Cherry trees blossom as Games officials watch for snow
VANCOUVER (CP) — The crocuses are sprouting from the ground and the cherry trees are in blossom, but Olympic organizers are still hoping they might be able to see a snowboarder’s shadow today — Groundhog Day — telling them that winter may yet be on the way in time for the 2010 Winter Games.
Lore says that if the hibernating groundhog emerges today and sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. But the Olympic host city is experiencing an unseasonably warm winter, even for Vancouver.
Matt MacDonald, a meteorologist at Environment Canada, said temperatures in Vancouver itself hit 9C by mid-afternoon Monday. But up at Cypress Mountain, located on the city’s north shore and host of the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events, the mercury was sitting at -1C Monday afternoon and Environment Canada’s website announced it was snowing.
Still, the long-range forecast predicts a “slight warming trend” approaching the Winter Olympics opening ceremonies on Feb. 12, MacDonald said.
“It’s still a long ways out and a lot could change rapidly,” MacDonald said, adding light flurries at Cypress in the coming days should help the mountain architects continue to build runs.
B.C. has few groundhogs but according to the lore east of the Rocky Mountains, if a groundhog sees his shadow on Feb. 2, then there will be six more weeks of winter.
What B.C. does have is the marmot, a furry relation of the groundhog and the inspiration for Muk Muk, the cartoon mascot of the Olympic Games. And those marmots are still in full hibernation and won’t be out to see any shadow. VALENCIA, Spain — Michael Schumacher marked his return to Formula One by setting the third-fastest lap time during a testing session on Monday driving for his new Mercedes GP team.
The former Brawn GP team rolled out its W01 car at Valencia’s Cheste Circuit, with Nico Rosberg kicking off three days of testing by being third quickest before the lunch break.
But seven-time world champion Schumacher, who is back after three years out of the sport, needed 17 laps in the afternoon to beat his teammate’s time before eventually clocking a best lap of one minute 12.947 seconds. That was less than four-tenths of a second off the pace set by his former Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa.
“It was a perfect rollout for the new car today. I felt totally comfortable and really had a feeling that everything was very natural,” Schumacher said. “It felt just like at the very beginning of my career in 1991 when on the first lap, I thought ’wow that was really fast’ and then on the second lap, I was just extremely excited.”
The 41-year-old Schumacher, who was driving for the first time since the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix, said his neck felt “very good” after it had kept him from returning last summer to replace the injured Massa.
“It would have been more of a surprise to me if he hadn’t been where he was today,” team principal Ross Brawn said. “It was just like old days.”
Schumacher said he felt like “a kid with this toy in his hands.”
“I think we have done a very good job,”