A snowstorm ravages the Winter Games

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YANQING, China – Natural snow finally fell on the National Alpine Skiing Center here on the 11th day of Olympic activity – and has become a problem for snow sports that have grown accustomed to running on artificial surfaces.

Organizers canceled the second day of women’s downhill training “due to snowfall”.

In Zhangjiakou, at Genting Snow Park, women’s slopestyle skiing qualifications were first delayed and then postponed to a later date “due to the current adverse weather conditions”.

The rains started late Saturday evening and Sunday morning. A few centimeters of snow had blanketed the roads and racetracks of Yanqing ahead of Sunday’s competitions. The organizers decided shortly before 8 a.m. to stop the downhill training.

The men’s giant slalom competition started as scheduled at 10:15 a.m. local time, but with reduced intervals between start times from one runner to another — 1 minute 45 seconds instead of 2 minutes.

American skier Tommy Ford, after his first run, called it “the day you can’t see anything”.

These Olympics rely entirely on artificial snow for outdoor events, in part because Yanqing – a district on the outskirts of Beijing – and Zhangjiakou – a mountainous city in a neighboring province – receive very little natural snowfall. . Yanqing received none last year, and only a small storm earlier this season. Both sit on the outskirts of the Gobi Desert.

The reliance on artificial snow has drawn attention and concern from environmental groups. But in reality, it has become the norm for international ski and snowboard competitions. Some Winter Olympics actually prefer it.

“We’ve been riding a lot of artificial snow halfpipes for so long now, we’ve gotten used to it,” American snowboarder Maddie Mastro said in October.

A worker clears snow from the women’s downhill course as the women’s downhill training was canceled due to snowfall during the 2022 Winter Olympics at the Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Center in Yanqing on February 13, 2022. ( DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images)

“The majority of the slopes we ski on are artificially created,” said American alpine skier Ryan Cochran-Siegle. “And they also do a lot of watering, or water injection, to make it a more icy surface.”

Softer, fluffier natural snow falls on this icy surface and can become a problem.

“Every course needs artificial snow these days,” said Bernhard Russi, the designer of the Beijing Olympic alpine courses, in 2017. “There is not much snowfall, which, it seems a bit ridiculous, but that’s fine. If you have a lot of snow you’re still in trouble [clearing it].”

In both Yanqing and Zhangjiakou, workers shoveled and blew snow from the courses and surrounding areas. In Zhangjiakou, visibility and wind were also potential issues.

Snow continued to fall steadily in both regions as of 10:15 a.m. local time and may continue throughout the day in Yanqing. At least 2 inches have already fallen, with up to four more inches expected over the next 24 hours, according to forecasts.

Temperatures hover between the low teens in Yanqing and dropped to 5 degrees Fahrenheit in Zhangjiakou.

This story will be updated.

Snow falls on the Olympic Village near the Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Center during the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing on February 13, 2022. (Yahoo Sports)

Snow falls on the Olympic Village near the Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Center during the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing on February 13, 2022. (Yahoo Sports)

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