By J.A. Adande
You might have noticed there wasn’t a batch of “Will Pyeongchang be ready for the start of the Olympics?” stories ahead of these Winter Games. No problem; all of the facilities were up on schedule. Maybe the question we should have asked instead is, “Will the Olympics be ready for the start of the Olympics?” Because after three days there haven’t been any alpine skiing events.
It doesn’t get more Winter Olympicy than someone skiing down a snow-covered mountain. That sight has yet to be seen here so far, as high winds have postponed every skiing event during the first three days. So while the Games have begun, it doesn’t feel as if they’ve really begun.
And then there’s the event that should not have begun: the women’s slopestyle snowboard competition. You’d think that if it was too windy for people to compete in an event that asks them to keep their skis in contact with the mountain as much as possible that it would be too windy to complete an event that asks its competitors to spin and flip in the air.
But the snowboard show went on, and the carnage piled up. Snowboarder after snowboarder lost control during their aerial maneuvers and crashed. Or they made the safest, most vanilla runs possible to avoid the risk. This wasn’t very Olympian. Not much citius, altius or fortius going on.
It wasn’t the snowboarders’ fault. They never should have been asked to compete under those circumstances in the first place. They weren’t allowed to be their best. It wasn’t even easy to pin blame on the International Olympic Committee, the way they kept shrugging off responsibility. At a press conference during the day, IOC spokesman Mark Adams kept pointing to the overseers of the individual sports as the ones who made the go/no-go call.
“It’s the federation who is used to running these events,” Adams said.
When the subject wasn’t high winds it was low attendance. If you’ve caught any of this Olympics of TV you’ve probably noticed plenty of empty seats. Pyeongchang Organizing Committee spokesman Sung Baik-you said that 84 percent of available tickets have been sold. He also said that some the empty seats might not really be empty, they could have been vacated by fans huddling elsewhere to avoid the wind.
Sooner or later, everything around here comes down to the wind. It would be nice if sooner, rather than later, things came down to downhill skiing. Until then, the Olympics await.