The marquee event of the men’s Alpine Olympic program at the Beijing Winter Games was postponed Sunday after high winds forced two hours of delays before organizers canceled it for the day.

Organizers were due to meet later Sunday to discuss when to fit the race into the program, with Monday the most likely option.

“Due to the present weather situation with the wind gust and the updated forecast — the jury together with the organizer have decided in the best interest of safety and fairness for the racers to delay today’s men’s Olympic downhill to another day,” organizers said in a statement.

Monday’s scheduled event is the women’s giant slalom, which will be held on the technical course adjacent to ‘The Rock’ speed course.

Similar wind in the upper and middle areas of the course had led to the cancellation of Saturday’s third training session after just three skiers had completed their run.

While no fans were able to attend the race, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach had arrived at the course, which is made from artificial snow, to watch the event.

Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, the favorite in the event, backed the decision but said skiers might have to cope with some degree of wind.

“We will see, we just have to be patient and make sure that we make the right decisions,” said the World Cup downhill leader.

“If we talk about our safety then we can’t do much about it. But if it is only just a little bit, so it is safe to ski, then we might just have to race with wind and take what we get.

“It is an outside sport, and we know about the wind and the things that can happen,” added Kilde, who hopes there will be less waiting around if a similar situation emerges.

“It is just a lot of lack of energy when you have to prepare for such a long day and then suddenly at 2 p.m. they have to make a decision. Let’s see if they can make a decision earlier in the future and hope for the best.”

French veteran Johan Clarey backed the decision. “I think the conditions were not safe for everyone, so security first,” said the 41-year-old.


Agency EFE, S.A. is a Spanish international news agency, the leading multimedia news agency in Spanish and the fourth largest wire service in the world after the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse. EFE was created in 1939 by Ramón Serrano Súñer, then Minister of the Interior of Spain.

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