Endangering Olympians?

Extreme weather wreaks havoc as organisers deny athletes in danger

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Severe weather conditions create terror games

By Diane Cooke

Earthquakes, minus 19C temperatures, blasting winds and even a fire warning are setting the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics apart as the terror games.

An earthquake triggered an alert and high winds disrupted competition at the event on Sunday, as officials warned of a severe freeze and urged fans to wrap up warm.

After a bitterly cold first night of competition, a shallow 4.6-magnitude earthquake jolted the eastern portion of South Korea overnight, prompting warnings on mobile phones.

Early on Sunday, ski officials were forced to postpone the showpiece men's downhill until Thursday as buffeting winds made the high-speed slope too dangerous for competition.

Later, the women's slopestyle snowboarding also fell victim to the wind, as the qualifying session was scrapped with riders going straight into the final on Monday.

It comes after the first ski jumping final finished more than an hour behind schedule, past midnight on Saturday, as competitors were held up by swirling winds.

And as if that wasn't enough to contend with, an alert warning of a high risk of fire - given the dry, windy weather - also flashed up on mobile phones on Sunday.

But the extreme conditions and hazardous crosswinds didn't hamper Jamie Anderson's chances in Monday's women's slopestyle final.

Anderson’s first run, posted a score of 83.00 and was enough on a blustery morning at the Phoenix Snow Park that saw only five of 25 finalists make it through their opening attempt without a fall.

The windswept carnage continued on the second run when only four competitors made it through unscathed with all but eight wiping out completely. Two of them, Canada’s Laurie Bloun (76.33) and Finland’s Enni Rukajärvi (75.38), posted scores that earned them silver and bronze respectively.

“I’m feeling so happy,” Anderson said. “I’ve gone through so much this last year just preparing for the Games and defending the gold is definitely not an easy position to be in.

“The conditions were not ideal but it changes so quick. When we were practising and even earlier this morning when we all got there, it was really bad and they did delay it and did their best. I think there’s a lot of mixed feelings.

The harsh cold will come as no surprise to local residents as PyeongChang is considered the coldest city at its latitude, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist SungHyun Do.

However, the good news is that temperatures from today into the weekend are expected to be several degrees above normal with temperatures near 5 C (40-41 F) on the warmest days.

Much of the week is expected to be dry with just a small chance for a rain or snow shower on Wednesday.

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