February 10, 2018 / 9:15 AM / 14 days ago

Prospects bleak for downhill if forecast holds

PYEONGCHANG (Reuters) - The prospects of the men’s downhill being run as scheduled looked bleak on Saturday with gusting winds of up to 39 knots (72 kilometres per hour) forecast for the Jeongseon Alpine Centre when the Olympic programme gets underway on Sunday.

The local meteorologist briefing the team captains’ meeting ahead of the draw for the blue riband race predicted winds of a strength well past the point that at which the gondola that takes the skiers up the mountain would have to be closed.

“We can expect quite a challenging day tomorrow,” said chief race director Markus Waldner.

“But we proceed as usual. At 10 am, we will make the decision whether to race. If it makes sense we can delay, and if not we can cancel.”

The race is scheduled to get underway at 11 am local time (0200 GMT) and organizers might take some comfort from the fact that Saturday’s training run proceeded smoothly in clement conditions despite high winds having been forecast.

Waldner has already said that if the race cannot be run it will be moved to Monday, weather permitting.

Disruption to the Alpinr skiing at the Winter Olympics is not unusual and it is a rare Games where some re-jigging of the schedule is not necessary.

Hannes Reichelt will go first when the race does get underway with his fellow Austrian Matthias Mayer, the defending champion, set to go out third.

Swiss world champion Beat Feuz will be the seventh skier to go down the course ahead of Aksel Lund Svindal in ninth and the other main Norwegian contender Kjetil Jansrud (17th).

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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