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Hey, that's no skier! Wild lynx makes an appearance at Vancouver Olympics downhill skiing course

Lynx WHISTLER, British Columbia — Beware the lynx!

Skiers and lugers heard the call of the wild in the form of a critter apparently oblivious to the safety concerns of officials at Olympic venues.

An orange-and-black spotted lynx sauntered across the downhill course during the men's opening training session Wednesday. Two days earlier, one of his -- her? -- brethren was spotted outside the perimeter of the luge track during afternoon training.

The lynx is a large cat native to North America. And take it from a Canadian -- downhiller Manuel Osborne-Paradis -- the lynx is no cuddly outdoor friend when you're speeding down an icy slope at 70 mph.

"Get out of the way," he said. "Oh, wow. You do not want to get close to that."

The downhill session was already on hold because of fog, and no skiers linked with the lynx. Still, officials issued a warning over the race radio in case someone was on the course. The lynx had its own agenda and hopped over the barriers lining the course and back into the forest.

At the Whistler Sliding Center, luge forerunners were on the track preparing the ice for the Olympians at the time of the sighting. A local conservation officer was summoned, and it was decided there was no reason to stop the action on the course.

John Gibson, venue press manager at the Whistler Sliding Center, offered this reassurance: The creature was not a cougar.

"That was all planned. It's to show people Canadian nature," cracked Mike Kertesz, the International Ski Federation official in charge of the finish area.

Ski racing is no stranger to wildlife. A few years ago at a World Cup downhill in Val Gardena, Italy, a deer loped onto the course and ran next to Italian star Kristian Ghedina for the final part of his run. Ghedina made the deer his personal logo for the rest of his career.

Lynx crashes the Vancouver Olympics

-- Associated Press

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More Olympics news at The Times' Ticket to Vancouver blog.

Top photo: A lynx walks past ski gates near the finish area of the downhill course in Whistler on Feb. 10. Credit: Gero Breloer / Associated Press

Bottom photo: A combination of three photos (just think of it as a flip book minus the pages) of the lynx as it exits the course. Credit: George Frey / European Pressphoto Agency

Comments () | Archives (15)

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Leaps wall banners in a single bound!

Thats not a lynx, thats a bobcat, they made the same mistake on Canada AM. I could tell right away that was not a lynx. Notice the spots.

What ever it is, lynx or bobcat, it's beautiful. What a privilege to get a look at something like that evasive creature.

This is not a Lynx - it is clearly a Bobcat.

What a beautiful site. It helps to put the world in perspective.

Don't be silly, a Bobcat is a Lynx. The territory of the Bobcat (Lynx rufus) and the Canadian Lynx (Lynx canadensis) overlap some along our border with Canada so, this could be either one of those two lynx species or even a hybrid of the two (which is common). Without examining this cat in person, none of us know which it is. However, this guy looks to me like he's been eating at Tim Horton's so, my guess is he's a Canadian.

My Name is Soren and I am a third-grader in Boulder, CO. I am doing a research project about the bobcat. I can tell the difference between the bobcat and the lynx, and this is a bobcat, also known as Lynx rufus. Bobcats are more tan with black spots and lynx are more gray. If it was a lynx it would have more facial hair and bigger paws.

The comment by Soren was typed by his mom, who gave him full permission to participate. Kari

What a great series of this bobcat. That photographer must be psyched. I'd love to get photos of one in the snow.

This is clearly a bobcat (Lynx rufus). I am currently 4 years into my PhD research on bobcats in northwestern Montana, and it is VERY possible to tell bobcat from lynx by appearance. For example, this cat only has black on the topside tip of the tail, whereas the lynx has a completely black tipped tail. You do not need to examine these cats in person as it were to tell the difference; these photos are perfectly good for identification. Also, someone should have examined the tracks of this cat, as there is no mistaking bobcat tracks for lynx tracks.

In response to the post by "That Guy", bobcats and Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) are two separate species in which the geographic distribution of the two overlaps in parts of North America, particularly along the US/Canada border. However, hybridization IS NOT common between these two species. Read here: http://www.rmrs.nau.edu/wildlife/genetics/hybrid.php

A Bobcat is a member of the Lynx Genus as one poster mentioned, but it is easily distinguishable from Lynx Canadensis, which is what most people think of when they think of a Lynx.

I take issue with the assertion that hybrids are common, as they are not; at least in the wild. As far as I know there are only a handful of confirmed hybrids outside of captivity. This hybridization only occurs in nature when there is a shortage of one genus or the other. This is not the case in Whistler BC, where both genera are prevalent.

The only hybrids resulting in the wild that have been sequenced have been deterimined through mitochondrial DNA to be the result of a male bobcat x female lynx. I think there have only been 5 confirmed as of 2005, but it might be more by now.

Like the little kid said...it's a Bobcat.

Looks like a bobcat to me.....

Yeah technically a bobcat is Part of the LYNX family, but you could also call ELK and MOOSE DEER! And be technically correct.


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