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Olympic mountain closes runs due to heavy rain

January 11, 2010

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VANCOUVER—The ski resort that will host freestyle and snowboarding events at the Vancouver Games is closed because of rain and warm temperatures.

The closure renews concerns about the mild climate during next month's Olympics.

Soft snow conditions bordering on dangerous forced the cancellation of a men's and women's World Cup parallel giant slalom last winter.

But Tim Gayda, vice president of sport for the Vancouver Olympic Games Organizing Committee, said both artificial and natural snow has been stockpiled.

"In terms of having enough snow, even if this weather stayed around, we do have it," Gayda said. "Right now we are very confident in the pack we have, that we will be able to produce a great field of play."

Since November, VANOC has been using state-of-the-art equipment to millions of gallons of water into snow, which has been stockpiled at the Olympic venue and surrounding mountains.

Natural snow also has been pushed into massive piles and left for later use.

"In doing that, it insulates the snow from the weather systems like we are getting now," Gayda said.

The government also is providing $9 million in weather forecasting services during the Olympics, including an extensive network of weather stations and wind monitors.

Cypress Mountain spokesman Kent Rideout said warm temperatures and rain have caused some snow to melting off the mountain located on Vancouver's north shore.

"I don't think it's a panic situation but certainly both the mountain and VANOC are looking at this closely," Rideout said.

He said there's about 6.5 feet of man-made snow covering the areas which will be used during the Olympics.

"The venues still look to be in very good shape right now," Rideout said. "They will return to making snow again as soon as the temperatures come back down."