One of the flagship events of the Winter Olympics, the men’s downhill, is under threat from expected high winds.
The world’s fastest men on two skis are expected to take to the start gate on Sunday but winds are forecast to reach as high as 35mph, which would cause the gondolas taking the skiers up the mountain to be closed and for the event to be cancelled.
A proposal to move the racing forward by 24 hours has been rejected by the International Olympic Committee but, as one of the Games’ top-tier events, it could yet be moved to a later date in the programme.
Arctic conditions are also expected to hit tomorrow night’s opening ceremony with temperatures reaching -10C.
The American team are intending to come in wearing heated padded jackets while organisers are putting in place procedures to cope with the extreme weather conditions.
Windshields were being installed and massive heaters put in place for spectators, athletes and officials as well as warmed seat cushions and blankets to face the elements at the Alpensia Ski Resort.
Downhill race director Markus Waldner warned that, to date, the weather forecasting had been “highly accurate”, meaning a potential postponement of skiing’s blue-riband event.
He said: “We are looking ahead because we are facing challenging conditions from Sunday. We discussed moving the race forward to Saturday with the IOC but for many, many reasons, this is not an option.
“This is an IOC decision, we can only offer them a technical solution from a sporting position but they have made their decision.”