Vancouver Olympics officials have taken the drastic step of canceling 20,000 more general admission standing room tickets for events at Cypress Mountain.
Unstable and unsafe is how vice president of ticketing Caley Denton described the conditions where standing room spectators would be walking around and watching the snowboard and freestyle skiing events.
He told reporters it's all a result of rain and warm weather. "We've dropped straw and different things underneath the courses and then put snow over top. We started out with a considerable amount of snow that everyone felt really comfortable with. And now on the edges, outside the field of play where we would have spectators standing in large numbers, the snow has washed away to the point where people can punch through and potentially step in between a place where there are two big straw bales, and you know that becomes a pretty deep crack where we've had people going down up to their knees or in some cases even farther," Denton explained.
Denton said it was not worth the risk of injuring spectators. The first two days of standing room tickets totaling 8,000 were canceled Sunday night. With warmer than usual weather continuing, 20,000 more tickets were canceled covering events at Cypress Mountain through next week.
Fans can get refunds for their canceled tickets, which had cost $50 to $65. Denton said the revenue lost will be about $1.5 million, but he emphasized that safety comes first.
Vancouver organizing committee spokeswoman Renee Smith-Valade said those working at the Cypress Mountain venue have done everything they could. "They have been night and day, 24-7 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) for at least three weeks building something out of something that keeps disappearing. The snow, we bring it in and the warm weather comes in and it disappears, and then we brought it in (more snow) and the warm wind (comes) and it disappears, and they have just kept coming back, determined to create a fantastic field of play for those athletes," she said.
When questioned about whether it was a good decision to have Cypress Mountain as an Olympic venue, Smith-Valade said yes. She said that during this very same time period in each of the last three years, conditions at Cypress Mountain were just fine. She added this warm spell has been unfortunate, but you can't control the weather.