Olympic Athletes Struggle With Mushy Snow As Sochi Temperatures Rise
Olympic organizers "shrugged off the threat of a snow shortage as the sun blazed over the alpine events at the Winter Games" on Wednesday, according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. The Sochi 2014 authorities disclosed on Tuesday that they "had to dip into stores of 500,000 cubic metres of snow held in high-tech dumps in the nearby Caucasus mountains to ensure that ski and snowboarding events could go ahead." The oganizers "are fighting a losing battle against weather that has turned positively spring-like." While Britain is battered with storms, Sochi "was bathed in sunshine with temperatures at 16C (61F) and rising in the Olympic Park." IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said that Winter Games of recent times "had been plagued with the problem of ensuring there was enough good snow for events but added that temperatures were expected to fall over the weekend." Adams: “I was at some of the events yesterday and it doesn’t seem to me to be an issue. I gather snow is coming at the weekend and that temperatures will go down at the weekend. I love the blue sky. The pictures are fantastic." There "have been numerous rumblings from the athletes about the quality of the courses but, so far, there have been no serious postponements" (LONDON TIMES, 2/12). R-SPORT reported "one of the worst-hit events was Tuesday’s men’s cross-country ski sprint, where four of the six men in the final hit the deck on treacherous downhill turns." Elsewhere, the first Olympic ski slopestyle final "was full of crashes for big names struggling to land their tricks on slushy snow." Snowboard halfpipe, one of the marquee events of the modern Games, "narrowly escaped a fiasco" in Tuesday’s final, but only after extra staff were drafted in to firm up a pipe that defending champion Shaun White had described as "just sand and mush” at the bottom. Even after placing fourth in the final, White had praise for the course staff who, he said, had transformed the pipe into something “night and day from where it was.” Of course, "not everyone hates the conditions, especially if they’re winning." After taking Gold, Canadian slopestyle skier Dara Howell said, “Hey, who doesn’t like spring skiing?” (R-SPORT, 2/12).
'MELTING AWAY': In Sydney, Greg Baum opined before a watching world, "the Sochi Olympics are melting away." Aesthetically as well as athletically and geopolitically, "they are turning into a disaster." Anyone with a feeling for snow knows that "what they are seeing on television is not it." At least, "it is not Olympian snow." Fetched from the back of trucks, "smeared thinly over grass and rock, it quickly chops up and liquidises and calves away in chunks from edges and lips, and grades itself into sludgy anthills in inconvenient places, like the middle of a course." It "is, ahem, Australian snow, and Australia is as likely to be considered to host the Winter Olympics as Qatar" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 2/13).