SOCHI: The organisers of the Sochi Olympics Thursday played down concerns that spring-like temperatures could harm the Games, as skiers donned T-shirts to stay cool amid temperatures better suited for sun-bathing than winter sports.
In a sign that a close eye was being kept on the weather, the organisers brought forward the start of the men’s super combined Friday morning by one hour to ensure the best conditions.
Training on Friday for the biathlon was also brought forward by two hours due to the warm weather conditions, which have already been blamed for several crashes in races.
“I’ve been in every Olympics since 1992 and we’ve never had temperatures like this for a competition,” said the technical delegate for biathlon at the Olympics, Max Cobb.
The Russian organisers have stockpiled vast amounts of snow from last season but Sochi, 2014 spokeswoman Alexandra Kosterina said there had been no need to call on these reserves so far during the Games themselves.
“We have a strong contingency plan in place but we have not used the stored snow since the beginning of the Games,” she said.
Temperatures Thursday rose as high as 16 degrees Celsius at sea level where the stadium events are held but this should have no effect on the indoor competition.
International Olympics Committee spokesman Mark Adams said all events were taking place on schedule and there was no reason for alarm.
“For the time being – and it is always a constant battle with winter sports – we are relaxed but watching the situation,” he said.
Christensen wins slopestyle gold
Joss Christensen led a US podium sweep in the men’s freestyle skiing slopestyle event at the Sochi Olympics Thursday, and then dedicated his gold medal to his father, who died last year.
Just as he had done in the morning heats, Christensen produced the best two runs of the final with scores of 95.80 and 93.80, edging out Gus Kenworthy (93.60), who took silver, and Nicholas Goepper (92.40), who won bronze.
“I hope I made my father proud,” said the 22-year-old. “He’s been supporting me since day one; and through all the injuries I’ve had.”
Meanwhile, Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk powered to an impressive victory in a gruelling women’s cross-country 10km classic at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Kowalczyk finished in a time of 28 minutes, 17.8 seconds. In another event, China’s Li Jianrou avoided an early pile-up to coast to victory in the women’s 500-metre short track speed skating.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2014.