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Olympics | Ski Racing

Men’s downhill at Beijing Olympics postponed because of high winds

The finish area of the men's downhill ski race course at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games at the Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre in Yanqing, China.JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images

The first event of the Alpine skiing schedule at the Beijing Olympics, the men’s downhill, was postponed on Sunday because of strong wind that made it too dangerous to race.

The downhill now shifts to Monday, which already was the day for the women’s giant slalom, with Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States defending her Olympic gold from 2018. The downhill will be at the slope used for speed races at Yanqing Alpine Skiing Center, and the giant slalom will be about a half-mile away on the slope used for technical races.

At the top of the speed course, known as The Rock, the wind was whipping at 30 m.p.h., with gusts up to 40 m.p.h., when Sunday’s men’s race originally was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.

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The start was delayed three times for a total of three hours in the hope that the wind would relent. But eventually the decision was made at 1 p.m. local time in China to put it off to another day.

Wind was also an issue for Alpine skiing at the 2018 Pyongchang Games, where multiple races were postponed and the schedule was shuffled repeatedly.

Saturday’s third and final training session for the men was stopped after just three skiers because of wind. None of the world’s top racers had ever seen the course until the first training run on Thursday. The usual pre-Olympics test events were scrapped because of the coronavirus pandemic.