The base of Cypress Mountain looks more like a construction site than a ski resort. A number of hearty Canadians are up here this morning, long before the sun has come up. Teams of construction crews are hard at work, building out the setting for what will be the snowboarding and freestyle ski events of the 2010 Winter Games. Tents and fencing, signs and security lines are being set in place. Concession stands will soon be filled with hot dogs, beer and steamy hot chocolate.
But will there be snow?
Vancouver is accustomed to mild winters, but 45 degrees and muggy is probably more than the official organizing committee had bargained for. Cypress Mountain has been closed to the public for weeks now, and snow-making machines have been running on overdrive in an effort to blanket the slopes in white. Deep inside the high-rise offices of those who will put on this show, I imagine there is plenty of sweating going on, and maybe a little yelling. Stress levels are definitely on high alert.
I for one am not concerned. Call me overly optimistic, but my guess is that a freak storm will blow through any day now, dumping buckets of snow onto Cypress. This is the Olympics, after all. The Weather Gods must be watching. And they wouldn't dare leave The Flying Tomato without a soft place to land his gold-medal ride.
Despite the strangely warm weather, the Olympic spirit is starting to creep in. With 10 days until showtime, Vancouver doesn't yet look or feel at all like an Olympic city about to host the Winter Games. But today's tour of the snow-covered venues at Whistler seemed to get everyone in the mood, and the excitement amongst my colleagues is infectious. After a hellish summer at the 2008 Games, I think we are all looking forward to an Olympic experience that will surely be more organized, more manageable... and all around more sane than Beijing. (Really though, anything would be.)
So now, if you could all please return to your snow dance, everyone here in Vancouver would be appreciative. As for me, I have some Weather Gods to pray to.
Whistler is ready!
View from a motorcoach