Men’s alpine downhill postponed for safety


The men’s alpine skiing downhill competition at Whistler Creekside, scheduled for 11:45 a.m. PT, has been postponed until Monday due to poor weather conditions.

Alpine officials determined the Whistler slopes were too soft as a result of rain and warm-temperatures, making the course too dangerous for high-speed competition.

The decision is likely to cost Canadian alpine skier Manuel Osborne-Paradis the chance to become the first Canadian athlete to win Olympic gold on home soil.

Due to bad weather conditions leading up to the Games, none of the men have been able to complete adequate training sessions. Paradis, who has trained on the course consistently over the year,  is in an advantageous position heading into the event Monday.

“When the light is bad, it’s very difficult to know all the ripples and rolls and the key points on the course, and get to know them on a consistent basis,” 1992 alpine gold medallist Kerrin Lee-Gartner told

“But the Canadian cowboys — led by Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Robbie Dixon in training — they know the hill and it has shown in their training runs that they’re ready for this.”

Organizers made the decision to postpone the medal event hours before it was scheduled to take place. The International Ski Federation (FIS) has announced a start time of 10:30 a.m. PT/1:30 p.m. ET, Monday.

This is the second event postponed in as many days on the Whistler hills. The women’s super-combined, set to take place Sunday, was called off Friday night.

Women’s training sessions for Friday and Saturday were also cancelled, but officials expect training to resume Sunday. Only one of the six training runs scheduled for the men and women have been completed.

In women’s training on Thursday, American skier Stacey Cook lost control on the slippery hill and crashed into the safety net at high-speed, before the session was cut short due to dangerous conditions.

It turned out to be the best bad news of these Olympic Winter Games.

Although the postponement comes as no surprise given the warm temperatures and proximity to the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver officials are proceeding with extra caution following the tragic death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili.

The 21-year-old crashed and died Friday after losing control on the ultra-fast track, his body flying off his sled and into an unprotected steel pole.

Officials have since made changes to the luge track and men’s training runs resumed Saturday morning.

“Based on these findings the race director, in consultation with the FIL, made the decision to reopen the track following a raising of the walls at the exit of curve 16 and a change in the ice profile,” said a spokesperson for the International Luge Federation, in a statement released Friday night.

“This was done as a preventative measure, in order to avoid that such an extremely exceptional accident could occur again.”

Luge officials have decided to move the men’s starting position further down the track to the same ramp where the women begin from. Officials told the Associated Press the decision to do so was made in light of the “emotional component” of athletes following Friday’s fatal accident.

About this article

By: Dan Toman
Posted: Feb 13 2010 4:38 pm
Filed under: Winter Games