Planet Gore

About That Global Warming in Vancouver

Whenever you hear someone blame the rain in Vancouver on global warming, please point them to this New York Times piece on the games and how organizers fretted over these climatic conditions:

WHISTLER, British Columbia — From the moment Vancouver was chosen to host the 2010 Winter Olympics — with the Whistler resort 75 miles to the north named the site of the Alpine events — the ski racing community has been debating how the region’s unpredictable weather might affect the 10-event Alpine competition..

On the eve of the first race, Saturday’s men’s downhill, successive days of fog, rain and sticky soft snow prompted the cancellation of training runs and raised the prospect, or even the likelihood, that the event would be postponed one or two days. Racers weighed tactical or ski wax changes with an eye on a forecast for unsettled weather until Sunday. It rained most of Friday morning and into the afternoon, turning the snow on the race course soft and sometimes slushy. The lowest temperature overnight Friday and through Saturday was expected to be 36 degrees.

At those temperatures, race organizers would have to be concerned that the snow was so soft that ruts would form as each racer carved a path in the same turning spots. Ruts are not uncommon in races like the slalom where the skiers are not at top speed, but ruts would be treacherous and unsafe in a downhill, where the course is designed to be flat and rock hard.

“I think we all knew this could happen; at least anyone who has been here before knew it,” the veteran American downhill skier Marco Sullivan said. “It’s not exactly a surprise. The downhill will go off eventually, and the best skier that day will still win.”

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