happen often, but occasionally it does.

  2. Whistler is also suffering from rainy and warm conditions, 3 degrees celsius today with fog and rain. Two days of cancelled training runs, Cypress Bowl isn't the only problem.

  3. Whistler/Blackcomb has two Superpipes, it has freestyle skiing venues, it has a boardercross course and runs for parallel GS. These events should of been in Whistler and it would have been a hell of a lot cheaper then what they're trying to pull off right now in Cypress. You can build a ski hill in Las Vegas if you work hard enough, that doesn't mean it would be ideal place to hold an Olympic competition.

    Cypress is a crapshoot, everyone on the coast knows it, it's super hit and miss and more often then not it's miss. If VANOC truly had the athletes best interests in mind they would have put these events in Whistler. Moguls, GS, freestyle and boardercross will all have snow issues, but what VANOC is not discussing is the halfpipe. I wouldn't expect a largely ignorant media to have any knowledge of snowboarding so here's the basic situation.

    The ideal halfpipe is made of snow that is fast and hard, nearly ice basically. The halfpipe in Cypress right now as described to me from a friend up there as soft, wet and slow. A soft pipe is dangerous to air out of, it increases the likelihood of airing onto the deck. Wet snow is slow snow, which means amplitude is severely limited, which translates into less technical tricks. The difference between a slow and fast pipe is like the difference between 2nd and 4th gear in your car.

    The two biggest contests in snowboarding are held in Vermont and Aspen, both very cold places, with very fast pipes. It's gonna be pretty sad if what is supposed to be the penultimate snowboarding competition is marred by substandard snow which could of easily been avoided.

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