Snow delays men’s super-combined race; women’s training called off

After teasing Olympic officials with sun and clear skies for one day, the weather was up to its old tricks Tuesday, forcing postponement of the men’s super-combined ski race.

WHISTLER, B.C. — After teasing Olympic officials with sun and clear skies for one day, the weather was up to its old tricks Tuesday, forcing postponement of the men’s super-combined ski race.

A night of heavy, wet snow resulted in the race being moved to Sunday. A women’s downhill training run was also cancelled.

“We have made some adjustments to the calendar so we can achieve our goal of hosting safe, fair races for the athletes here in Whistler,” said Peter Bosinger, the alpine sport manager for the Vancouver Olympic Games Organizing Committee.

The postponement came one day after the men’s downhill race, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, was held Monday. Switzerland’s Didier Defago won the race, with Erik Guay of Mont-Tremblant, Que., the top Canadian finishing fifth.

The women’s downhill event is scheduled for Wednesday, followed by a super-combined on Thursday and a super-giant slalom on Saturday. The men will race a super-G on Friday.

“It’s pretty clear we’ve had some challenging weather here,” said Bosinger. “We want to make sure that we put together a safe and fair race track. To do that we need time to prepare the race tracks.”

The forecast calls for falling temperatures and clear skies beginning Wednesday. That will harden the snow. Right now the bottom of the race course looks like a giant Slurpee has been thrown on the hill.

The once well thought out race schedule for the Games has turned into a giant jigsaw puzzle, with several pieces still missing. So far three races have been postponed and training runs re-arranged.

Officials with the International Ski Federation have done some creative thinking. One lone official men’s downhill training run was held on a shortened course. The only women’s downhill training was divided in two and sandwiched around the men’s race.

Despite the confusion Gunter Hujara, the men’s race director for FIS, remains calm.

“There is no panic situation,” the gruff German said in an interview. “Tomorrow we will have good conditions. Temperatures will cool down.

“The ladies downhill will be on time tomorrow.”

Hujara said the snowboard and freestyle skiing events at Cyprus Mountain near Vancouver also impact the race schedule at Whistler.

The decision to postpone the men’s combined was made at around 4 a.m. Tuesday in hopes of stopping the first busloads of fans from leaving Vancouver.