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Not Enough Snow For Olympic Slopes

Whose idea was it to call Canada “The Great White North” again? If it’s one thing that Canada has been stereotyped for, it’s being cold and snowy. Now, the cold part can’t be argued…as long as we’re talking about the winter season throughout most of the country, of course. The snowy, on the other hand…well, that’s a different story.

Most non-Canadians associate the nation with vast, white landscapes covered in ice and snow. And with the 2010 Winter Olympic Games fast approaching, fans from all over the world are preparing to watch their countrymen slide down the many snowy slopes offered up by the mountainous hosts of Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia.

However as Stephanie Levitz and Jim Morris report in today’s edition of The Toronto Star, “Winter Games officials have given up on any help from Mother Nature and will now be trucking in snow for the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events at Cypress Mountain, on Vancouver’s North Shore.”

According to Levitz and Morris, the forecast for Canada’s west coast next week doesn’t report any snowfall. This, of course, isn’t exactly welcome news for the area which is set to host a number of skiing events at the 2010 Winter Games. In fact, it apparently will not even be cold enough for organizers to make snow to cover the mountains for the scheduled events.

As the article states, “contingency plans are now being rolled out which include using straw and wood to take the place of snow to build the base for the courses.” Weird, huh? No snow in Canada in the winter time? Who would have ever guessed?

Cathy Priestner Allinger, executive vice-president of sport and Games operations for the organizing committee, known as VANOC believes that there is enough snow on other parts of the mountains that can be moved to the ski slopes to prepare for the skiing competitions. Trucks, snow cats and even helicopters will be used, if necessary, to haul all of the white stuff to its appropriate spots.

Fans shouldn’t be worried says Priestner Allinger. “We are going to create a fantastic field of play and we are just doing it a little differently than we had originally planned,” she was quoted as saying.

Some organizers and athletes are starting to get concerned, however, about the slope and its ability to represent a fair and safe field of competition. Peter Judge, chief executive officer of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association worried that there may be an adverse effect on the athletes.

Said Judge: “If they don’t have the material they can’t build the features (jumps) as big or as radical as maybe they had originally planned. That may have some affect in terms of dumbing the course down a little bit.”

Judge doesn’t believe that the change will tarnish the image of the Games in Vancouver. Let’s hope it doesn’t spoil any of the events. Go Canada! Great White North, indeed.

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