America’s Mikaela Shiffrin will have to wait until Thursday to kick off her bid for multiple Olympic medals after the opening women’s giant slalom was postponed Monday because of strong winds.
“Due to strong winds and the weather forecast, today’s giant slalom is postponed,” FIS announced.
It was rescheduled for Thursday, with the two legs to be raced either side of the men’s downhill, FIS confirmed.
The blue riband downhill was also postponed Sunday because of high winds and an unfavourable weather forecast which saw the cancellation of Monday’s downhill training for the men’s combined event.
The forecast for the Yongpyong course, where the women’s giant slalom would have been held, was for another bitterly cold day on Monday, with temperatures of -16 degrees Celsius (3.2 Fahrenheit).
That will be accompanied by winds gusting at up to 18m peer second, lending a truly glacial chill.
“The weather forecast is not great in terms of wind,” Atle Skaardal, chief race director for women’s FIS races, admitted Sunday as he ran through initial planning for the giant slalom.
At the Jeongseon course used for speed events, the winds were so strong that the gondola used to take racers and officials up the mountain could not run for safety reasons.
The women are also reliant on a gondola, the 3.7km-long Rainbow lift.
The opening giant slalom was to be followed by Shiffrin’s slalom title defence on Wednesday and the super-G on Saturday, with the downhill, combined and team events to come in the second week of competition.
The 22-year-old Shiffrin could realistically target four of five medals at the Games, but will face stiff opposition from the likes of France’s Tessa Worley, the reigning world giant slalom champion.
“I’m a little surprised,” Worley said of the postponement.
“They told us that the Olympic giant slalom was going to be held. I was really stoked for it.
“No matter how windy it was outside, I was ready.”
Worley, who was also crowned world GS champion in 2013, added: “The decision has been quickly taken. We’ll just get back to the Olympic village as quickly as possible.”
Romain Velez, head coach of the French women’s team, said snow conditions were “very good”.
“But there’s an enormous amount of wind. It was dangerous because it was moving the gates around.
“It was a wise decision,” Velez said.
“We were expecting to experience a tough day. Finally they decided quite early on to postpone it.
“We’ll take our foot off the pedal and head off straight away to prepare to come back when the race is rescheduled.”
Mark McMorris said on Monday that his bronze medal was “a miracle” after the inspirational Canadian climbed onto the Olympic podium just 11 months on from a near-fatal snowboarding accident.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed McMorris’s “tenacity” and “courage” as the 24-year-old drew praise following his success in the slopestyle event at the Pyeongchang Winter Games on Sunday.
McMorris was fighting for his life in a medically induced coma in March 2017, after breaking 17 bones and suffering a collapsed lung and ruptured spleen when he slammed into a tree while out on his snowboard with friends.
He somehow survived and in his comeback to competition, a big air World Cup in Beijing in November, he triumphed.
Then on Sunday he added bronze to the one he won at Sochi four years ago to seal a stunning return from near-death.
“To land a good run and stand on the podium again, it definitely feels special,” said McMorris.
“It’s definitely a miracle and I’m really thankful.”
McMorris, raised on the flatlands of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, tends not to look too far ahead these days but admits that psychologically he is not over the traumatic events of 11 months ago.
“I was so close to not being able to snowboard again and nothing brings me the joy that snowboarding does,” he said.
“I just want to keep having success in competition and get back into the backcountry and face that fear again and enjoy that with my buddies.”
Within the snowboarding fraternity McMorris has long been well known, winning multiple X Games titles, but his recovery from his deathbed has brought him far greater fame now.
“It’s such a cool thing that people are backing the story, you can’t force that on people,” he said.
“At the time I wish it hadn’t happened, but now it’s so cool that so many people have reached out and said, ‘You’ve helped me through this part of my life’ or motivated me, or whatever it may be.
“I’m glad I can play that role and feel lucky to be in the position I’m in, being able to inspire others.”
American snowboarding sensation Chloe Kim had one thing on her mind after she nailed top score in Olympic halfpipe qualifying with a jaw-dropping display Monday – a well-deserved ice cream.
The high-flying 17-year-old was treated like a rock star by enthusiastic local fans because of her Korean heritage and confirmed her status as the gold medal favourite in Pyeongchang with a high total of 95.50 points.
China’s Liu Jiayu qualified second with 87.75 ahead of Japan’s Haruna Matsumoto (84.25).
“I want my ice cream!” screamed Kim after an acrobatic second run greeted with oohs and aahs by a packed crowd.
It might have been brutally cold and blustery, with a wind chill of minus 20 degrees Celsius (-4F), but Kim said: “I really like vanilla Swiss almond – but I’ll be okay with the mango sorbet.”
Looking forward to Tuesday’s final, Kim added: “I was really nervous but I’m always more nervous during qualis (qualifying) so tomorrow I can really focus on what I want to do.”
Long, bleached-blonde hair poking out from behind her visor, Kim was in a class of her own, executing a string of eye-popping spins and loop-the-loop tricks.
“I don’t even know what I did,” joked Kim, whose parents come from South Korea and who has been adopted by locals as one of their own.
“That second run felt perfect. I’ve been really trying to clean up all the little details and I think I did that so I’m really excited.”
Korean fans screaming her name jostled to take photos of Kim as she trudged to waiting journalists after her second run.
“This is the best scenario ever,” she said. “I’m so grateful to be out here and represent the US in the country my family came from.”
Dangerous gusts that caused havoc in the women’s slopestyle final and forced the postponement of the women’s giant slalom periodically sent puffs of snow swirling across the top of the halfpipe run.
But it had little effect on the effervescent Kim.
“The pipe’s been so good so I’m thankful the conditions have been so amazing,” smiled the four-time X Games champion, who might have challenged for gold in Sochi four years ago – if she hadn’t been too young to compete.
“My goal here was to land every run I do in the contest and I’ve landed two so far, so three to go!”
Despite tearing it up in qualifying Kim admitted she wasn’t sure whether her biggest fan – her Korea-based grandmother – had been in the crowd.
But she revealed the family matriarch would be rocking some trendy sports gear if and when she turns up.
“My grandma’s in Seoul – she might be here,” said Kim.
“But I gave her some stuff I got from the opening ceremony. I gave her some Nike gear and she was really excited – so grandma, stay warm for me!”