Feb. 6, 2009— -- There's just one week to go before the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, but the biggest sport in town right now is predicting the weather.
It is a twist Olympic organizers never imagined having to deal with in a city famous for its spectacular winter surroundings. But the facts speak for themselves: The city is locked in the grips of its warmest winter since 1937.
"Nagano in 1998, there were real concerns they wouldn't have enough snow and it turned out that they did, but it sure isn't looking like it with the weather forecast in Vancouver," said Christine Brennan, a USA Today columnist and ABC News contributor.
"There's never been anything like this before," she added, "where the snowboarders and freestyle skiers are going to have to deal with manmade conditions."
You don't have to be a weather expert to understand the problem. Going into this weekend, temperatures hovered around a balmy 50 degrees Fahrenheit in Vancouver. And the mountain that has become a central part of the problem, Cypress Mountain, is on the city's outskirts. The snow is so sparse on Cypress Mountain, brown patches are visible.
While many of the grandest downhill competitions will be in places where snow isn't a problem, including the tall peaks of Whistler B.C., Cypress Mountain will hold all of the freestyle skiing and snowboarding competitions. Officials are trying to downplay the effects on competition while acknowledging they've been dealt a pretty rough hand.
"We're actually planning that we will not have snow and that temperatures may not be agreeable where we can make snow," said Cathy Priestner Allinger, vice president of the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee. "We are running the events at Cypress and we have no intention of moving from that venue."
Officials are doing their best to fix the problem by taking on "mother nature" with a massive air and land snow brigade. Dozens of trucks a day are shipping in tons of snow from surrounding mountains across British Columbia.
At the same time, helicopters are dropping in hay bales -- more than a thousand in all -- to shore up the half pipes and other features of what was supposed to be a world-class venue.
Former Olympic snowboarder Ross Rebagliati said the conditions won't be ideal.
"It's a disappointment for sure, there's no question about it. We would love to be able to showcase Vancouver and the Olympics in a snowy winter condition, since it is the winter Olympics," Rebagliati said. "We've got our fingers crossed big time. If we've ever hoped, this is one of the things we've hoped for -- for snow!"
Between now and the opening ceremonies, there is no snow in the forecast. But as the saying goes, "the games must go on" -- even if it doesn't feel much like winter.