February 15, 2014 / 2:55 PM / 4 years ago

Nordic Combined: It's like the Summer Olympics, say sweaty athletes

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - More used to biting chill and snowy climes, Nordic Combined athletes sweated uncomfortably at ski jump training on Saturday as temperatures at the Sochi Winter Olympics hit a relatively balmy 18 degrees Celsius (64 Fahrenheit).

“It is so hot here, I feel like it’s the Summer Olympics,” said Akito Watabe of Japan, who won silver in the normal hill event on Wednesday.

Athletes in Nordic Combined take a jump and then race each other over a 10km cross-country course. The men will compete in the large hill event on Monday.

Bill Demong, defending Olympic gold medalist on the large hill, said the athletes’ aerodynamic suits were designed to work in much colder temperatures.

“We’re enjoying the weather here on the beach other than the fact that our suits ... are quite hot. It’s more or less like wearing a wet suit around,” he told reporters.

“So you get to the bottom of the hill and peel down as quickly as possible right now.”

Demong said the hot weather would also affect the artificial snow on the cross-country course and predicted organizers would have to add plenty of salt.

Japan's Akito Watabe (front) and his compatriot Hideaki Nagai practise during a training session for the Nordic combined individual 10km event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, at the RusSki Gorki Ski Jumping Center in Rosa Khutor, February 15, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

This means athletes would have to wax their skis carefully to avoid picking up salt and dirt, he added.

Magnus Moan of Norway said he had never competed in such hot temperatures in a winter event.

“This is better weather now than we have in my home town in the summertime. So we get winter and summer at the same time,” he said.

Some athletes seemed more relaxed about the weather.

“I just need some palm trees and a margarita,” said six-time U.S. Olympian Todd Lodwick, who like many athletes quickly stripped to the waist after jumping.

Lodwick said the heat was not a factor, noting that “we hardly wear anything in the cross country anyway, regardless of the temperatures”.

Norway’s Magnus Krog also said the cross country race should be tolerable.

“It’s only 10km, so if you are hydrated and drink lots of water before the start, you should be OK,” he said.

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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