Heavy snow in Beijing delays Gu's push for second gold
Chinese freestyle skiing favorite Gu Ailing's tilt at her second gold medal has been delayed as the women's slope style qualifications on Sunday was postponed because of the heaviest snow Beijing has seen this year.
The competition has been moved to Monday. The final will be on the following day.
The men's slope style qualifications has also switched from Monday to Tuesday with the final on Wednesday.
Chinese skier Yang Shuorui will be joining Gu in Monday's qualifying event in Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province.
Snow has been falling since Saturday at the Zhangjiakou and Yanqing Alpine Skiing Center in Beijing, causing the rescheduling of a dozen skiing events. The second run of the men's giant slalom and a second women's downhill training run, both scheduled for Sunday, were canceled.
Italy's Luca de Aliprandini told AP news that "you can't see anything" after his first run of the giant.
The Beijng Meteorological Observatory issued a blue alert for heavy snow at 8:45am on Sunday, which was quickly upgraded to a yellow alert for snow storm at 12:55pm. An accumulated snowfall of 6 millimeters and above is expected in the city till 5am on Monday. Areas of Pinggu, Changping and Shunyi saw snowfall of over 10mm.
A yellow alert for heavy fog and icy roads has also been issued as the visibility could be less than 1,000 meters due to the heavy snow, even less than 500 meters in some areas.
The Beijing Winter Games almost entirely uses artificial snow to eliminate hazards for athletes.
Processed repeatedly by snowcats, artificial snow tends to be more dense, icier and harder, while natural snow can be quite light, powdery and fluffy, CCTV News reported.
Steady snowfall affects the climate and quality of the snow over the course, forcing athletes to make adjustments when preparing the skis.
Also, the accumulated loose fresh snow increases friction, making it challenging for events that rely on speed, such as downhill skiing.
Whipping wind and diminishing visibility also make it difficult for athletes to perform tricks, as of Sunday, especially for ski jumping.
Generally, a wind speed below 4 meter/second is optimal for ski jumping events, with no big changes in speed and direction, according to CGTN.
Therefore, wind shields are provided at the Genting Snow Park to protect athletes from injuries, and to minimize the possibilities of delays or call-offs.
However, it is quite common to postpone, cancel or reschedule competitions in the Winter Games due to weather conditions. Statistics show 19 of the past 23 Winter Games have seen competitions delayed or dates switched.
Snow clearing has been launched across the Chinese capital, Xinhua news agency reported.
On Saturday, staff at the racing sites spread out across the slopes, to clear the fluffy new-fallen snow and prepare the racing courses for competition.
More than 4,200 people, 715 vehicles and some 3,400 sets of facilities are ready in Beijing for snow clearing within the closed loops of the Winter Games, according to Chinanews.com.