Alpine skiing men’s downhill postponed after high winds
YANQING, China – The marquee event of the men’s Alpine Olympic program at the Beijing Winter Games was postponed to Monday at noon (0400 GMT) after high winds on Sunday forced two hours of delays before organizers threw in the towel.
“Due to the present weather situation with the wind gust and the updated forecast – the jury together with the organizer have decided in the best interest of safety and fairness for the racers to delay today’s men’s Olympic downhill to another day,” organizers said in a statement.
The men’s downhill will take place in between Monday’s scheduled women’s giant slalom, which will be held in two stages on the technical course adjacent to ‘The Rock’ speed course.
Similar wind in the upper and middle areas of the course had led to the cancellation of Saturday’s third training session after just three skiers had completed their run.
While fans are not allowed to attend the race due to COVID-19 restrictions, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach had arrived at the course, which is made from artificial snow, to watch the event.
Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, the favorite in the event, backed the decision but said skiers might have to cope with some degree of wind.
“We will see, we just have to be patient and make sure that we make the right decisions,” the World Cup downhill leader said.
“If we talk about our safety then we can’t do much about it. But if it is only just a little bit, so it is safe to ski, then we might just have to race with wind and take what we get.
“It is an outside sport and we know about the wind and the things that can happen,” added Kilde, who hopes there will be less waiting around if a similar situation emerges.
“It is just a lot of lack of energy when you have to prepare for such a long day and then suddenly at 2 p.m. they have to make a decision. Let’s see if they can make a decision earlier in the future and hope for the best.”
French veteran Johan Clarey backed the decision.
“I think the conditions were not safe for everyone, so security first,” said the 41-year-old.
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