Olympic snow still in short supply at Cypress

Olympic organizers have now shortened training, stepped up trucking of snow, and even turned to adding dry ice to the mix to make sure the venue is ready for the start of the Games.

With the Winter Games in Vancouver only a few days away, a continued topic of conversation among Olympic watchers remains the snow, or lack thereof, at Cypress Mountain.

Although Whistler, home to most of the skiing events, has plenty of the white powder, organizers have been scrambling to get Cypress Mountain ready to host events such as moguls and snowboarding. The enemy has been an unusually warm winter, combined with rain that has further eroded the snow at lower elevations at the venue.

In addition to continuing to shuttle in snow via trucks and helicopters, event planners have now shortened the amount of training time and added in dry ice to ensure that the courses, now built, remain ready to handle competition.

Organizers had already been using straw to replace snow for some of the bulk needed to construct the ski cross and snowboard cross events.

"We are still in the snow production business," said Tim Gayda, vice president of sport for the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee, in a briefing with reporters this week. However, he added that the competition spots themselves were in good shape, with efforts now focused on ensuring there is enough snow at places like the ski lifts and other areas needed for logistical purposes.

Some training and warm-ups have been delayed or moved to Whistler to help ease the burden on Cypress. Moguls training at Cypress began on Monday, although reporters are not being allowed in to the site until Tuesday.

"We do not have anything to hide," Gayda told reporters earlier this week, adding that he was eager for them to get a chance to see the competition venue for themselves.

Meanwhile Arena Snowparks, which is helping construct the snowboarding half-pipe, said earlier this week that construction was nearly finished, quipping that the facility was also "98 percent straw free."

If organizers get truly desperate, one filmmaker has another suggestion. Lynne Kamm, the creator of "Spring," a film showing at the cultural festival that accompanies the Games, joked in a blog that maybe the folks at Cypress should take a cue from her film's protagonist.

"Our hero creates snowy slopes by using ice cream and the power of her imagination...maybe gelato could be a cheaper and greener solution for Vanoc," said Lynne Kamm, the writer and director of "Spring."

In any case, the first event at Cypress, women's moguls, is scheduled to take place on Saturday.

This is one of a series of stories looking at the technology that goes into the Winter Olympic Games. CNET's Ina Fried is covering that topic from various angles and will be in Vancouver for the Games, which start February 12.

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    During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried has changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley. These days, most of her attention is focused on Microsoft. E-mail Ina.

     

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