Alpine Skiing – Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Men’s Downhill Training – Jeongseon Alpine Centre – Pyeongchang, South Korea – February 8, 2018 – Manuel Osborne Paradis of Canada trains. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
9:36 PM 02/08/2018
The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang are here, and although the Opening Ceremony doesn’t air until 8 PM ET on Friday, there have already been some mishaps.
According to some athletes and course officials already over in Korea, some skiers have already been forced to toss their skis before competing. Temperatures are dipping so low in Pyeongchang that skis are rendered unusable.
A course worker told Reuters, “You can’t do anything about it but with the cold temperatures, the snow adheres to the ski base and twists it.”
Even the Austrians are having trouble. Alpine skier Marcel Hirscher — who’s expected to medal this year — explained exactly what’s happening to Olympians’ skies.
“Every run is a different pair of skis, but it’s not because of hard conditions but the cold conditions. Snow crystals get really sharp when temperatures go to -20 degrees and the base burns. It’s the same as lighting fire and burning your base because the snow crystals get such sharp edges,” Hirscher said.
And when you’re competing at this level, you’re probably gonna want every little advantage you can get. A few ice crystals could mean the difference between silver and gold.
Olympic officials are doing all they can to help athletes out in the meantime. They’re running water through slalom courses to try and prevent freezing and save as many Olympic grade skis as possible.
A little water isn’t exactly going to help the athletes and spectators though. The Olympic Stadium in Pyeongchang has an open roof with no central heat or outdoor thermal sources. Add a wind chill factor to that and it’s not exactly looking balmy for the spectators.
— Scott Russell (@CBCScottRussell) February 6, 2018
Six people were recently treated for hypothermia while attending a concert at the stadium and a recent temperature gauge reported it was -3 degrees Fahrenheit there this morning. It’s too late and too expensive to try and install any outdoor heat sources, so for now everyone will have to bundle up and hope for the best.
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