Winter Olympics: Whipping winds wreak havoc in Pyeongchang

Winter Olympics: PyeongChang stadium tour
Winter Olympics: PyeongChang stadium tour


    Winter Olympics: PyeongChang stadium tour


Winter Olympics: PyeongChang stadium tour 02:34

(CNN)Athletes will have braced themselves for the brutal cold in Pyeongchang, but it's the whipping wind that has hampered races in recent days and raised concerns over competitors' safety.

Temperatures in South Korea are registering around -11˚C (12˚F).
When combined with wind chill, however, the mercury plummets dramatically to -26˚C (-14˚F) degrees.
While it's not uncommon for Alpine sports to face high winds and excessive snow, the extreme conditions in Pyeongchang have made staging events increasingly challenging.
    Officials have called-off several competitions including the women's giant slalom which was due to take place Monday at the Yongpyong Alpine Center.
    The weather could become "a real problem for the organizers because this is forecast to last for at least the next four days," CNN's Christina Macfarlane reported from the Games.
    The women's giant slalom has been rescheduled for Thursday, according to the US Ski and Snowboard Team -- the same day as the postponed men's downhill race, which was delayed on Sunday.
    Olympic downhill is traditionally one of the Games' biggest draws and this year's competition is likely the last chance for Olympic veterans like Aksel Lund Svindal and Lindsey Vonn to win gold.
    Ninety-eight-percent of the snow on the course is artificial as the weather is too cold for the snow to fall. But some athletes will prefer "fake snow" on the course as it keeps the conditions more consistent.
    One race that did proceed on Monday was the final of the ladies' snowboard slopestyle. Bone-chilling gusts of wind tore through the mountains as American snowboarder Jamie Anderson managed to successfully retain the title, while Laurie Blouin from Canada won silver and Finland's Enni Rukajarvi took home bronze.
    Even after a delayed start, windy conditions at Phoenix Snow Park had a noticeable and sometime farcical effect on many of the competitors, with most failing to complete a single clean run after being blown off course by intense crosswinds.

    Athletes' safety questioned

    Norway's Silje Norendal's hair blows in the strong winds during the women's snowboard slopestyle final event on Monday.
    Sung Baik-you, spokesman for the local organizing committee said Monday that the winds had been very strong, making the competition difficult but that the safety of the athletes was their top priority leading to some events being rescheduled.
    The International Ski Federation also issued a statement on Monday in response to athletes, coaches and fans who complained about the strong winds which made conditions "dangerous" and made it tough for some athletes to perform at their best.
    FIS said it "would never stage a competition" if the safety of athletes could not be assured.
    The organization added the weather was deemed stable enough for the competition to continue after a 30-minute delay where officials monitored conditions and a 45-minute training session without problems.
    However, some competitors have come to the IOC's defense, praising organizers for their handling of the events.
    After qualification for the snowboard ladies' halfpipe final at the Phoenix Snow Park on Monday, American Chloe Kim described the conditions as "amazing" while Emily Arthur from Australia called the atmosphere "insane."
    "This is the best pipe I've ever ridden," Arthur said.
    On Sunday, Australian snowboarder Tess Coady lamented the conditions many are facing after suffering a serious injury during a practice session.
    "Well Olympics came to a screeching holt today for me... got picked up in the wind on the bottom jump in practice and my acl was not a big fan! Thanks for all the lovin everyone...brb," she posted on Instagram.