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When Shaun White spent thousands of hours preparing for his bid for the gold in Vancouver, chances are he didn’t spend a single minute snowboarding on hay or wood. Unfortunately, that may be what Shaun ends up competing on come February.
Cypress Mountain, the venue for six skiing and snowboarding events in Vancouver next month, doesn’t have enough snow. There is not a flake in the forecast, and temperatures are above freezing, which means manmade snow isn’t even an option. Olympic organizers are forced to go to plan C, which involves building the crisp curves of the half-pipe out of wooden forms and bales of hay, and then covering it with a layer of snow brought in by truck and helicopter from higher altitudes.
Cypress is 90 minutes south of Whistler, the venue for some of the other various outdoor Olympic competitions. Whistler has plenty of snow and chilly temperatures for the events to be held there. Cypress, located at a lower alititude, has not been so fortunate. Organizers insist, however, that well-laid plans are in place to ensure that all the events will go on without a hitch. Athletes and coaches are not worried about where the snow comes from or how the courses are crafted, as long as the snow is hard packed on the take-off and soft on the landing.