Skiers Struggle as Real Snow Falls on Winter Olympics

BEIJING — The Winter Olympics finally look like, well, the Winter Olympics.

For the first time in Olympic history, Beijing received real snow on Sunday. It gave Beijing the feeling of Winter Games. Fresh snow was also seen in the mountains, which are where most events were contested with artificial snow.

The snow is a beautiful sight and a welcomed one, but it was difficult to ski down in the mountains.

Marco Odermatt from Switzerland, who handled snow and low visibility with ease and won his first Olympic medal, was able to handle the conditions and win his first gold medal.
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“I really risked everything in the second run because I wanted not just the medal, I wanted the gold medal,” Odermatt said. ”It’s difficult because you can lose everything but today it paid off.”

Although it was light snow Saturday, Sunday saw it fall much more heavily. It had fallen for the first time during an Alpine race in the Beijing Olympics. Due to heavy snow, the second race was delayed by an hour and fifteen minutes. Workers cleared the snow using shovels and snow blowers during this delay.

“It was a hard day, with the conditions, with such a long wait between the two runs,” Odermatt said. “It was more than five hours for me, it was such a long time to re-think everything and it was hard to stay focused. I tried to get some sleep in the intervals.

“I actually never dreamt about it but now it still feels like a dream.”

Many skiers experienced a difficult day on The Ice River, Yanqing Alpine Skiing Center.

“It’s a shame what the weather is like. As on other days, I had hoped for sun. 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. “When I was going down, the flakes were big.”

American skier Tommy Ford was 12th.

“It’s great conditions on the course, but you can’t see it,” Ford said.

“It was difficult for everyone,” said Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway, who was eighth overall.

A second women’s downhill training run scheduled for Sunday was canceled.

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. The ski tracks became slow because of the snow, especially the two first classic legs.

Just like in the women’s race, the Russian team opened a lead on the first leg and then held on for the gold medal. Sergey Ustiugov held a lead of more than one minute on the final lap, beating the group of Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo from Norway and Maurice Manificat (France)

Ustiugov grabbed the flag as he crossed the finish line, and won the 10-kilometer relay in 1 hour 54 minutes 50.7 seconds. Comparatively, Ustiugov won the 10-kilometer relay in less than 20 minutes at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Freestyle skier Eileen Gu has to wait a day to try to win a second gold medal at the Beijing Games after gusty wind and snow postponed the qualifying round for women’s slopestyle.

The final was moved to Tuesday and qualifying was moved to Monday. It was decided not to air the Gold-Medal round against the Super Bowl. This is being televised also by NBC.

The men’s slopestyle qualification also was switched from Monday to Tuesday, with its final now set for Wednesday.

Gu, an 18-year-old year old, was at the top stretching out and getting ready to run in the windy conditions. The wind was whipping and the snow was blowing in the opposite direction. Low visibility made it difficult to land jumps from the huge kickers on the course.

Gu was born and raised in the United States but chose to compete for China, her mother’s home country. China loved her win in big air on Tuesday.


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