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Weather Services for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

February and March 2010 Final Report

PDF (1.3 Mb)

1.0 Executive Summary

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (hereinafter called “2010 Games”) were held in the Vancouver–Whistler region, from February 12-28 and March 12-21. Games organizers faced a wide variety of weather conditions both prior to and during the Games, nearly all of them challenging to venue preparation and competition. Weather posed a significant risk to the integrity of the competition schedule. By strategically using the weather forecasts provided by the weather team, from scales running from seasonal outlooks to now-casts of an hour or less, organizers were able to take action to ensure that all events were completed successfully.

Planning for the task of providing weather services support to Vancouver 2010 began in 2003 with the collection of weather statistics to support the bid. Once the bid was won, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (VANOC) almost immediately approached Environment Canada’s (EC’s) Pacific and Yukon Region (PYR) to furnish a proposal to provide a comprehensive weather service to the Games.

Bid members had the support of the Government of Canada (GoC), as the GoC was planning to provide integrated services, including weather, in support of Vancouver 2010.

There are historical precedents for the significant involvement of national meteorological agencies in the Olympics. Governmental agencies were fully responsible for weather services to Torino in 2006, partially responsible for Salt Lake City in 2002 and fully responsible for Nagano in 1998. EC provided the complete package of weather services for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, and agreed to provide for 2010 on the basis of the 2010 Games’ significant international and national prominence, and in the interests of public safety and security. VANOC agreed with the concept that weather services strictly provided for their sport and related needs would be fully cost-recovered. 

There were two main clients for weather services during the 2010 Games: agencies, in particular federal and provincial governmental agencies that were responsible for ubiquitous needs like policing, security and transportation; and VANOC, responsible for sporting and venues. Much of the effort needed to meet the broad meteorological requirements of the community of agencies responsible for delivering the Games in a safe and efficient manner aided in meeting the overall needs of VANOC.

Weather services support for the 2010 Games consisted of three distinct phases: the pre-Olympic-period planning that began in 2004 and carried on to the end of 2006; a program development and implementation phase that ran from 2006 through to 2009; and the 2010 Games themselves.

Phase I was mainly concerned with the planning of the program to provide services, including developing a clear sense of requirements, obtaining the necessary resources to deliver, installing a number of weather observing systems in the venues and throughout the Olympic area, and initiating the recruitment of team forecasters. Venue forecasting offices were planned for each outdoor venue, including offices at the Whistler Sliding Centre; Whistler Creekside, the home of the alpine events; Whistler Olympic Park’s ski jump and a separate office for the Nordic and Biathlon events; and at Cypress Mountain, the home of Freestyle, Snowboard and Ski-cross.

In Phase II the focus was on meeting a variety of forecaster training objectives, initiating a research and development program to operate in tandem with the forecast program, and finalizing the Games observing network.

Phase III was both the apex and the conclusion of the program. Comprehensive, accurate and well-used Games-time weather services were provided to a large number of clients and partners including VANOC, federal and provincial agencies, visitors and the public.

1.0 Executive Summary
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