Vanoc brings out big guns to ready Cypress
Olympic officials are bringing in the big guns in a desperate bid to help prepare the snow-challenged Cypress Mountain ahead of the rapidly approaching 2010 Games.
On Wednesday, Vanoc officials enlisted the world's second largest helicopter -- the Sikorsky S64 Skycrane -- to help harvest snow from upper reaches of the mountain and drop it onto the snowboard and freestyle skiing courses.
The machine is normally used to pluck felled trees from forests. At a cost of at least $10,000 an hour, it's another expensive day in the scramble to get ready for the Games.
Two days ago, organizers began trucking in snow to Cypress from Manning Park -- almost 260 kilometres away.
"They want as pure as snow as possible and that's where these trucks are taking it. Yesterday there was 34. Today there's I guess 44," Barry Platt of Emil Anderson Maintenance told CTV News.
Once complete, 150 truckloads of snow will have been transported to Cypress at an estimated cost of $150,000.
Since last week, other helicopters have been airlifting straw bales to build up the courses.
Vanoc says all the expenses are being covered by its contingency fund.
"What we're doing here is only one out of our nine competition venues so largely the contingency was always put aside to deal with it and this is something we're working on," Vanoc's Tim Gayda said.
But the choppers and trucks are not only costing money, they're having an impact on Vanoc's climate protection initiatives.
In a report released Wednesday, the David Suzuki Foundation gave the 2010 Games a bronze medal in its effort to reduce the event's climate impact.
"We are calculating it and in terms of the overall impact on our carbon emissions. It's probably going to be less than one percent. But we'll see," Dr. David Suzuki said.
Suzuki said the lack of snow on Cypress is a graphic illustration of the global warming trend.
"I've watched in horror as the snow has just melted away from Cypress Mountain and it's even more horrifying to me to think of helicopters airlifting snow from Manning Park to fill it back up again."
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Mike Killeen