VANOC voids 20,000 tickets to Cypress Mountain events

Cancellations aren't just a revenue hit—they're a body blow to the committee's reputation

It’s snow-go on Cypress Mountain. The Vancouver Organizing Committee has reluctantly cancelled 20,000 standing-room tickets this week for snowboard, halfpipe, ski cross and parallel giant slalom at the weather-cursed mountain site.

“We’ve exhausted all avenues but it just wasn’t possible to make the area safe for spectators,” said Caley Denton, vice president of ticketing and consumer marketing.

The bad news comes after 4,000 tickets were cancelled Monday and Tuesday for snowboard cross—again because rain and warm weather have turned the site into a mess of mud, slush and sodden hay bales. Those who paid extra to plant their bums in temporary stadium seating aren’t affected by the cancellation.

The news is a disaster on several fronts.

Local TV channels have shown pictures of weeping children whose families had traveled to Vancouver for these events, some of the most popular tickets in town. The International Olympic Committee can’t be pleased. It had banked on ski-cross, which makes its debut at these Games, to lend a new, hip image to the Olympics.

As for VANOC, it’s a financial mess. The minimum price for these tickets is $50, with the halfpipe tickets going at $65 a pop. All told, VANOC will take a revenue hit of about $1.4 million in lost ticket revenue alone, and a body blow to its reputation.

Vancouver’s Games continue a “downhill slide from disaster to calamity,” wrote Lawrence Donegan in London’s Guardian newspaper. Just one example of increasingly bad international reviews.

VANOC officials put on their Games faces Tuesday saying they did all humanly possible, but even five years of planning couldn’t contend with Mother Nature. It’s worth noting, too, that the IOC approved those plans every step of the way.

There’s plenty of blame to go around, but it’s not much consolation for 24,000 disappointed fans. Full disclosure here: that group includes my two disappointed sons.