S'now Problem: Bringing "Winter" to the Olympics


Why bring the heli to the snow when you can bring the snow to the heli?

What does it take to make the Winter Olympic Games go? Some snow would be nice. Athletes who had the chance to throw down on the 22-foot Olympic-spec superpipe at January's Winter X Games in Aspen might be a bit disappointed when they show up in Vancouver. Plagued with little-to-no snow and rain, Cypress Mountain, the host mountain for next week's Olympic Snowboard Cross and Halfpipe competitions, alongside the Vancouver Olympic Committee, is using hay bales and wood to shore up some of the courses, helicopters to shuttle snow between the resort's peaks and trucks to move in snow from another park several hours to the east.

It was rumored that Cypress was even buying snow from steep-and-deep champs Mt. Baker, a few hours to the southwest in Washington state, but the VOC stated that this was just a rumor. And, given the current exchange rate, probably also not such a good deal.

Which may be why the U.S. Olympic team opted to simply stay put where things are good. Coming in hot off the Winter X Games, where U.S.Team members Shaun White and Gretchen Bleiler took gold, the group of riders posted up at Buttermilk for the rest of their pre-Games practice time.

Anyone who's lived in Vancouver for a winter will tell you the local ski hills are hit or miss, so sticking the Winter Games there and hoping for the best was a bit of a crap shoot. But it also begs the question -- with the threat of global warming very real, will this situation become the norm for the Winter Games in the future? It's hard to say, but this is likely not the ideal that comes to mind when riders think of heli-boarding in Canada.


A stockpile of snow brought in by helicopter waits to be spread at Cypress Mountain Feb. 6. Games organizers had to move 300 truck-loads of snow to two courses on Cypress Mountain, as Vancouver saw its warmest January on record.