Friday's forecast puts women's slalom in jeopardy

BY foxsports • February 26, 2010

Rain and fog forecast for the women's Olympic slalom Friday could jeopardize yet another Alpine event.

``For sure, we will have a tough day tomorrow,'' women's race director Atle Skaardal said Thursday night, explaining that rain hitting skiers' goggles would lead to poor visibility on the course.

He refused to discuss contingency plans if the two-run race is not completed Friday.

``We have to take it from there, and see what is possible,'' Skaardal said.

No Alpine event has ever been canceled altogether at a Winter Games.

Friday's race is supposed to be the next-to-last Alpine race of these Olympics, with the men's slalom Saturday. Officials have said they do not want to race Sunday, when the closing ceremony is scheduled.

Snow was predicted to begin falling in the wee hours of Friday, giving way to rain at noon. The first leg of Friday's event is scheduled for 10 a.m. PST, with the second leg at 1:30 p.m. PST.

``I'm not worried about the snow,'' Skaardal said. ``The problem tomorrow will be ... the visibility and rain.''

Bad weather has forced a series of postponements at Whistler. The two-run women's giant slalom was supposed to be completed Wednesday, but thick fog forced the second leg to be pushed to Thursday.

Because of snow, rain, fog and warm temperatures, one downhill training session after another was called off or shortened at the beginning of these Olympics. The start of actual competition was delayed by two days, forcing organizers to shuffle the program in an attempt to squeeze in every race.

Weather issues are nothing new to Alpine events at the Olympics, of course.

At the 2006 Turin Games, the women's super-G race was pushed back 24 hours, and the combined event was split over two days. The start of Alpine skiing at the 1998 Nagano Olympics was delayed for two days, and organizers wound up needing to shoehorn nine races into 10 days - even racing more than once in a single day. The men's and women's downhills were both postponed at the 1984 Sarajevo Games.

Hard by the Pacific Ocean, Whistler has been known to attract weather not necessarily conducive to skiing. For three consecutive World Cup seasons in the mid-1990s, the skiing circuit failed to get a single race off at the ritzy resort, which eventually was dropped from the calendar.

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