Cypress Mountain — Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard Venue

Ensuring slope stability and protecting against soil erosion
This project will include the following facilities in legacy mode (post-Games use):

  • snowboard
  • freestyle skiing
  • snowmaking: reservoir, pump houses, pipelines, stations
  • Baden Powell recreational trail (rerouted)

Some permanent infrastructure will be required for the Games and to support the long-term operation of the facility, including:

  • regrading of the parallel giant slalom snowboard course
  • new in-ground snowboard halfpipe
  • additional lighting for evening events
  • snowmaking system including a water reservoir
  • new freestyle skiing facility for aerial and moguls
  • rerouting of the Baden Powell recreational trail


Choosing Cypress Mountain as a Venue

The Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation evaluated Whistler Blackcomb, Grouse Mountain, Seymour Mountain and Cypress Provincial Park as potential locations for the freestyle skiing and snowboard venue. It was not considered viable to develop a wholly new ski area as an alternative.

Criteria used in selecting the site included: availability, accessibility, suitability, proximity, snowmaking capabilities, existing infrastructure and the ability to leave legacy facilities. The Cypress Mountain ski area fulfilled the requirements. Locating this venue at the Cypress Mountain ski area also reduced the transportation needs and issues associated with locating these events at Whistler.

Cypress Mountain was subject to Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) screening review which was approved by the Ministry of Canadian Heritage under the CEAA on May 9, 2006. Cypress Mountain was also subject to a provincial environmental impact assessment under BC Parks.

Design Consultation

Wetland vegetation relocation project
Since August 2005, VANOC has initiated a public consultation process with local stakeholders, including First Nations, regarding the Cypress Venue development. At public information sessions, VANOC provided an overview of the venue concept, progress on the project to date and descriptions of the environmental assessment review process, BC Parks Impact Assessment process, CEAA screening, as well as First Nations consultations.

Meetings were held with First Nations and other stakeholders (for example, a non-government organization called Friends of Cypress Provincial Park Society) to further discuss the venue designs and options to reduce environmental effects. Major concerns that were expressed by the public included the effects to:

  • old growth forest
  • park use regarding public enjoyment and safety
  • the park’s biodiversity
  • access to the top of Black Mountain

Based on concerns raised by the public, VANOC explored several other venue design options within Cypress Mountain ski area. In keeping with its sustainability principles, VANOC committed to addressing the public concerns and minimizing the effects to the environment.

There were a number of venue design changes resulting from this consultation. These changes include:

  • All events are now on Black Mountain located within Cypress Provincial Park.
  • The design and location of the snow making reservoir changed to an in-ground reservoir at the old gravel pit.
  • The freestyle skiing events will use the new Black Mountain chairlift.
  • The snowboard halfpipe moved to an area that required less earth work, avoiding impacts to old growth forest.
  • The length of the parallel giant slalom course was shortened, reducing impacts to old growth forest.
  • Overall parking was not reduced.
  • The Baden Powell trail was rerouted in a timely manner ensuring park users were able to access the top of Black Mountain during the construction period.

These design changes not only reduced financial costs to the project but also reduced the environmental effects associated with the venue development.

Environmental Legacy

In order to complete the work on the new snowmaking reservoir, in July 2007 volunteers relocated 12 “locally significant” plant species from the site. While an excavator was used to dig up large swaths of earth, a number of plants in sensitive or hard-to-reach areas had to be moved by hand. Earlier, a local water current was rerouted so that the plants would have enough moisture to survive.

Volunteers came from VANOC, the Friends of Cypress, BC Parks, Cypress Bowl Recreations Ltd (CBRL) and environmental consultants. North Construction donated manpower and equipment time.

“We talk about the environment and do a lot of planning to protect it, but we don’t normally get our hands in it too much,” said Ian Ponsford, who works in environmental approvals and management at VANOC. “There’s a certain satisfaction that comes when you get out there in nature and make a difference.”

The plants — including species such as the common butterwort and three leafed goldthread — are not rare, but are not usually found in environments such as the reservoir site.

The project broke ground in more ways than one. Little is known about relocating plants in a sub-alpine environment, and specialists hoped to learn more through observing the plants. As extra insurance, 20 per cent of the plant samples were taken to the nursery of Frank Skelton, a leading expert in native wetland plants.

“This is partnership at work,” said Dan Doyle, VANOC executive vice president, construction. “One of the things that we want to do with our Olympic venues is to be a friend to the environment and produce sustainable venues and this is another example of that.”

Post-Games Use

Cypress Bowl Recreations Ltd (CBRL) will retain ownership of the facility after the Games.

The proposed freestyle and snowboard sites at Cypress will enhance the area by creating more terrain suited to skiing and snowboarding and providing CBRL with a permanent snowmaking facility, while minimizing effects to the environmental setting.

The mogul course will become one of the ski area’s premier mogul runs in addition to being available for the Freestyle Ski Club training and competition venue.

The aerial jump site will become a training venue for the Freestyle Ski Club and can be used for new forms of freestyle skiing and snowboard events such as “big air” competitions. Both sites will be able to host future Canadian Series, NorAms and World Cup freestyle competitions.

Visit the Cypress Mountain venue page for more information about the competition details of this venue.

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