Contenders call for fair downhill as 'stupid' wind hits Jeongseon
Organisers need to do everything possible to ensure that the Olympic men's downhill is run in good conditions, leading medal contenders said on Friday after high winds disrupted the second training run for Sunday's race.
Members of staff re-set the gates in windy conditions during the Men's Downhill Alpine Skiing training at Jeongseon
The traditional curtain-raiser to the Alpine skiing programme at the Winter Olympics, the downhill is scheduled to take place on Sunday when winds in excess of 30 knots (55.6 km per hour) are forecast for the Jeongseon Alpine Centre.
Friday's training session was delayed by 30 minutes and was run on a shorter course because of gusting winds at the top of the mountain.
Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud posted the second best time after benefiting from tail-winds and said maintaining the integrity of the competition was paramount if the race needed to be rescheduled.
High winds have disrupted men's downhill practise for a second day
Image credit: Getty Images
"The message we got is that they want to do the downhill from the top in fair conditions," said the 2014 Olympic Super G champion.
"I'm thankful to hear that because that's the way it should be in the Olympics. We do have reserve days and if it's more windy than today, the gondola's not going to run so then we have a major problem and (the race) is not going to happen.
"If that happens, I hope they give good consideration before running it because if there are tail-winds, it will have a huge impact on the race."
International Ski Federation (FIS) chief race director Markus Waldner said on Thursday that organisers were considering their options in case the gondola was unable to ship the skiers to the top of the downhill run.
The option of shifting it forward to Saturday has already been ruled out by the International Olympic Committee so it looks like the programme, which has races on 11 of the 12 days of competition, will have to be rejigged.
Weather disruptions are commonplace in Alpine skiing both on the World Cup circuit and at the Olympics, and organisers always give themselves plenty of room for adjustments.
James Crawford of Canada crashes during his run during the Men's Downhill Alpine Skiing training at Jeongseon
Image credit: Getty Images
"The wind is always stupid for us because firstly it makes the race a bit unfair and secondly it also makes it dangerous," said Germany's Thomas Dressen.
"But I am certain we will not start if it is dangerous and I think they will stage a fair race."
Canada's Manuel Osborne-Paradis said dealing with the weather went part and parcel with competing in an outdoor sport.
"The weather happens - in and out of clouds, the wind, snow picks up, whatever," he said.
"You push out of the gate, you do your best for two minutes and all the stars have to align anyway... The only factor you're in charge of is how you ski."