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No safe place to stand, watch at Cypress Mountain

Posted: February 16, 2010 1:39 p.m.
Updated: February 16, 2010 1:30 p.m.

Stephanie Walker, right sits in the grandstand in the fog prior to the women's snowboard cross on Cypress Mountain at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010.

WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - The roughly 20,000 fans who bought tickets to stand and watch the remaining events on Cypress Mountain are out of luck.

Vancouver Olympics officials announced Tuesday that wet, warm weather washed away almost a foot of snow in the general-admission, standing-room area, leaving it too dangerous to stand, and there's not enough snow to build it back up. So they're shutting down the viewing area and refunding the $48 to $62 tickets sold for the snowboarding halfpipe, skicross and snowboard parallel giant slalom.

The announcement wasn't much of a surprise. The same thing already had been done for the 8,000 tickets sold for snowboardcross events held Monday and Tuesday.

All told, the 28,000 tickets to be refunded will cost organizers around $1.44 million, which is a negligible portion of their $249 million ticketing revenue.

"Our senior management and venue team have spent significant time on site to try and find a way to accommodate spectators in the standing room areas for the events," said Caley Denton, vice president of ticketing and consumer marketing for Vancouver Olympics organizer. "We've exhausted all avenues, but it just wasn't possible to make the area safe for spectators."

Denton said the problematic spectator zone included areas where straw had been placed on the ground, then covered with snow that has now become unsafe.

"The snow is washed way to the point where people can punch through and potentially step in a place where there's two big straw bales," he said. "We've had people going down to their knees."

The grandstand at Cypress will continue to accommodate spectators as planned, Denton said.

The ticket cancellations are the latest in a series of logistical problems encountered by the Vancouver organizers. However, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said there was a precedent at Nagano in 1998 with large-scale cancellations.



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