Cherry trees blos­som as Games of­fi­cials watch for snow

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

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,”

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