Cypress Mountain, venue for three freestyle and three snowboard events for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, has closed the alpine ski area to the public two weeks earlier than planned to conserve snow cover for the Games.

Cypress had planned to close to the public Feb. 1 and reopen March 8.

The reason for the earlier shutdown: unseasonably warm and wet weather in the Vancouver area.

It's raining there again today.

Cypress released this statement: "To preserve and protect the integrity of the Snowboarding and Freestyle Skiing courses at Cypress Mountain for the 2010 Winter Games, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games (VANOC) and Cypress Mountain have agreed to close the alpine ski area to the public.

"This difficult decision to close the alpine area to the public two and a half weeks earlier than planned follows days of unseasonably warm and wet weather in the Vancouver area.  The course-building crews are now actively working to preserve snow on ski trails which could be needed to supplement the snow on the courses.

"We appreciate the support and understanding of all our regular skiers and riders in making this decision in support of VANOC's commitment to the successful staging of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

"We will be providing additional information over the coming days to season pass holders and others affected by the closure.  We plan to re-open as scheduled on March 9 with as much terrain as possible for the spring session and we hope to then be basking in the sun and the glow of home team gold medals."

The earlier closing involves payment of compensation by VANOC to Cypress, and a discussion of compensation by Cypress to season pass holders. Adult season passes, normally $1,000, cost $259 this year because of the loss of five weeks of prime skiing and snowboarding.

Stay tuned.