YANQING, China – High winds at the National Alpine Ski Center forced the postponement of Saturday’s final alpine race at the Beijing Olympics, the mixed team event, to Sunday, the final day of the games, with a start time of 9 a.m. local time. .
After winds of up to 40 mph caused two weather delays on Saturday morning, organizers and alpine ski officials decided after 11:30 a.m. local time (10:30 p.m. ET) to either postpone or cancel the event. The decision to postpone it to Sunday came more than an hour later. Among the issues complicating the decision: The forecast for Sunday is no better than that of Saturday, and some teams were scheduled to leave Beijing late Saturday night or early Sunday.
“It was very clear with the wind blowing, and it was not possible to organize the race,” said Jenny Weddick, Director of Communications for the International Ski Federation (FIS). “…when air fences fly, that’s a very clear decision.”
The race, which will see American star Michaela Shiffrin’s sixth and last chance to win a medal in this Olympic Games, was originally scheduled for 11 am local time, but officials decided on Friday to move the start by an hour, until 10 am, due to the expected weather.
However, less than an hour before the race was scheduled to start, officials decided the race was too dangerous – with the start postponed by one hour, then another. At one point, part of the gondola system that takes skiers, media, volunteers, and officials to the start and finish areas shut down due to wind, forcing everyone onto shuttle buses climbing a steep path through harsh turns to the top. .
According to Olympic historian Bill Mallon, one Winter Olympic event has been canceled altogether: In 1928 in St. Moritz, Switzerland, the men’s 10-kilometer speed skating event was canceled after warm weather caused the snow to melt.
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