An avalanche at the Sochi Olympics mountain resort killed two skiers Sunday, the day after it opened to the public, according to The Associated Press.
Here’s the report:
Six skiers were on the middle section of Labirint run when the avalanche struck, Roza Khutor said in a statement. The snow buried two women, and rescuers who dug them out were unable to save them, it said, while the four other skiers escaped unharmed.
The resort said it was clearing the snow from the run and trying to determine the cause of the avalanche. The Roza Khutor management also expressed its condolences to the family and friends of the two skiers who died.
A map of the mountain shows the Labirint run located at the far edge of the resort and labeled black, the most difficult of four categories.
Skiing and snowboarding events were held in Rosa Khutor during the Olympics and Paralympics. The Paralympics concluded one week ago, and the resort reopened to the public Saturday, according to the AP.
The resort’s area received an avalanche warning in December, four days before it opened for the ski season.
There was a team of experts devoted solely to avalanche prevention in Rosa Khutor, as detailed by The New York Times.
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The fifth and final day of women’s downhill training was canceled according to the Associated Press. The gold medal round remains scheduled for Wednesday.
The AP reports that the temperature was “well above the freezing level” during the super combine at Rosa Khutor, causing deep ruts to form at the bottom of the course. Much has been made of the unusually warm temperatures for a winter games, with various reports detailing temperatures in the 61-63 Fahrenheit range in certain parts of Sochi.
People have even posted photos of palm trees in Sochi.
If the previous four training sessions are any indication, downhill could be wide open, as Swiss skiers Fabienne Suter and Dominique Gisin along with Austrians Anna Fenninger and Nicole Hosp enjoyed the best training runs on individual days. Hosp won a silver in the women’s super combined on Monday.
As we’ve documented over the last several days, the Olympic slopestyle course has given top snowboarders like Norway’s Torstein Horgmo (who broke a collarbone in training Monday and is out of the Games) and Team USA’s Shaun White (who jammed his wrist today) some problems.
However, the skiing contingent – which will also be hosting its inaugural Olympic slopestyle competition in Sochi – appear to be taking the challenging course in stride. While acknowledging its tough nature, they’re staying mostly positive.
“The course is a little rough, but it’s fun,” U.S. skier Nick Goepper told NBCOlympics.com’s Skyler Wilder today. “It’s a little high impact on the jumps because they are big step-downs, but overall it’s pretty sweet. It is just different.
“The rails are interesting, they are a little bit hard to do tricks on, but I think we just have to make do. I’m feeling confident. We’ve had more training than ever, so I think you will see some sick runs in the qualifiers and finals.”
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Not that the course is entirely perfect in the eyes of the skiers. Another American, Joss Christiansen, said to Wilder that ice has been an issue on the course. As a result, he’s hoping for higher temperatures in the days leading up to the competition on Feb. 13.
“They are having a bit of problems, but the park crew is doing a pretty good job,” he said. “They are going to work the kinks out. I’m hoping through the next nine days before we compete that it warms up and gets a little softer. I think that would be a good show if we are all a little more comfortable.”
For more reaction from the training runs, check out Wilder’s story in the first link above.