PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Race organizers are expecting a challenging day but are confident the Olympic Alpine skiing program will get underway with the women’s giant slalom on Monday despite the strong winds which forced the postponement of the men’s downhill.
Winds of 39 knots (72 kilometers per hour) forced the closure of the Jeongseon Alpine Center for safety reasons on Sunday and the downhill was moved to the Thursday with the men’s Super G shifted back to Friday’s rest day.
The forecast for the Yongpyong center, where the technical events are being held, calls for winds gusting up to 28 knots at the time when the race is scheduled to get underway on Monday.
Women’s chief race director Atle Skaardal told the team captains’ briefing on Sunday evening that organizers would do everything in their power to get the race going.
“We face a long day tomorrow. The weather forecast for us as far as the wind is concerned is not that good,” the Norwegian said.
”It will be a challenge for the racers, it will be a challenge for the (organizers), it will be a challenge for everybody.
“Who knows what’s going to happen? Hopefully it will not be as strong as forecast but we will stretch our limits as far as possible to run the race tomorrow.”
Another reason for the postponement of the men’s downhill was that the gondola at the Jeongseon center was unable to run in such high winds.
Skaardal said, however, that the gondola at the Yongpyong center had run smoothly on Sunday in winds higher than those forecast for Monday.
“If the gondola does not run because of the wind we will have a big problem and be sending you some information about delays or cancellations,” he said.
Organizers would prepare a reserve start and were prepared to be flexible to get the skiers off and racing, he added.
“I‘m just saying this so everyone is ready for a windy day but I hope we can have a good race in the end,” he said.
The draw was also made at the briefing and favorites Tessa Worley of France, 2010 champion Viktoria Rebensburg and American Mikaela Shiffrin will be among the first skiers out, running in fourth, sixth and seventh positions respectively.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty