The International Ski Federation considered Nagano's 5,512-foot downhill ski run too short for the Olympics. But environmentalists argued that if the start were moved higher up Mount Karamatsu, the run would encroach on a national park zone.
A compromise was reached on Dec. 1, when the starting gate was raised 279 feet (115 feet lower than the ski federation had proposed).
The new start, which is located just below the park, adds about 15 seconds to the run, making it comparable to previous Olympic downhill courses, where times
have averaged 1 minute, 40 seconds.
With that solved, Nagano officials can concentrate on another problem: lack of snow.
Two factors affecting the snowfall in Nagano:
El Ni�o has caused milder weather than usual this year; slopes at Nagano are barely dusted
Nagano (at about the same latitude as Richmond, Va.) is farther the south than any previous Winter Olympics site.
Organizers are praying for snow. If their prayers fail, the army will truck it in. What everyone wants to avoid is having to make snow; that would upset the environmentalists again. The machinery can disturb the feeding grounds of the Gifu, a sacred butterfly.