Olympians Contend With Real Snow

Crews clear accumulation from courses and tracks as visibility worsens
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 13, 2022 12:37 PM CST
Olympians Contend With Real Snow
Course workers blow snow from the men's giant slalom course as the snow comes down Sunday at the Beijing Games.   (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

The Winter Olympics finally look like, well, the Winter Olympics. Real snow fell in Beijing on Sunday for the first time since the Olympics began, giving the city the appearance and feel of a real Winter Games. There was fresh snow in the mountains as well, where all events have been contested on artificial snow, the AP reports. While the snow was mostly a welcome sight, up in the mountains it affected visibility and made it tougher for ski racers to make it down the hill, especially in the first run of the two-leg giant slalom.

Marco Odermatt of Switzerland handled the snow and poor visibility better than anyone and won his first Olympic gold medal. "It was a hard day, with the conditions," said Odermatt, who "really risked everything in the second run because I wanted not just the medal, I wanted the gold medal." While a light snow fell Saturday, it came down a lot harder on Sunday, the first time it snowed during an Alpine race during the Beijing Olympics. The heavy snow forced the second run to be postponed by 1 hour, 15 minutes. During the delay, workers cleared snow from the course with snow blowers and shovels.

Many skiers had a rough day on the course known as the Ice River at the Yanqing Alpine Skiing Center. "It's a shame what the weather is like. I was hoping for the sun, like on all the other days. Couldn't see anything," said Luca de Aliprandini of Italy, who was sixth after the first run but skied off course and didn't finish the second run. US skier Tommy Ford, who came in 12th, said, "It's great conditions on the course, but you can’t see it." The snow affected the men's cross-country relay ski race so much that workers used leaf blowers to clear it out of the tracks. Ski tracks were slow, especially on the first two classic ski legs. Gusty winds and snow postponed the qualifying round for women's slopestyle, so freestyle skier Eileen Gu has to wait to try to win a second gold medal.

(More 2022 Beijing Olympics stories.)

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