snowmaking 

One week before the final decision on the World Cup races is made the man in charge of the snowmaking system said preparations are on schedule. "From the Sewer down to the finish we’ve laid down about 4-5 inches of man-made snow in the last three days," Rod MacLeod said Wednesday afternoon. "We’ve put about 3.5 million gallons of water on the course since we started (three weeks ago), and the plan calls for a minimum of 11 million gallons. "We’ve made some, we lost a bit and we’ve had some natural snow, but we’ve got eight more nights of making snow before Sepp comes." FIS representative Sepp Messner will inspect the Dave Murray Downhill course Nov. 19 and make a decision on whether there is enough snow for the Nov. 29 downhill and Nov. 30 super G. MacLeod said Wednesday the forecast remained promising, calling for clear skies and freezing temperatures through the weekend. A storm in the Pacific had originally been forecast to hit Whistler by Thursday but the storm doesn’t seem to be moving. "We’ve had 23 per cent humidity, which is real dry for this time of year, and that’s helping," MacLeod said. The clear skies this week were producing an inversion on the mountain at night, so MacLeod’s crews were making snow on the bottom part of the course at night and then on the top of the course during the day. Snowcats have been compacting the snow on the top of the course, from the start to the Toilet Bowl. More snow is still needed but Weasel Workers will begin anchoring the safety nets on the top of the course this weekend. The safety nets were suspended several weeks ago but the bottoms have to be anchored in snow. Snowmaking crews are putting about 1 million gallons of water on the course each day now, but with the expanded capacity of the snowmaking system this year there is no concern about running short of water. Crews began drawing water from the new, 11 million gallon reservoir Wednesday afternoon and are now taking water from both reservoirs. The target for minimum snow depth on the course is 18 inches, or 46 centimetres. That will be packed down to 10 inches, or 25 centimetres for the race. A new ammonium nitrate product made in Austria, PTX 311, may be used on the course if the snow becomes very wet. The compound, when mixed with wet snow, draws the moisture out, creating a dense, hard surface ideal for racing. The first forerunner is scheduled to test the track on Tuesday, Nov. 25. The first scheduled training run for the downhill is Nov. 26. Only one training run is required prior to the Nov. 29 downhill race. Meanwhile, preparations for the Hongkong Bank Whistler Ski Classic festival are continuing. The festival kicks off Nov. 27 with a street party in Whistler Village.

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