Men's alpine ski race canceled due to high winds

The start of the men’s downhill race at the Beijing Olympics on Sunday was pushed back a day due to high winds, conditions that had cont...


The start of the men’s downhill race at the Beijing Olympics on Sunday was pushed back a day due to high winds, conditions that had contributed to competitors feeling unwell at a high-speed race on an icy, unfamiliar racecourse.

After several delays and a meeting at the base of the mountain with the leaders of the local organizing committee, the FIS, which is the world governing body for skiing, and the Olympic Broadcasting System, the organizers announced that the men’s downhill will Monday at noon between the first and second runs of the women’s giant slalom.

The first run of the giant slalom has been moved from 10:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The men’s downhill will then take place at noon, followed by the final run of the women’s giant slalom at 2:30 a.m. The giant slalom and the downhill take place on different slopes.

Two of America’s top medal hopefuls of the event agreed with the decision.

“It’s a disappointment, but it’s a relief that they’re trying to have a fair race,” Bryce Bennett said.

Bennett and teammate Ryan Cochran-Siegle spent time during Sunday’s delays skiing for free in the area.

“We want the best skier to be able to win on race day,” Cochran-Siegle said. “There will hopefully be a better opportunity than today.”

Olympic alpine races are usually held on established courses, and when a new, unfamiliar track is selected, there are test events and training opportunities on the course for a year or more before the Olympics are held.

But the downhill course on Xiaohaituo Mountain in a remote suburb of Beijing has been unable to hold test events for the past two winters due to the pandemic. The first chance riders had to investigate and practice on the course – or at the racetracks of any of the other nine individual alpine events – was a few days ago. The surface under the runners’ skis will also be something new for an Olympic venue: it is made entirely of artificial snow, as the area usually only receives a few centimeters of natural snow.

On the first of three training runs scheduled for Thursday, about a third of the riders failed through all the gates. During Friday’s second practice run, riders were beginning to grip the hilly terrain, which has several blind bumps and will require riders to hit speeds approaching 90 miles per hour. But after races of just three runners, a third and final practice race on Saturday was canceled due to high winds, which are common to the region and add another treacherous element to an event that forces runners to fly up 60 meters from a series. of jumps.

The cancellation of the third practice opportunity has outraged many racers and their coaches as most competitors use their last practice attempt on the course as a trial run for tactics and the path between the gates, known as the line. But on Saturday, race officials deemed the gusts of wind dangerous, potentially a recurring and unpredictable weather condition for alpine races at the venue.

Kilde, who tops the World Cup downhill standings this season, had the fastest training run in Friday’s training session. He will be challenged by the Austrians Matthias Mayer, winner of the event in 2014, and Vincent Kriechmayr, and two Swiss riders: Beat Feuz and Marco Odermatt, who is the overall leader of the World Cup this season. Another rider with a strong downhill pedigree is Italian Dominik Paris.

America’s top contenders are Bryce Bennett, Travis Ganong and Ryan Cochran-Siegle. No American has won a medal in this event since Bode Miller won bronze at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Men's alpine ski race canceled due to high winds
Men's alpine ski race canceled due to high winds
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