The Toronto Observer

Winter Games

Poor skiing conditions nothing new to Whistler

By Matthew Flowers | Posted: Feb 14 2010 6:49 pm

Vancouver’s lucky to have only been hit by rain.

The last time Olympic alpine skiing took such a hit from the weather came in the 1998 Winter Games, when a mild earthquake registering 5.0 on the Richter scale put a hold on the events at Mount Yakebitai. In addition to the quake, a combination of rain and snowstorms ended up delaying the alpine events by five days.

Ski officials at Whistler are hoping for some snowstorms, or any amount of the white stuff, to get the mountain in quality ski-racing shape. The race courses have been hit hard by rainfall, a sight not too uncommon in Whistler.

The mountain was a staple on the World Cup circuit since it opened for skiing in the 1960’s, but poor weather conditions in the 1990’s forced the  International Ski Federation (FIS) to take it entirely out of international competition. After three consecutive years of cancelling World Cup events from 1996-1998, Whistler was taken out of the circuit and wasn’t welcomed back until 2008.

Fast forward to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, FIS is having to deal with the men’s downhill postponed from Saturday, Feb. 13 to day four of the Games on Monday. The ladies super combined event is in even worse condition as training runs have yet to be completed, prompting officials to move the events from Sunday to Thursday, Feb. 18. All skiers must have at least one training run in order to compete.

Adding to the list of postponements is the worry over the ladies downhill, as training runs could not be completed on schedule, putting Wednesday’s event in question.

Gunter Hujura, FIS men’s alpine skiing chief race director, said he had over 200 volunteers working day and night trying to get the mountain in shape, but now it’s out of their hands.

“Now we can’t do anything, we have to wait” said Hujura to CTV. “We will bring them [volunteers] off the courses and wait until the snow has fallen. Our concern is to have the best conditions.”

Good news is on the way, however. The forecast is calling for cooler conditions, and ski officials can only hope the temperature drop will harden the mushy slopes quickly.

Whistler isn’t the only place dampened by Mother Nature at these Olympics.

Cypress Mountain has seen its share of rain, but fog has been the major concern. However, while there was some poor visibility for the ladies moguls finals on Saturday, it proved to not have a major effect on the event.

Even indoor events cannot escape the grasp of an unexpectedly warm winter season. Halfway through the Ladies 3000 metre speed skating medal round on Sunday, competition was put on hold as ice began to melt and got slushy, causing a delay as ice officials worked quickly to get the rink back in shape.

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By: Matthew Flowers
Posted: Feb 14 2010 6:49 pm
Filed in: Winter Games
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