Olympic men’s downhill postponed because of strong wind

Pyeongchang Olympics Alpine Skiing_790472

The empty stands around the finish area during men’s downhill training at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Jeongseon, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) Fierce wind forced the Olympic men’s downhill to be postponed Sunday, moving the marquee race from its traditional place opening the Alpine program.

The first race on an 11-event Alpine schedule was shelved three hours before the start time at the Jeongseon hill, and organizers said the downhill would be moved to a different day.

”It’s imperative with fair conditions and I applaud the decision. Thanks,” Kjetil Jansrud of Norway, one of the gold medal favorites, wrote on Twitter .

Racers risk being blown off a safe racing line when hitting speeds of about 125 kph (75 mph).

”Very strong winds, with gusts up to 72 kph (50 mph), that are forecast to continue all day have forced the jury together with (the Pyeongchang organizing committee) to postpone the event,” the International Ski Federation (FIS) said.

On Monday, the women’s giant slalom with Mikaela Shiffrin will now be the first Alpine medal race.

A new date for men’s downhill was not immediately announced by the world ski body, which said the men’s Alpine combined event was scheduled to go ahead as planned on Tuesday.

”The jury will make a plan for the next days,” FIS said, adding that more strong wind forecast for Monday meant a downhill training event for racers in the combined was canceled.

Race organizers said the only gondola lift carrying teams and officials up the mountain was closed early Sunday.

Organizers previously suggested the men’s downhill could start Monday, at around midday between two runs of women’s giant slalom staged at nearby Yongpyong.

That option no longer exists, and the first available reserve day in the Alpine program is Friday.

The men’s super-G is scheduled for Thursday but could be pushed back a day to let the downhill run first.

More AP Olympics: https://wintergames.ap.org

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