Winter Olympics: Heavy snowfall in Beijing causes disruption to alpine, freestyle skiing

winter olympics heavy snowfall in beijing causes disruption to alpine freestyle skiing scaled

Heavy snow has caused major disruption to the Winter Olympics schedule with temperatures set to plummet below -22C at the Beijing Games.

Several ski slopestyle events had to be pushed back a day because of the conditions at the Genting Snow Park.

The women’s freeski qualifications were postponed on Sunday because of heavy snow and poor visibility.

Winter Olympics: Heavy snowfall in Beijing causes disruption to alpine, freestyle skiing
The women’s freeski slopestyle qualification was due to start at 10:00 local time (02:00 GMT) on Sunday

Difficult conditions at the alpine skiing meant 33 of the 87 men’s giant slalom starters were unable to finish.

Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen, who finished fourth in the opening run, used an expletive when asked to describe how little he could see in the blustery snow at the National Alpine Skiing Centre in Yanqing.

More snow is forecast on Monday, with temperatures in the mountains set to drop further and reach -35C with windchill.

Winter Olympics: Heavy snowfall in Beijing causes disruption to alpine, freestyle skiing
Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen finished fourth in the first run of the men’s giant slalom, despite struggling to see in the conditions

Ironically, the difficulty caused by the fresh snow came after the Games had been criticised for being the first Winter Olympics to rely almost 100% on artificial snow.

Artificial snow used at Beijing 2022 “poses tough environmental questions” with more than 222 million litres of water needed to create snow conditions, ecological experts said last month.

The women’s freeski slopestyle runs – featuring GB’s Kirsty Muir and Katie Summerhayes – were pushed back to Monday.

Winter Olympics: Heavy snowfall in Beijing causes disruption to alpine, freestyle skiing
Heavy snowfall caused the alpine skiing events to be delayed

The top 12 qualify for the finals, which have been moved to Tuesday.

The men’s qualification, with James Woods going for GB, is now scheduled for Tuesday, with the finals on Wednesday.

In the alpine skiing, the second run of the men’s giant slalom was delayed by the snowfall and needed hours of maintenance on the track for the event to restart at 07:00 GMT.

A training run for the women’s downhill was also cancelled.

“The snow is a little uneven, so it’s quite aggressive in spots, a little slick,” said Kristoffersen.

“I think it was difficult for everyone.”

Winter Olympics: Heavy snowfall in Beijing causes disruption to alpine, freestyle skiing
Games volunteers play with a snowman during a break in the men’s giant slalom at the National Alpine Skiing Centre in Yanqing

On whether it was safe to race, he added: “Definitely. The light is more than skiable, that’s for sure, it just makes it difficult.”

Away from the mountains, there was heavy snow in central Beijing – which is unusual for the Chinese capital in February.

The city averages less than half an inch of snow in the month but was covered by a thick blanket on Sunday.

However, the downfall did not have an impact on the Games schedule in the city. Events including curling, ice hockey and speed skating took place in indoors arenas in the Beijing zone.