Women's giant slalom switched to Thursday

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - A second attempt to get the Alpine skiing underway at the Pyeongchang Olympics failed on Monday when the women’s giant slalom was postponed because of high winds, adding to the scheduling woes of race organizers.

Alpine Skiing – Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Women’s Giant Slalom – Yongpyong Alpine Centre - Pyeongchang, South Korea – February 12, 2018 - The Olympic rings are seen as the women's giant slalom at the Winter Olympics is postponed due to high winds at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

The race at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre was later moved to Thursday with an earlier start time to accommodate the men’s downhill at the Jeongseon venue.

The downhill, the first scheduled event of the program, had also been moved to Thursday because of high winds at the Jeongseon mountain on Sunday.

The event had been much anticipated as the first in American Mikaela Shiffrin’s bid for multiple gold medals in Pyeongchang.

“It’s a bummer that we’re not able to race today. But with the training block I’ve had, I’m prepared and feeling good,” she said.

“I’ll use this time to continue to train and refocus on Wednesday’s slalom race. We have a great gym and space to eat and take plenty of naps, so I’ll use this time to recharge.”

The winds, which are gusting up to 39 knots (72 kilometers per hour), are forecast to continue through Tuesday, preventing the gondolas which get the skiers to the top of the mountain from running and threatening the safety of competitors.

Women’s chief race director Atle Skaardal had been confident of getting the giant slalom underway despite the challenges given the Yongpyong gondola was less exposed.

Organisers had prepared an alternate start position lower down the mountain, away from the strongest winds at the peak, but their efforts were to no avail.

Disruption to the Alpine skiing at the Winter Olympics is not unusual and it is a rare Games where some re-jigging of the schedule is not necessary.

Running races on separate mountains on the same day is hardly ideal, however, especially when one, the men’s downhill, is the marquee event of Alpine skiing at the Games.

The men’s Super G at Jeongseon has already been switched to Friday, previously a rest day, to accommodate the downhill.

The first run of the giant slalom has been moved forward by 45 minutes to 9.30 am local time (0030 GMT) on Thursday with the second run starting at 1.15 pm, allowing a window clear for the men’s downhill to take center stage at 11 am.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Toby Davis/Greg Stutchbury