Warm weather causing problems at Winter Olympics
Ireland’s Seamus O’Connor due to take part in snowboard halfpipe qualification despite high temperatures
Canada’s Dara Howell, who took the gold medal, performs a jump during the women’s freestyle skiing slopestyle finals. Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters
Canada’s Dara Howell, who took the gold medal, performs a jump during the women’s freestyle skiing slopestyle finals. Photograph: Jens Buettner/EPA
Stored snow has been used in the Winter Olympic mountain venues in Sochi, but the International Olympic Committee moved to allay fears that high temperatures are set to cause problems.
Temperatures at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center, one part of the mountain cluster, will reach 6C on Tuesday and is forecast to rise to as high as 11C by Friday.
There were reports that today’s men’s snowboard halfpipe, in which Ireland’s Seamus O’Connor will compete, may have been delayed due to poor conditions, but the first qualification run is still scheduled for 2pm local time.
At the daily IOC press conference, Aleksandra Kosterina, director of communication for Sochi 2014, confirmed that stored snow has already been used during the preparations for the competition.
Although she was unclear when asked if it had been used since the Games started, Kosterina was confident that all was in hand.
She said: “We did (use stored snow). I cannot tell you how much.
“We will have a press conference dedicated to the mountain cluster events and the snow programme will feature enormously. They will explain the specifics of it.
“There were adjustments with the halfpipe and there were adjustments also with the jumping if I am not mistaken, but they are fine now.
“We do have a strong contingency plan in place. We developed a special programme two years ago that included several measures and one of them was the snow preservation, basically the snow that was preserved from the previous season in preservation materials. The production of the snow was also one of the measures.
“In fact, we have tested it already during last season’s test events. We had very warm temps last year and we managed to have all of the events that were planned.”
International Olympic Committee spokesman, Mark Adams, added: “Clearly, it is an FIS (International Ski Federation) issue but here is always a problem when it is a little bit warmer.
“There is no problem at all with the halfpipe, it is just that these are dynamic, living fields of play. All of the snow venues are such, so they need to make normal adjustments to those.
“It is a little warm and that is causing one or two problems, but so far things are running to schedule.
“I don’t think there is any major news to report.
“The people who run that, the FIS, are used to this. It is not an unusual condition.
“There is plenty of snow, it is just a little bit warm.”
O’Connor will take on the best snowboarders in the world this afternoon at 2pm (10.00am Irish time) when he goes in the half-pipe competition, his second event of the games.
The 16-year-old from San Diego who finished 17th overall in the slopestyle competition last Saturday will be aiming for a semi-final place when comes up against a very deep field including among others Shaun White, arguably the world’s most famous Winter Olympian.
Much like the slopestyle competition, the build-up to the half-pipe has been dominated by criticism of the course, with White among those who have spoken out against the design. Riders have denounced it as a boring course, one even calling it ‘garbage’.
White is under pressure to perform in the half-pipe, having pulled out of the slopestyle citing safety concerns. Other riders called him out on his refusal to compete, saying he was more scared of losing than of getting hurt.