The downhill was canceled, the biathletes were blown away, eddies at the hill: the wind caused problems at the Olympics on the first weekend. Anger is programmed.
The downhillers gambled in vain, the biathletes scolded, and the snowboarders even “panic” spread. The Beijing Wind Games demand everything from the athletes – and cause a lot of frustration.
Because it blows almost constantly on the Olympic mountain Xiaohaituo, ski star Mikaela Shiffrin sees her gold mission in danger. “Even if you do everything right: A gust of wind – and that’s it!” She said of the situation in Yanqing.
Things are no better in Zhangjiakou, 130 km away. “This place,” said Norwegian Olympic champion Tarjei Bö, “is not made for biathlon.” Not even for ski jumping, not even for snowboarding. Instead of fair competitions, there’s Chinese roulette.
Wind gust brings Althaus to the gold medal
A “higher power”, as the former national coach Werner Schuster called the wind, prevented Katharina Althaus from winning the Olympics on the normal hill – she was left with silver as a consolation.
Annika Morgan was first afraid of slopestyle, where the boarders jumped over obstacles, sometimes meters high in the air, then “really panicked”.
Not everyone reacts as relaxed to the adverse conditions as Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, the top favorite for the downhill. As his race on Sunday was postponed hour by hour, he calmly played cards.
But the “poker game” on the Xiaohaituo, as the German head coach Christian Schwaiger called the hanging game, didn’t work out: the first Alpine competition had to be postponed by one day.
It may not have been the last change. “The topic will certainly accompany us for the next two weeks,” Schwaiger believes. Race director Markus Waldner admitted: “It’s a difficult mountain, it’s never windless here.”
Wind speeds of 50 to 60 km/h were measured on Sunday; a safe and fair descent was impossible.
Biathletes complain about impossible shooting conditions
Shiffrin has already experienced in training how the wind feels at racing speed. “Sometimes it’s like a tornado that you completely lose yourself in,” she said, prophesying: “In these games, a lot will depend on luck.”
Biathletes have already experienced this. “At some point, as a shooter, you no longer know where you are actually shooting,” reported Benedikt Doll after the mixed relay.
Even the outrageously expensive ice rink below the ski slope is not spared. “Sometimes nothing happens, sometimes something comes up,” said toboggan world champion Felix Loch and complained: “Wind isn’t fun, you can’t do anything.”
The wind, summed up ski trainer Schwaiger, “is a huge topic everywhere. You have to question why you’re driving a major event here.” His protégé Josef Ferstl therefore made an announcement in the direction of the Ring Order IOC: “One should learn from mistakes.”