2010 Olympics: No Snow Means Challenge for Winter Athletes

Before her gold medal-winning run, a rock cut a hole into Hannah Kearney's ski.

Feb. 15, 2010— -- The run at Cyprus Mountain looks like it's layered with snow, moguls carved into the base. But looks are deceiving, especially if you're coming down that hill.

U.S. skier Hannah Kearney made a startling discovery on her high stakes run, the gold medal hanging in the balance.

"I heard a crunch," Kearney said, "and you can feel it grab the bottom of my ski. A simple hole in the bottom of your ski, that can never be good."

The crunch she felt was one of the rocks cutting through the melting snow. The hole punched through just as she was skiing to the starting line. That's how sparse the snow was.

"I didn't look, and I didn't tell anyone," Kearney said, because she knew the final run was coming.

She would ski down the mountain on that damaged ski and win the gold anyway.

While it might look like there's plenty of snow for the Olympians to work with, the reality is far different -- grass and mud everywhere you look. The problem is so bad, organizers have had to truck in the snow. They scoop it up from one mountaintop and replace the lost snowpack with bales of hay.

Making snow isn't even possible, because the Vancouver area had the warmest January on record, and the rain that's fallen 10 of the last 14 days makes the problem even worse. Some are now dubbing it the "Spring Olympics."

The adverse weather conditions in Vancouver are testing many of the athletes.

Snowboarders who began competing today have called the conditions "horrible." Eight-thousand spectators were told they can't watch from the sidelines of the course, for fear they would sink to their knees in mud.

Comedian Stephen Colbert quipped, "On future winter Olympic host city applications, you might want to add the question, 'Does it snow there?'"

For Vancouver during these games, the answer is unfortunately no.