Rain cancels 8,000 snowboard cross tickets

More warm, wet weather has forced Olympic organizers to cancel thousands of general admission tickets to Monday and Tuesday's snowboard cross events at Cypress Mountain.
Lindsey Jacobellis takes on air during last year's World Cup women's snowboard cross event at Cypress Mountain. ((Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press))

More warm, wet weather has forced Olympic organizers to cancel thousands of general admission tickets to Monday and Tuesday's snowboard cross events at Cypress Mountain.

The cancellation means the holders of about 8,000 general admission tickets priced at $50 each will get refunds. It doesn't affect anyone with $125 grandstand seats or tickets to the freestyle skiing aerial events at Cypress later in the week, or any alpine events at Whistler.

VANOC said heavy rains over the weekend washed away almost a foot of snow, making the standing-room area at the Cypress snowboard venue unsafe for spectators. With the events starting in less than 24 hours, there is insufficient time and snow to build the standing-room area back up.

The affected events:

Monday, Feb. 15 — Men's snowboard cross (SB001): 10:30 a.m. PT and 2 p.m. Price category B only.

Tuesday, Feb.16 — Ladies' snowboard cross (SB002): 10 a.m. PT and 12:15 p.m. Price category B only.

The general admission area was built on bales of hay with snow on top, and the warm weather has caused the snow to melt, leaving staff working in the area reportedly sinking up their knees and hips in the mushy mess.

Fans disappointed

The news came as huge disappointment to hundreds of fans who showed up for Olympic buses at North Vancouver's Lonsdale Quay on Monday morning, only to be turned away. 

Marc Cadieux, who travelled from Winnipeg to see the Olympics, blamed poor planning for the cancellation.

"It rains here all the time, and they probably should have expected to get rain. They should have thought ahead," he said. 

Todd Wyant travelled from Tennessee to see several of his friends compete, and was not consoled by VANOC's offer to help him buy tickets to speed skating and luge instead.

"That's good, but like I say, they are not your friends, not your family and people that you know, and I think that's what becomes real frustrating," he said. "You just wonder why people don't plan for these things."

VANOC officials had to turn hundreds of people away from the snowboard cross event on Monday morning. ((CBC))

Others were more philosophical about their misfortune.

"It's disappointing, but it's weather and you can't really control that," said one visitor from Australia after learning the news.

Caley Denton, vice-president of ticketing with VANOC, said he understands people will be disappointed with the news, adding that all standing-room ticket holders will get refunds.

"We're extremely disappointed as well, and we appreciate their patience and hope they understand that our venue team has worked as hard as they possibly could to make it possible, but we really felt in the end there is too much safety risk there," said Denton.

More cancellations possible

Despite conditions, VANOC said it has enough snow to continue to stage the actual events at the rain-plagued Cypress Mountain Resort, located just northwest of Vancouver. Before the Games had even started, organizers were forced to use trucks and helicopters to bring in hay bales and snow to build up the course after unseasonably warm wet weather washed snow from the slopes.

More than 1,065 bales of straw and several hundred truckloads of snow were used to prepare the venue at Cypress Mountain. ((Kim Stallknech/Getty Images))

It is not yet clear if VANOC will be forced to cancel tickets for other upcoming events at Cypress, including general admission tickets for the snowboard half-pipe on Feb. 17 and 18, ski cross on Feb. 21 and 23, and snowboard parallel giant slalom on Feb. 26 and 27.

VANOC said it will advise the public about those tickets as soon as information is available.

On Sunday evening, freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau won Canada's first-ever gold medal on Canadian soil at Cypress in the men's moguls before a screaming crowd of thousands. On Saturday, Jennifer Heil won Canada's first medal at the Vancouver Olympics when she took silver in the women's event.