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Winter Games about to spring into action

February 3, 2010 |  3:05 pm
A friend from the East Coast who had read the weather report for Vancouver, Canada, just called and asked whether he should pack a Hawaiian shirt for his trip to the Winter Olympics.

I told him to pack two.


There's a bit of hyperbole in that, of course, but the last thing one feels after arriving in the host city of the Winter Games that open Feb. 12 is winter.

It's spring here, with temperatures in the high 40s heading for the low 50s, and it's also warm and rainy (about 40 degrees) at Whistler, where the alpine and sledding events are to be held.

The 10-day forecasts foresee little change, which could mean poor snow conditions, especially on mountains where the alpine ski courses start at only a mile high. It could also mean fog, which means delays, which means a nightmare for broadcasters.

Everyone knew that was the risk of having the Winter Olympics in this gloriously beautiful city because of its ocean-tempered climate.

But no one expected it to reach this point; as the Vancouver Province newspaper wrote Wednesday, "When organizers promised a 'green' Olympics, this isn't quite what they had in mind.''

The reference was to the color of the ground on the mountains just north of the city, where freestyle and snowboard are to take place. All green; no white stuff, except what is being trucked in, only to melt in sun, fog and rain.

Maybe that's why I find myself humming, "April in Paris.''

-- Philip Hersh in Vancouver

Photo: One of the trucks hauling snow to the freestyle and snowboard venue just north of Vancouver. Much of the snow on the side has melted since this Jan. 28 picture. Credit: Jonathan Hayward / Associated Press