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4,000 miss out on snowboard cross because of rain

By Steve Almasy, CNN
Warm weather and rain have caused snow to melt at an Olympic venue in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Warm weather and rain have caused snow to melt at an Olympic venue in Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • General admission area unsafe because of heavy rain
  • About 40 percent of tickets sold to be refunded
  • Warm weather and rain have affected other events
  • Winter Olympics
  • Vancouver
  • Weather

Vancouver, British Columbia (CNN) -- When the men's snowboard cross final took place Monday afternoon, there were 4,000 fewer fans than officials had planned.

The Vancouver Organizing Committee said the general admission standing-room-only area is unsafe for spectators because of heavy rain in the West Vancouver area.

"The rain washed away approximately a foot of snow at the bottom of the course where spectators would have been standing," said Dave Cobb, VANOC deputy chief executive officer. He said refunds would be given ($50 Canadian each) for people who had tickets for the men's race, and also for the women's race, which is scheduled for Tuesday. The number of refunds amounted to about 40 percent of the tickets sold for the events, he said.

Rain and warm weather have been issues for more than a month here, but organizers have said repeatedly that the weather will not affect the competitions on Cypress Mountain.

"They are in excellent shape," Cobb said. "We have no concerns about the course quality as a result of the rain over the last few days."

Cobb said there are half as many standing-room tickets at the half pipe venue and they are still considering where they can put fans. Grandstand seating will not be affected, he said.

The option of trucking in more snow for the snowboard course has been ruled out. There are too many training events and other activity on the mountain, Cobb said. Snow at the top of the mountain can be pushed down, but that is being held in reserve because six other events will take place over the course of 12 days.

While the forecast calls for sunny, warm days for most of the next week, there's just no telling when rain might pop up again.

Officials seem perplexed by the weather.

"It has been a banner year for snow at Cypress for the past three years," said Renee Smith-Valade, a spokeswoman for VANOC. "But it is what it is. We have the weather that we have. It's been drawing on all the creativity, ingenuity and good leadership that our team can find up there."

Vancouver, with an average daily temperature of 40.6 degrees, is the warmest city to host the Winter Games. The temperature on Cypress usually hovers around freezing, but it has been in the mid-30s much of the past week, with several days of rain.

Other Olympics have dealt with weather issues. In 1988, Calgary, Alberta, had 33 delays because of extremely high winds and temperatures as high as 54 degrees. In 1928, during the 50-kilometer cross-country ski race in St. Moritz, Switzerland, the temperature reportedly rose from 32 to 77. There were also delays to the Alpine skiing events at the Olympics in Nagano, Japan, and Torino, Italy.

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