Accessibility links

High Winds Postpone Women's Downhill - 2002-02-12

It was a day of waiting and then a day of disappointment at the women's downhill ski event at the Winter Olympics, which had to be postponed because of high winds.

Winds that were gusting from 25 to 32 kilometers per hour at the top of the course resulted in the first weather-related problem of these Olympics. The women's downhill race was scheduled to start at 1000 UTC local time and was delayed one hour until 1100 UTC local time, then delayed another hour until noon before it was finally postponed.

Because of adverse weather forecasts for the rest of the day, the jury determined there was an issue of safety and fairness for the skiers so the race was rescheduled for Tuesday.

Many of the fans I spoke with, like Denise Edgar from the midwest city of Saint Louis, who traveled long distances here to see the race, took it all in stride. "Actually I'm okay with it. The weather's great here and I'm glad they didn't take any chances with the skiers, and I think the crowd handled it really well, and people just have to learn how to deal with it," she says. "I think September 11 [the terror attacks] made a big deal [impact] on people tolerating each other better. I think America is really ready for tolerance, and that's what I think."

Visitors here from other countries seem to share that feeling. Even after going through extensive security checks, an elderly couple from Iceland I spoke with did not seem upset by the women's downhill postponement.

Tour leader Randy Spurlock from Denver, Colorado, said he was fortunate those in his group were not complaining, but he felt sorry for them. "We have a group of 20 here and that group of 20 was about a $75,000 investment, and to come to Salt Lake, it's beautiful out, the weather is gorgeous, to miss out on a downhill event like this is tragic for us," he says. "This group, we're only in town until Wednesday morning and we have the ski jump scheduled in the morning, so we've got a conflict where we can't attend the remake [rescheduled event] and then we're leaving town Wednesday, so we're out of luck."

Mr Spurlock say the group has the choice as to whether to stick together or split up. "The worst thing that would happen would be you'd make your choice to come to the downhill and they'd cancel it again. And you know the other problem is, is that we're going to the ski jumping in the morning, and what if it's windy there?" he says. "If it's windy there, then we'd end up getting shut out of that too, because you know if they're going that high in the air and the wind's blowing, they are going to cancel that. I guess that's the chance you take when you come to the Olympics."

Quite a number of fans who would not be able to attend the rescheduled women's downhill race said they would not try to re-sell their tickets. Even if they cost as much as $200, they wanted to keep them as souvenirs.