Nightly News | February 03, 2014
>> thompson: to find snow at the warmest site ever to host the winter olympics , you must go up into the caucasus mountains . the peaks that separate europe and asia will unite the world in sport -- if there´s enough snow. can you control mother nature ?
>> martikainen: of course not.
>> thompson: mikko martikainen is the finnish snow expert hired by the russians to help mother nature . he stored 16 million cubic feet of last winter´s snow under insulated blankets just in case.
>> martikainen: if we face the warmest winter in 100 year, we are ready, or the coldest. the weather´s very changeable here.
>> thompson: the men´s downhill will start where the snow can be heavy and end nearly 5,000 feet lower, where rain can fall. the ski-jump site is at the lowest altitude ever. but so far, so good. that stored snow is now the base layer, and the only storage site left has been turned into an amateur ski jump .
>> martikainen: still there. if we need it, we can transport it to lower spot.
>> thompson: martikainen says 75% of the snow here is man-made from snow-making guns -- 403 of them operated from this mission control .
>> honey: we can control every part of the snow-making process from here.
>> thompson: ian honey, a native australian , is project manager for smi snow making , a michigan company.
>> honey: we´ve been told we´re producing too much, so... which is great for us.
>> thompson: the snow comes from two man-made ponds on the mountain. this one holds 18.5 million gallons of water, enough to cover 101 acres in a foot of snow. different events demand different types of snow.
>> honey: downhills, they typically want a very hard, unforgiving snow. the people over in freestyle, they want softer, more pliable.
>> thompson: three-time olympian and moguls gold medalist hannah kearney is pleasantly surprised.
>> kearney: it´s a little bit closer to torino, sort of firm snow. there´s a good base.
>> thompson: is the hardest part over?
>> honey: yes.
>> thompson: for the athletes, it has yet to begin. anne thompson , nbc news, sochi.