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Fog postpones men's biathlon mass start

Men's snowboard cross finals also delayed

February 17, 2014
By CHRIS KNIGHT ( , Lake Placid News

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia - A thick fog has settled into the mountains here over the last 24 hours, forcing some Olympic events to be postponed.

The men's 15-kilometer mass start in biathlon was originally scheduled to take place Sunday at 7 p.m. Sochi time. It now won't take place until Tuesday.

Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid, wearing bib number 29, and Tim Burke of Paul Smiths, in bib 30, are the only Americans on the 30-person start list.

Article Photos

An athlete walks in a tunnel leading to the biathlon track at the Winter Olympics today in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. After days of warm weather at the Sochi Olympics, fog up in the mountains is causing an even bigger disturbance. Thick fog rolled in over the mountains in Krasnaya Polyana on Sunday night and was still lingering on Monday, and the limited visibility forced organizers to delay a biathlon race and cancel the seeding runs in a snowboard event.
(AP photo — Kirsty Wigglesworth)

The race was initially moved back an hour, then postponed to today at 10 a.m. due to the fog still enveloping the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center.

This morning the race was pushed back to 3:30 p.m., then postponed again until Tuesday at a time to be announced.

Competition jury member Fabrizio Curtaz of Italy said initial weather forecasts had said the fog would clear in this afternoon.

"The latest forecasts look different, and it seems that it might not clear up at all," he told the Olympic News Service.

The fog could also affect the time for tonight's women's 12.5-kilometer mass start, which is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. (10 a.m. EST). Whether that will happen remains to be seen.

The race pits the 30 best competitors against each other, as determined by their results from previous Olympic events or World Cup rankings. Saranac Lake's Annelies Cook will not compete. The only American in the race is Susan Dunklee of Vermont, wearing bib number 26.

The weather is not just affecting visibility; race officials say they have run into another problem at the Laura biathlon center.

"The salt on the tracks isn't working," Curtaz said. "They salted the whole course, but there seems to be no interaction with the snow."

The course was closed to athletes at 9 a.m. today so race officials could work on preparing the tracks for a possible competition later in the day.

The athletes returned to the Endurance Village, but their coaches waited around the stadium for further news.

"It's a very bad situation," said Canadian biathlon coach Matthias Ahrens. "The athletes were quite frustrated yesterday night, but adjusted themselves pretty fast to the new race schedule.

"They went to bed earlier and headed to the stadium early in the morning, but only then they learned the news that the race was postponed again, so we couldn't do anything else than to use the time for dry firing in the stadium building."

The fog has also affected other events today. The men's snowboard cross finals, also scheduled to take place today, have been postponed to Tuesday due to poor visibility on the course.



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