Texarkana, TX 37° View Live Radar Wed H 42° L 27° Thu H 52° L 34° Fri H 64° L 40° Weather Sponsored By:

Wind, ice, cold making this Olympics a chilly affair

Wind, ice, cold making this Olympics a chilly affair

February 13th, 2018 by None None or Override in Sports Pro
Spencer O'Brien of Canada runs the course during the women's slopestyle final Monday at Phoenix Snow Park at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea—The Winter Olympics are supposed to be cold, of course. Just maybe not THIS cold.

Wind and ice pellets left Olympic snowboarders simply trying to stay upright in conditions that many felt were unfit for competition, the best ski jumpers on the planet dealing with swirling gusts and biathletes aiming to shoot straight.

All around the games, athletes and fans are dealing with conditions that have tested even the most seasoned winter sports veterans.

Low temperatures have hovered in the single digits, dipping below zero Fahrenheit with unforgiving gusts whipping at 45 mph (70 kph) making it feel much colder. Organizers have shuffled schedules, and shivering spectators left events early.

The raw air sent hundreds of fans to the exits Sunday when qualifying was called off after women's slopestyle devolved into a mess of mistakes, and Monday's final started 75 minutes late. Of the 50 runs, 41 ended with a fall or a rider essentially giving up. The temperature dropped to 3 Fahrenheit, with high winds.

American Jamie Anderson won the gold medal by watching most of her competitors struggle, and then completing a conservative run that paled in comparison to her winning performance at the X Games just two weeks ago.

"It has to be absolutely petrifying, terrifying, being up that high in the air, and having a gust 30 mph coming sideways at you," said United States Ski and Snowboard Association CEO Tiger Shaw.

Many of the snowboarders didn't think they should have been out there.

"You're going up the chairlift and you see these little tornadoes," said Czech snowboarder Sarka Pancohova, who finished 16th, "and you're like, 'What is this?'"

At ski jumping, giant netting was set up to reduce the wind that can blow at three times the optimal velocity for the sport. Didn't help all that much, though: The men's normal hill final on Saturday was pushed back repeatedly and eventually finished after midnight.

"It was unbelievably cold," said Japan's Noriaki Kasai, competing at his record eighth Olympics. "The noise of the wind at the top of the jump was incredible. I've never experienced anything like that on the World Cup circuit. I said to myself, 'Surely, they are going to cancel this.'"

Alpine skiing, meanwhile, still hasn't been able to get started at all, leaving stars like Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. and Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway waiting for their turn in the spotlight. Each of the first two races on the program — the men's downhill Sunday, and the women's giant slalom Monday — were called off hours before they were supposed to begin. Both of those have been moved to Thursday, when things are supposed to become slightly more manageable.

The forecast calls for more high winds Tuesday and Wednesday, although temperatures are expected to climb to 26.

"I am pretty sure that soon," men's race director Markus Waldner said with a wry smile, "we will have a race."

Until then, he and other officials are left trying to come up with contingency plans and ways to get the full 11-race Alpine program completed before the Olympics are scheduled to close on Feb. 25.

As it is, logistical complications are real concerns.

Waldner pointed out that he needs to figure out a way to get three men's races — the combined, downhill and super-G — completed by Friday, because there is only one hotel right by the speed course at the Jeongseon Alpine Center. The male skiers need to vacate their rooms to make way for their female counterparts, whose speed events are supposed to begin Saturday.

"Now, it's getting tight," he said.

Even those attending indoor events have been tested. Long, cold waits for buses have left workers, media and fans complaining.

Those involved in winter sports are used to this sort of thing, of course.

At the 2007 Alpine world championships in Sweden, for example, strong winds wiped out first three days of competition. At the 1993 world championships in Japan, the men's super-G was never contested.

Can happen the other way, too. At the 2010 Vancouver Games, the first two Alpine races were postponed because of rain and — get this — too-warm temperatures in the 40s (below 10 Celsius). The entire Alpine world championships slated for Spain in 1995 were rescheduled for a whole year later because of a lack of snow.

"That's a piece of the puzzle that, I guess, fortunately or unfortunately is part of our world," U.S. Alpine men's speed coach Johno McBride said. "You're dealing with Mother Nature."

———

AP Sports Writers Jim Armstrong, Pat Graham, Eddie Pells and Jake Seiner contributed to this report.

———

More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org/

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com