VANOC confirms team effort paying off to ready Cypress Mountain for 2010 Olympic Winter Games

First athletes arrive for training February 5

Note to editors: B-roll and photo images of Cypress Mountain shot earlier this week are available by contacting VANOC Communications

VANCOUVER, Jan. 28 /CNW/ - In response to ongoing unseasonably warm weather, an aggressive and intensive effort by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) to implement its contingency plan to ready Cypress Mountain to host competitions at the Games is paying dividends.

Snow moving from higher elevations onto snowboard and freestyle courses will be substantially completed by Friday, January 29. The shaping and grooming of all courses has begun in earnest and snow will continue to be moved to build up existing stockpiles. This strategy is supported by numerous protection measures, such as using tarps and extra snow to build up courses to account for snow melt.

"The plan to stage the freestyle and snowboard events on Cypress Mountain is continuing full steam ahead," said Tim Gayda, VANOC's vice president of sport. "We've made great progress in preparing the venue thanks to our team that's been working night and day to deliver on the contingency plan we had ready. We look forward to hosting some of the world's greatest athletes on Cypress Mountain in just over two weeks."

The venue team has implemented a variety of operational changes to ensure the integrity of all key considerations: the field of play for competition, as well as the television broadcast and live spectator experience.

"Changes to the design of the competition courses necessitate adaptations in other critical areas, including broadcast positions, seating access, technology, sport production, and overlay plans to name just a few. Every team - including those who are dedicated to other mountain venues - is pulling together to make the changes and provide the support that will ensure Cypress Mountain works well in every aspect during the Games," said Dick Vollet, VANOC's vice president of mountain venues.

In mid-January, VANOC and Cypress Mountain management agreed to close the West Vancouver ski resort's alpine runs to the public in order to undertake the significant preparation required to ready the mountain for Olympic competition, especially in light of the unseasonably warm and wet weather.

Since then, a dedicated team of 45 people working 24/7 have used eight snowcats out of a fleet of 24 and two large dump trucks to move more than 300 truckloads of snow from the top of Mount Strachan - where more than three metres of snow remains untouched in the Skychair area - to the field of play on neighbouring Black Mountain. In the case of the of mogul and aerials venue, the steepness of the course requires the snow to be winched up Black Mountain by snowcats.

So far, 1,065 bales of straw, which will eventually be covered with a layer of snow, have been used to replace the base of packed snow originally anticipated. Of these bales, approximately 800 were airlifted into place by helicopter to shape and construct snowboard cross and ski cross course features, which will also be covered with a layer of snow.

On Tuesday, officials with the International Ski Federation (FIS), which is responsible for certifying the venue ready for athletes, expressed their approval of snow harvesting and course preparations after an extensive tour of the venue.

"FIS is confident that with the current amount of snow on the mountain, and the snow saving measures that have been taken, VANOC will be able to create a world-class venue for our snowboard events during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games," said Marcel Looze, the federation's snowboard race director.

Joe Fitzgerald, FIS's freestyle ski coordinator, added: "I was pleased to see the heroic efforts of the Organizing Committee to prepare the snow on the freestyle courses. They have made every effort beyond expectations to create the best conditions."

About Snow Making at Cypress Mountain

Cypress Mountain has a snowmaking reservoir of more than 22.7 million litres of water (five million gallons) and the terrain has been shaped to accommodate the construction of freestyle skiing and snowboard event courses with the minimum amount of snow needed.

State-of-the-art snow making using 35 snow guns has been operating around-the-clock since November 2009 and has converted over 95.3 million litres of water (21 million gallons) to snow needed to construct the courses. This snow has been stockpiled all over the mountain to ensure the terrain at Games time can sustain all weather conditions. It has been pushed down the mountain by snow grooming machinery to be shaped by machine and by hand to create the freestyle and snowboard courses, including the 160-metre-long superpipe, which is 19.5 m to 20 m wide and 6.5 m high.

About VANOC

VANOC is responsible for the planning, organizing, financing and staging of the XXI Olympic Winter Games and the X Paralympic Winter Games in 2010. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games will be staged in Vancouver and Whistler from February 12 to 28, 2010. Vancouver and Whistler will host the Paralympic Winter Games from March 12 to 21, 2010. Visit www.vancouver2010.com.

For further information: Media contact: VANOC Communications, Tel: (604) 403-1611, E-mail: mediarelations@vancouver2010.com