By Barry Wigmore
Last updated at 1:55 PM on 23rd January 2010
As spring flowers bloom early and birds start to nest around balmy Vancouver, officials there have chartered a fleet of helicopters to fly in thousands of tons of snow for the Winter Olympics.
Without the emergency snowlift, which is also shipping in tons of snow in convoys of giant lorries, Olympic chiefs feared they might have to abandon the Games that have already cost £1.5 billion and are due to start in three weeks.
Organisers admitted that they seriously underestimated the impact of climate change when they picked the venue at Cypress Mountain, Vancouver, for some of the most popular ski and snowboard events.
With the temperature hovering around 11°C it was too warm to make snow with snow-blower machines so the winter fun resort was closed to the public yesterday while new snow was flown in from mountains 500 miles further north. It was being laid on a straw foundation to reduce the amount of snow needed to make a slalom course and a 22ft diameter pipe for snowboard freestyle events.
Cathy Priestner Allinger, Vancouver’s executive vice president for sport and games operations, said: 'Our team at Cypress Mountain is working around the clock to preserve and protect the snow, and we’re confident that these efforts will pay off. We have all the technology, equipment, people and expertise to deliver the Games.'
Other events are being held at the Whistler winter sports resort which is 100 miles further north and at a much higher elevation in the mountains.
Mr Wallechinsky said: 'The problems in Vancouver beg the question are we going to have to re-think where we put the Winter Olympics because of global warming?'
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