Schedules have been thrown out the window at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, a consequence of dangerous winds that have made it impossible to stage a number of outdoor events.
With wind gusts up to 50 mph, and sustained winds of nearly 25 mph, spectators were asked to evacuate the Olympic Park on Wednesday. The winds were knocking over makeshift tents and signs in the park, and many fans were quickly moved inside the Samsung building, which stands near the hockey arena in Gangneung.
Women’s Slopestyle Delayed
The winds have been an issue for several days now, with delays being an ongoing problem for many skiers and snowboarders. The first obvious impact of the weather came on Monday, when the women’s slopestyle competition was held despite the fact that the winds had not calmed nearly enough to make many of the riders comfortable with the conditions.
Initially, the riders were supposed to compete in qualifying on Sunday. But when winds scuttled that portion of the competition, officials determined that the event would be held as a two-run final with all 26 riders invited on Monday.
The next morning, the wind was still strong, but officials had the riders compete nonetheless. The result was something of a disaster: about 80 percent of the runs ended with riders either bailing out of suffering falls, some of which were frightening to watch.
Ultimately, favorite Jamie Anderson of the United States prevailed, winning her second straight gold medal in the event. But among the riders, the talk was that the event should have never happened at all. The situation had some questioning why the International Ski Federation (FIS) was willing to postpone so many skiing events, including the men’s downhill, but forced the snowboarders to compete in adverse conditions.
“They kind of told us if we don’t go today there was no other day so every girl felt the pressure to go,” said Austrian rider Anna Gasser, who fell on both of her runs. “It’s a little funny that they can move the downhill five days and they pressure us into riding in these conditions.”
Multiple Skiing Postponements
The postponements in alpine skiing have delayed some of the most anticipated events on the Olympic schedule.
Many fans are looking forward to seeing if American skier Mikaela Shiffrin can repeat as the gold medal winner in women’s slalom, where she is a -333 favorite against the entire field (+220) at bwin. Shiffin is also second choice in the giant slalom, which was delayed until Thursday. The American is +250 to win that event, just behind Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg (+200).
The 15 km women’s biathlon was also postponed until Thursday. That even could see Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier (-111) win her third gold medal of the Winter Olympics, having already taken the top honors in the 7.5 km sprint and the 10 km pursuit races.
Luckily, it seems as though the winds may start to die down. According to AccuWeather, a high pressure system should bring calmer weather for most of the next few days, though a storm could cause some windy conditions on Friday afternoon.