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Tuesday February 18, 2014 MYT 12:37:02 AM
Tuesday February 18, 2014 MYT 12:37:42 AM
by alan baldwin
ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - The Olympic women's giant slalom risks turning into a two-day affair, rather than the usual two legs, after officials warned teams on Monday that rain, fog and rising temperatures threatened the schedule.
The start of Tuesday's first leg was brought forward by 90 minutes to 0930 local (0530 GMT) from 1100 to try and beat the weather, but the forecast was for rain all day and it turning increasingly heavy.
The second leg has been rescheduled for 1300 local.
Women's race director Atle Skaardal prepared team captains at a meeting for the possibility that the race might run over, as was the case in Vancouver four years ago due to similar weather problems.
"In case we should be able to run the first run, but not the second run tomorrow, we will then start the second run at the next possibility," he said.
"So we are not cancelling the race totally tomorrow if the first run is working out as we hope for but we can't do the second."
Monday's official free skiing was cancelled to save the hill and softening snow from needless damage, with the Alpine centre above the resort of Rosa Khutor shrouded in cloud and fog.
Some biathlon and snowboard cross events were postponed on Monday due to poor visibility.
The Alpine skiing speed events have been completed, under blue skies and bright sunshine for the most part, with only the men's and women's giant slaloms and slaloms - four technical races in all - left for the final week.
The women's giant slalom has 90 starters, including violinist Vanessa Mae representing Thailand who is due to leave the hut 87th behind skiers from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Togo and Morocco.
Skaardal said the change in the weather had been a big surprise and the next few days were not looking promising, although workers had done a good job preparing the piste.
"It's not icy but I think the hill is in good shape and we should be quite OK for tomorrow's race if the weather will help us a bit," he said.
U.S. women's team head coach Alex Hoedlmoser, who has a world slalom champion in Mikaela Shiffrin, said skiers were used to weather delays.
"We prepare like there is one (a race)," he told Reuters. "Everything else we'll see on the hill tomorrow.
"Conditions (on Monday) were soft and it was wet and foggy out there. Not great. It's a situation we run into in the winter probably 15 times. We just have bad weather and then it's just going to be a jury decision."
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