Vancouver dismisses worries over weather

Wed Jan 13, 2010 5:39pm EST
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Vancouver Olympics planners downplayed worries over recent spring-like weather on Wednesday, despite their move to limit public access to a ski venue to preserve snow for next month's Games.

A series of Pacific storms have hit Vancouver with rain and unseasonably warm temperatures in recent days, melting away snow on nearby Cypress Mountain, site of freestyle skiing and snowboard competitions.

Planning for the Olympics has taken into account the possibility of warmer weather in the lead-up to, or during, the more than two weeks of competition that starts February 12, said Vancouver Organizing Committee Vice President Tim Gayda.

"Driving up here in the pouring rain, obviously, doesn't look good, but it is something we have always planned for from the early days," Gayda told a news conference on Cypress that was held indoors because of rain.

Crews on Cypress have been pushing unmelted snow into piles to protect it, and are preparing to bring down snow that has been stockpiled at higher elevations on the mountain where temperatures are colder.

The need to move snow has prompted officials to close down normal public access to the ski facility two weeks earlier than they had expected.

Colder temperatures are expected to return to Canada's Pacific Coast next week, and that will also allow crews to resume snow-making on the mountain, Gayda said.

Cypress has been hit by mid-winter melts before and has been able to rebound quickly, Cypress Mountain spokesman Kent Rideout said.   Continued...

<p>The countdown clock for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games shows one month left before the start in Vancouver, British Columbia January 12, 2010. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>