Ski resort closes early to protect courses
Warm and wet weather on B.C.'s south coast has prompted the early closure of West Vancouver's Cypress Mountain in order to prepare for the upcoming 2010 Games.
The early shutdown, a joint decision by the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee -- Vanoc -- and Cypress management, was made to preserve and protect the condition of the courses.
The resort will host snowboard and freestyle ski competitions during the Olympics. It was slated to close Feb. 1 for last minute construction and course preparation.
The decision to close two-and-a-half weeks early follows almost three days of heavy rains and high winds on B.C.'s North Shore.
Mountain spokesperson Kent Rideout said course building crews are already actively working to preserve existing snow on trails which could be needed to supplement snow on the courses.
"The weather has impacted the snowpack so we think that it is the right decision," he told ctvbc.ca.
"The Games are a priority for everyone in Vancouver and we've been working with Vanoc right along. There are a lot of contingency plans in place and this was one of them."
With temperatures expected to drop by the end of the week, Vanoc will soon resume snowmaking and stockpiling snow, he added.
"Over the next three weeks the snow will be pushed down the mountain by snow grooming machinery where it will be shaped by machine and by hand to create the freestyle and snowboard courses," the committee said in a statement.
Despite the Alpine shutdown, the Nordic area at Cypress will remain open until Feb. 1, including cross-country trails, snow tubing and snowshoe trails.
"We're still pleasantly surprised about how many people are coming out and enjoying the mountain," Rideout said.
Rideout said they will examine possible incentives for pass holders at the end of the season because of the early shutdown.
Cypress season passes are roughly one-third of the regular price for the 2009/2010 season because of the Olympic impact. The resort opened two weeks ahead of schedule in November because of early snowfalls.
Thirty-six of 39 Alpine runs on North Vancouver's Seymour Mountain reopened Wednesday morning after two days of closures. The SnowTube park remains closed.
Diana Mah told ctvbc.ca the rain has eased on the mountain and they are not expecting any other shutdowns in the near future.
"The weather just changes so quickly, and we're prepared," she said.
Grouse Mountain is also open, however, some runs remain closed.
Environment Canada forecasts flurries to dust B.C.'s south coast mountains on Thursday, when a significant frontal system is expected to bring precipitation and lower freezing levels for much of the area.