Flashback: Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010- Unseasonably warm temperatures left olympic officials figuring out how to have enough snow for the athletes. This was the WINTER Olympics after all. This also left the athletes figuring out how to navigate the man made snow conditions and all of the rain.
Doesn’t sound like a ton of fun right? Well luckily for us (the fans) both the coordinators and the athletes were able to navigate the mess and still left us with a ton of exciting action from the mountain.
Flash-forward to the FIS freeski and snowboard competition in Sochi Russia 2013: Roughly 26 miles into the mountains outside of the city of Sochi, in the area known as Krasnaya Polyana where the Olympic freestyle ski and snowboard courses are being built, recent rain and high temperatures have virtually stripped the venues down to the dirt. On the third day of competition, it was rain. And while this wasn’t a competition for a gold medal, it was still a big deal, for not only does ever competition count towards olympic qualifying but riders who made the long trek (most took anywhere from 10-37 hours) were stuck riding a slush filled pipe.
First day skiing the Russian half tube! It was slightly angrier then most.. instagr.am/p/VrDAk4HRmh/
Wet’n’Wild Spring Break 2013: Russia edition
Wet day up in Russia. Quals tomorrow. Lets hope everything comes together for the contest. Conditions wise.
— Louie Vito (@louievito) February 12, 2013
— Greg Bretz (@gregbretzz) February 11, 2013
No Sochi, just no.
What does this mean?
Well, with Russia already reporting that Sochi will be the warmest city to ever host a Winter Olympics, it means we may have a repeat of the Vancouver Winter Olympics“no snow” debacle. From an athlete standpoint, that sucks. While the Vancouver games was still exciting for many different reasons (like the crazy hockey gold medal game that the outside weather really had no impact on), the bad conditions can quickly creep in the heads of athletes. If they can keep their speed going into the flat bottom of the pipe, they can’t get the amplitude. If they can’t get the amplitude, they can’t throw the same tricks they want. If they have to deviate from their training runs, it will just be one big mess with greater potential for injury and disgruntled athletes. That may seem like a bit of a stretch because the IOC is a pretty well oiled machine and these athletes are the best in the world. But still, it is a possibility with poor conditions. And from a fan standpoint, it sucks even more. You wanna see an athlete throw his/her best stuff on the biggest stage there is, period.
Coupled with poor weather dictating the competition, the set up will also dictate the competition. In past FIS competitions riders have definitely not been ones to mince their words about how they feel about the course. Some would go as far to say that these athletes are spoiled with where they normally ride at events like X-Games. Ideal conditions and tons of experience building pipes and slopestyle courses allow for the best riding. The problem with that though is that every Olympic city is different and every course set up (while fundamentally similar) needs to be different to accomodate for space and conditions. While this may be true, athletes still expect the best if they are expected to show that they are the best.
How can you not want to pick a location with enough room to make a stellar course that is big enough for a Mark McMorris to throw the triple cork during the inaugural slopestyle Olympic event?
Recent FIS competitins were big reasons why Ski Halfpipe and Slopestyle added to the Olympics. While Ski Halfpipe should have been a no brainer (they use the EXACT same pipe was the snowboarders), Slopestyle was added in part for its feasibility but mostly because of its popularity. Despite the recent unfavorable decision of the IOC to drop wrestling from the line up, the IOC actually does take great consideration in the sports of the Olympics (whether they are right or wrong). This FIS competition in Sochi was supposed to allow the riders to get used to riding the ground in Sochi. Well with the rain and poor conditions, that’s basically what they did, well with a ton of slush on top. Most riders seemed to put on their press face and dance around the blunt fact that the conditions sucked. And you most definitely won’t find complaints from the big winners of the weekend, Clark and Hiraoka in snowboard pipe and Faivre and Yater-Wallace in ski pipe. Sure, they can compete in poor conditions because they are the best in the world. But nobody wants to watch them try to dominate the courses in slush. While nobody was complaining, none of them failed to mention that it was definitely warm and should make for interesting conditions in the future.
The predicted weather forecast for the 2014 Winter Olympics? Probably cloudy with a high chance of rain. They had better pack their best raincoat and a ton of wax because it’s going to be a wet one. Really Sochi? Really? I do not want to watch Shaun White look for the Olympic three-peat while singing in the rain..
Get your stuff together Sochi!