ROSA KHUTOR, Russia, Feb 7 (Reuters) - The 2.5-km loop at the Laura Olympic biathlon venue was changed slightly on Friday after the Norwegian team found it was too short.
“We added 40 metres per loop,” the sport’s technical delegate at the Sochi Games, Max Cobb, explained. “We had an issue with the length but we made a change, which takes care of it. We’re all set.”
Stephane Bouthiaux, the head of the French team, told reporters at the end of Friday’s training session that it was Norway’s athletes that made the discovery.
“It was Norway who discovered the problem after they realised their women almost clocked the same times on the 2km and on the 2.5-km loops.”
Bouthiaux then checked the course himself and agreed it was too short.
The change will not affect the men’s sprint on Saturday because it will be raced on the 2km loop, but it will impact Sunday’s women’s sprint as well as the women’s mass start, the men’s pursuit and the relays.
Bouthiaux said there had been examples of courses being changed shortly before an event.
“It can happen, notably because of the snow conditions,” Bouthiaux added. “If a downhill is too dangerous because it is icy, for instance, the course can be changed.
“It happened last year (in Sochi for a World Cup event) when 10 of the first 15 guys had crashed on a descent.”
On the World Cup events, International Biathlon Union officials check the course four days before an event but Olympic events are under the International Olympic Committe’s (IOC) jurisdiction.
The problem was only discovered on Thursday, after the IOC referees landed in Sochi overnight.
“It’s much too late and it creates issues,” said Cobb of the referees’ arrival. (Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Peter Rutherford)