Thick fog causes delays at Sochi Olympics

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Thick fog lingered over
the mountains at the Sochi Olympics on Monday, forcing the postponement
of a biathlon race and snowboard event until Tuesday.
The fog
rolled in over the mountains in Krasnaya Polyana on Sunday night and
showed no sign of dissipating by Monday afternoon. That prompted
organizers to call off the men’s biathlon mass-start race and men’s
snowboardcross almost simultaneously.
The biathlon race, which had
already been pushed back from Sunday evening, will now be held Tuesday
at 2:30 p.m., organizers said. A decision on the women’s mass-start race
still scheduled for its original 7 p.m. start was set to be made later
Monday.
"Well, I am going to sleep again," double Olympic champion
Martin Fourcade tweeted in French after the race was postponed. "We’ll
see each other tomorrow!"
At the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, the
snowboardcross was also first delayed then postponed. Organizers first
canceled the seeding runs for the event, then pushed back the
elimination races before calling it a day. The elimination races will
now start at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, with the seeding runs scrapped.
The
Alpine events were not affected because Monday was an off-day, but
organizers called off a free skiing session to keep the course intact
for Tuesday’s women’s giant slalom.
Women’s race director Atle Skaardal said the fog could still affect that event if it remains.
"I don’t know if they’ll see anything," Skaardal said.
The
ski jumping venue is at a lower altitude and was not shrouded in the
thick fog. A training round for Nordic combined athletes was held
without disruptions, and the ski jump team event was also expected to go
ahead as scheduled.
The fog is causing a new challenge for the
athletes following days of sunshine and unseasonably warm weather. At
the Laura Cross Country Ski and Biathlon Center, the high temperatures
toward the end of last week had softened the snow and led to some
cross-country skiers cutting off the sleeves on their suits.
In biathlon, fog is an even bigger problem because it limits the visibility on the shooting range.
"You
have to be able to hit the targets," said Jerry Kokesh, the editor of
the International Biathlon Union’s official website, adding that the
course becomes more dangerous as well. "Uphills are not a problem, but
downhills are. … That can be a serious safety concern."
The
first week of the games went by without any major disruptions to the
schedule before Sunday’s biathlon race was postponed, despite concerns
going into the Olympics about the warm climate in Sochi. IOC spokesman
Mark Adams said every Winter Olympics normally faces some rescheduling
because of the weather, and that Sochi has been relatively unaffected.
"In
terms of what’s going on there, I think it’s actually quite ironic that
the biggest issue we’ve had so far is due to winter fog," Adams said.
"Winter sports is very unpredictable. It’s a very dynamic field of play.
At present, the conditions are good and we are continuing. We haven’t
had any major complaints up there."
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AP Sports Writers Will Graves, Jon Krawczynski and Andrew Dampf contributed to this report.
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