Hot time in Sochi: Snow taken out of cold storage

Posted by William Douglas on February 11, 2014 

— The motto for the 2014 Winter Olympics is 'Hot.Cool.Yours.' Unfortunately, it's getting a little too hot in subtropical Sochi.

After Monday's temperatures reached the balmy upper 50s and Tuesday's temps appeared head towards that direction, Russian officials went the Plan B and broke out snow stored from last winter and applied to courses that needed it at the mountain venues in Krasnaya Polyana.

"I cannot tell you how much. I just don't know," said Aleksandra Kosterina, spokeswoman for Sochi 2014. "I mean I don't know the specifics but I know that we did."

Snow is a tricky business for the Winter Olympics Too much of it, like the near white-out conditions at the 1998 games in Nagano, Japan, isn't a good thing. Too little of it - organizers of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver were praying for the white stuff - isn't a good thing, either.

Sochi is a large area with a dual identity. The Black Sea coastal area, where the skating sports arenas are located, has palm and fir trees. It's there where the weather has been balmy. Less than an hour away are the mountains, which have inches of natural snow at the higher elevations that's been augmented with artificial snow.

Critics complain that Russian President Vladimir Putin's decided to put the Winter Games in the place in Russia where it snows the least. And Russian Olympic officials have had to deal with snow questions even before the games began.

'We do have a strong contingency plan in place,' Kosterina said. 'We developed a special program I think two years ago certainly that included several measures, and one of them was the snow preservation that basically the snow that was stored from the previous season in insulation materials. Certainly the production of the snow was also one of them."

Some snowboarding athletes have complained about conditions. American snowboarder Danny Davis told Yahoo Sports Monday that conditions were contributing to "a lame showcase of snowboarding." Monday's half pipe practices were postponed as workers attempted to fix some of the concerns voiced by participating athletes.

'There is always a problem when it is a little bit warmer, so they are looking at that at the moment, I believe they are looking at half pipe at the moment," said Mark Adams, communications director for the International Olympic Committee. "There is no problem with the half pipe itself, it is just that these are dynamic living fields of play. All of these snow venues are such, so they need to make normal adjustments.'

 

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