PYEONGCHANG (Reuters) - Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud questioned the fairness of the downhill run for the men’s combined after organisers finally got the Alpine skiing programme underway at the Pyeongchang Olympics after two days of weather postponements on Tuesday.
Strong winds at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre forced the suspension of the men’s downhill on Sunday and the women’s giant slalom was also rescheduled after similar problems on Monday at the Yongpyong course being used for the technical events.
The winds were still high on Tuesday but organisers opted to go ahead with an adjusted downhill stage, starting lower down the course at the designated super-G start and using the ‘blue wind line’ which effectively eliminates jumps from the race.
“It’s shortened downhill course with the wind playing its role,” Jansrud, one of the two athletes’ representatives for the race, said after clocking the fourth fastest time.
“I wish we could have gone in fair conditions.”
Two of the first four competitors to go down the slope fell but both looked like skier error with Pavel Trikhichev, an athlete from Russia, and American Ryan Cochran-Siegle getting their line wrong and clipping a gate.
Organisers exercised a little caution after Trikhichev’s heavy tumble by sending a front-runner down the course before Cochran-Siegle started off.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) were forced to defend running the snowboard slopestyle final in strong crosswinds on Monday, stressing that the safety of the athletes was always the first priority.
While the remainder of Tuesday’s session indicated that safety was not an issue on the downhill run, Jansrud questioned whether the integrity of the event had been maintained.
The super-G Olympic champion is one of the speed merchants who would have been looking to build a lead on the downhill run to make up for the advantage the more technical skiiers would have in the later slalom stage.
“You know in downhill, if you stick hand out at 100 kph, that’s three 10ths (of a second right there). So you can imagine how it works with a little bit of headwind,” he added.
“I think there’s a big difference between being negative and being realistic. Realistically, the wind plays its role and it’s a short downhill so realistically it makes it really tough for us.
“I’m not being negative, when FIS says go, we go, and everything can happen in slalom part, but it certainly wasn’t the downhill run we wanted.”
Jansrud’s team mate Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who only managed the 15th fastest time, was equally unimpressed.
“It’s not funny when you get to the end and you are two seconds down with no mistakes,” he said.
Additional reporting by Simon Evans,; Editing by John O'Brien/Amlan Chakraborty