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Monday February 12, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

With more alpine ski races postponed and snowboarders taking hard falls in the Olympic slopestyle final, are the gusty conditions ruining the sport?



The now infamous Pyeongchang wind is continuing to disrupt the timetable at the Winter Olympics.

Today, the women's slalom became the third victim in the alpine programme.

It was delayed twice before being postponed until Friday because of high winds.

Wind on the slalom courseWind on the women's slalom course today

Only one of the four alpine events that should have taken place by now has been able to go ahead.

The men's downhill was the first to go.  It should have been run on Sunday but has been rescheduled to Thursday 15th.

Then it was the women's giant slalom which will also take place on Thursday after being called off on Monday. 

So far only the men's alpine combined has survived in its original slot.

It went ahead yesterday and was won by Austria's Marcel Hirscher.

Women's slalom course todayWind on the women's slalom course today

There were also complaints that the women's snowboard slopestyle final should not have gone ahead on Monday because the gusty conditions may it too dangerous (see below for more).

The Olympic slopestyle director, Roby Moresi, has since defended the decision to go ahead.

"They were saying that basically tomorrow (Tuesday) was going to be the same situation. It was not going to be a major improvement," he told Reuters.

"We played our cards. We evaluated the situation with what we had at that moment. And at that moment nobody was pulling back. They were good to go for it."

The weather is forecast to improve after today.



"I'm happy to see everyone's in one piece."

The words of Team GB snowboarder Aimee Fuller after finishing 17th in the women's slopestyle final.

"Conditions today were definitely a challenge.

"It was for sure not what I wanted, not what I expected, not what I dreamed of for my Olympic final. But it is what it is."

The experienced 26-year-old was one several riders who took heavy falls or pulled out of their planned big tricks in conditions British Ski and Snowboard described on social media as "horrific".

Aimee FullerAimee Fuller goes down hard














The first two alpine races have already had to be postponed because of high winds.

The blue riband event, the men's downhill, should have taken place on Sunday and the women's giant slalom on Monday.

Both have been re-scheduled for Thursday.

So, should the organisers have pulled the plug on the slopestyle too?

GB's only medallist on snow, Jenny Jones, who won bronze in this event at Sochi four years ago, thinks so, saying "it did look dangerous".

She's working at the Games for the BBC.

Jenny JonesJenny Jones on the BBC - "It did look dangerous"














"It was a total lottery of what was going to happen," she told BBC Sport.

"I wonder what went on in those conversations and why somebody didn't say 'let's postpone this'. In my mind, I would have wanted it to be postponed.

"Of course it's not safe. It's an extreme sport.

"You're jumping off a 60-foot kicker and you're almost sailing on your board.

"Luckily nobody was badly injured. I'd be asking why this whole thing carried on."

The qualification runs scheduled for Sunday were scrapped because of dangerously windy weather and all the athletes were given a bye straight through to a two-run final.

Windsock at the slopestyleWindsock at the slopestyle














All 25 competitors fell in at least one of their runs.

None of them were able to lay down their best routine and it certainly was not the spectacular event we've come to expect of elite competition.

After Fuller finished 17th, matching her result from Sochi, she said it was not a good advertisement for women's slopestyle.

Aimee FullerAimee Fuller - photo Tommy Pyatt














"There were huge gusts of wind. I've decided to call it the Pyeongchang gust. Some riders were very lucky. If you got a drop in the wind you could get through and have a cruisy run.

"In general, I think for the most part everyone struggled. And I'm happy to see everyone's in one piece.

"Looking at the long range forecast this was the best day to do it.

"Unfortunately it wasn't the best day for our sport. Some people got lucky and I didn't."


The defending champion, American Jamie Anderson, won gold, Canada's Laurie Blouin the silver and Finland's Enni Rukajarvi bronze.

Despite her medal Rukarjarvi, who had a big fall in her first run, was unhappy that the competition had gone ahead, saying it was too dangerous.

Enni RukajarviEnni Rukajarvi down in run 1

And one of the favourites, the Austrian Anna Gasser, who fell on both runs and finished 15th, has reportedly claimed that athletes had wanted the competition stopped.

"We tried to speak to officials but the Olympics put us under pressure to do it today," she told the media in South Korea.

"They said we had to do it today."

Anna GasserUnhappy Anna Gasser


Meanwhile a snowboarder who badly injured her knee training for the slopestyle has blamed the wind.

17-year-old Australian Tess Coady ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament when she fell practising a jump in high winds just before the organisers called off qualifying.

Australian officials have asked for an investigation into whether the training session should also have been called off.

The International Olympic Committee has insisted that safety is the priority.

Whether or not the competition should have gone ahead, if the gusty conditions in Pyeongchang continue, the organisers could face scheduling problems.

The next test will be the men's alpine combined event, which sees racers tackle both a downhill and a slalom.

It's due to take place on Tuesday with the downhill at 11.30am local (2.30am GMT) and the slalom at 3pm local (6am GMT).

Let's hope that for the sake of the Olympics, the sport that's yet to come and the safety of all the skiers and snowboarders, the weather calms down.

Coming up on day four .....


The men's alpine combined, as mentioned above, weather permitting.


The cross-country ski programme continues with the men's sprint classic and Team GB's representative is Andrew Young who is competing in his third Winter Olympics.

Andrew YoungAndrew Young

The sprint is Young's strongest race distance in which he has already achieved a World Cup podium.

However in Pyeongchang the race is in the classic rather than free skate style, which is the technique that has earned four individual World Cup top 10s, including a third place in 2015. 

26-year-old Young will hope to qualify in the top 30 in the prologue to earn a place in the knockout stages.

The sprint starts at 6.05pm local time (9.05am GMT) with the quarter-finals at 8.25pm (11.25am GMT).

Snowboard halfpipe

The women's final is due to begin at 10am (1am GMT).

The men's qualification heats are at 1pm (4am GMT).

There is no British involvement in either event but look out for two Americans -  the red hot favourite, 17-year-old Chloe Kim in the women's final,  and Shaun White (aka The Flying Tomato) in the men's qualification.

Shaun WhiteShaun White in the halfpipe - photo Shaun White Facebook















31-year-old White is the world number one and a double Olympic champion from Turin in 2006 and Vancouver in 2010.

But in a shock result he managed only fourth place at Sochi and will be looking to regain his title.

Short-track speed skating

A potential highlight as it could see Team GB pick up its first medal and quite possibly a gold.

Triple world champion Elise Christie goes in the women's 500 metres quarter finals starting at 7pm (10am GMT) with the semi-finals at 8.11pm (11.11am GMT) and the finals from 9.07pm (12.07am GMT).

At Sochi Christie was disqualified in the 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m so will be hoping for better luck to bring her first Olympic medal.

Fingers crossed!

Elise Christie in PyeongchangElise Christie at the 500m heats - photo Elise Christie Facebook














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