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Opinion

Warm weather causes concern for Olympics

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February 12, 2010

When we think of Canada, we often think of bitter cold weather and snowy conditions. Usually in the winter months that is the case, but one area of Canada is not experiencing the cold temperatures and snowy conditions. In fact, according to an article on espn.com the city of Vancouver has just experienced the warmest January in history, with temperatures hovering in the 40s and 50s for majority of the month.

The Winter Olympics is now upon us for the first time since 2006, when the Olympics were held in Torino, Italy. This year, however, Mother Nature isn’t cooperating very smoothly, making the Vancouver Olympic Committee scramble at the last minute to get ready for the Winter Games.

Olympic organizers have started moving snow from one end of Cypress Mountain to the other, where the competition site is being held. Snow transportation is moving around the clock and helicopters been operating consistently in the daytime hours to get the competition site on Cypress Mountain ready for when the Olympics begin. The only time the trucks and helicopters are not running is when skiers are training.

The Vancouver Olympic Committee might be breathing a slight sigh of relief as temperatures fell into the 30s this week with some snowfall; this should help harden the snow pack and creating more ideal conditions for the skiers. Vancouver may not be out of the woods yet, as the temperatures look to rise back up in the 40s with some rainfall this weekend. Organizers and committee members have to hope the temperatures in the mountain area stay near freezing point so the rain doesn’t melt the little snow they have at the competition site.

This isn’t the first time the Winter Olympics have faced a lack of snow. Startribune. com reports in 1998, the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan saw lack of snow in the months leading up to the Winter Games as well. Only a few events were cancelled as a snow storm swept through during the games. In 1988 in Calgary, Alberta, the bobsled competition was postponed because the ice on the track melted. According to the International Olympic Committee, the 1964 Innsbruck games also faced a lack of snowfall. The Austrian Army had to carve out 20,000 blocks of ice from the mountainside and transport it to the luge and bobsled tracks. Also, they had to carry 1.4 million cubic feet of snow to the Alpine ski slopes.

Derek Johnson is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.