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Vancouver weather worries

Five-time Olympian Mark Grimmette to carry flag

VANCOUVER — Weather worries for the host city of the 2010 Games preceded the opening ceremonies and the first practice sessions this week.

Many residents knew the traditionally wet winters with mild temperatures might cause some problems during the Games. Friday morning on a local television show, Vancouver singer Bodhi Jones performed a song expressing some of that fear and a hope that winter might be a little drier, a little cooler.

"Hey, El Nino, Let it snow," he sang. "We spent a lot of money; we want a big show. ... Canada is going for the Gold; Canada might need a little more snow."

Then he expresses the fear that was realized as rain was forecast for at least the first three days of competition.

"What if it rains? Oh, no, What if it rains, throughout the Olympic Games? Could you make it colder? Could you make it colder? Could you make it colder?"

Apparently not.

Rain was forecast Friday afternoon, with a short break Saturday morning before it began again in the afternoon. With alpine and mogul ski events scheduled for Saturday, there were concerns expressed by just about everybody except the athletes.

U.S. Freestyle head coach Jeff Wintersteen said the mogul course at Cypress looked perfect. He thought a lot of the speculation might die down if the media was allowed to inspect the course.

The U.S. men's mogul skiers trained on the hill Thursday and the reports were positive despite the rain and wind.

"Conditions are actually really good," said 2009 World Champion Patrick Deneen, of Washington. "We're dealing with some tough weather with all the rain, but the skiing is really good. The course is holding together really well. The Vancouver Olympic Committee did a really good job with this venue."

Park City's Nate Roberts said weather wasn't an issue for him.

"You've got to adjust to it and have a good attitude," he said. "I got out there thinking I had a real short plan of getting my jumps dialed in and getting out there and staying fresh."

Thursday night's rainstorm and Friday's predicted fog and rain did postpone a women's downhill practice. It was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. but was moved to 1 p.m. Friday. The men's practice was canceled.

Thursday afternoon it was announced that five-time Olympian Mark Grimmette, who competes in luge doubles with Brian Martin, will carry the U.S. flag in opening ceremonies.

He was told by his teammate, Brian Martin.

"I was very surprised," said the soft-spoken Grimmette, who already owns bronze and silver medals and is one of three five-time Olympians competing for the U.S. "When my teammate told me, we sat in the room for about a half an hour not saying anything. My hands were shaking. This team is made up of a lot of great men and women, and for them to have voted me to carry the flag, the hair was standing up on the back of my neck."

Nordic combined skier Todd Lodwick and freestyle skier Casey Puckett are the other two U.S. athletes who've made five Olympic appearances.

The opening ceremonies were scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday but the torch relay, press conferences from the IOC and Ice Dancers were slated for the day.