Friday, February 12, 2010
Rain forecast for women's moguls
WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Turns out, the snow -- or lack thereof -- is the least of the problems at Cypress Mountain.
The home of the Olympic snowboarding and freestyle events has plenty of white stuff on the ground after organizers trucked in snow from other parts of the mountain to help make up for an unexpectedly warm winter.
While athletes and coaches have praised the quality of the moguls and snowboardcross courses, the weather could still play a major factor when competition begins Saturday.
Forecasters are calling for heavy rain and possible fog that could delay women's moguls, which kicks off a busy two weeks on the mountain Saturday afternoon.
Judges must be able to see the top off the 800-foot moguls course, which could be problematic if the fogs rolls in. A cold rain fell during training Friday afternoon but the starting gate was visible and competitors had little problem with the conditions.
"Actually, the snow's real nice and soft," said U.S. moguls skier and 2002 Olympic silver medalist Shannon Bahrke. "[It's] easy to carve. No problems out here."
Things were a little dicier at the snowboardcross course just up the mountain. A mix of snow and rain fell while the men and women made their way through the series of difficult twists, turns and jumps for the first time.
Visibility was an issue for U.S. snowboarder and medal contender Nate Holland. His goggles were pretty misty following his final run of the day, and the wet snow led to constantly changing conditions.
"With new snow coming down and the wind, you're making a lot of last-second decisions on course ... but that's what we do," Holland said.
Holland allowed the weather was "less than optimal" but doesn't see it becoming much of a factor regardless of whether it rains or snows when the competition starts on Monday.
"We work in this stuff all the time," Holland said. "Super cold, icy conditions. Rain, fog, it's all part of it."
The athletes were lucky to get in their training runs Friday. A heavy downpour rolled through about two hours after practice was completed.
Organizers have also taken steps to protect the halfpipe course, even covering it with a tarp Thursday night.
U.S. Halfpipe coach Mike Jankowski said the course passed an initial eye test, and he doesn't believe the weather will prevent competitors from putting on a show next week.