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Plunging to minus 20 degrees Celsius at night and rarely breaking above freezing in the day, the temperatures have put Pyeongchang on track to be the coldest Olympics in decades.
Plunging to minus 20 degrees Celsius at night and rarely breaking above freezing in the day, the temperatures have put Pyeongchang on track to be the coldest Olympics in decades.

Athletes, Organizers Locked in Pyeongchang Cold War

Athletes, Organizers Locked in Pyeongchang Cold War

Even for cold weather warriors hardened by years of winter sports training, the icy chill of South Korea’s frigid February has come as a shock to the system in the leadup to this month’s Pyeongchang Olympics.
Plunging to minus 20 degrees Celsius at night and rarely breaking above freezing in the day, the temperatures have put Pyeongchang on track to be the coldest Olympics in decades and present athletes with a very different set of conditions from the sunshine and slushy snow of Sochi four years ago, Reuters reported.
The 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway, where temperatures dipped to minus 11 degrees Celsius, are currently the coldest Olympics on record but recent games in Turin, Vancouver and Sochi have all been significantly warmer.
Sporting and digital equipment appears no match for the biting cold either, with skis warped to such an extent coaches are tossing them out like “garbage” while cellphone and TV camera batteries are being rendered lifeless in minutes.
Austrian Alpine skier Marcel Hirscher said athletes were using a different pair of skis on every run as the frigid temperatures sharpened snow crystals.
“Snow crystals get really sharp when temperatures go to minus 20 degrees and the base burns,” he added. “It’s the same as lighting a fire and burning your (ski) base because the snow crystals get such sharp edges.”

 Health Concerns Rise
Health concerns too have risen to the fore. Norway’s cross-country team have brought some of their training indoors to prevent cold air from damaging athletes’ airways while fears that an outbreak of norovirus, known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’, would sweep through the games prompted organizers to keep infected security staff away from work.
But it is the threat of hypothermia at Friday’s opening ceremony that has set organizers on edge, with presidents, prime ministers and some 35,000 spectators scheduled to gather under the stars at Pyeongchang’s $58 million open-air Olympic stadium.
The ceremony has been slimmed down to a brisk two-hour march from the typical four-hour procession and organizers plan to dish out hats, blankets and seat-warmers to combat the cold, though that has not been enough to reassure some spectators as a number of tickets have already been returned.
The Korean Meteorological Administration may just have provided a ray of sunshine for organizers on Wednesday, however.
“According to our forecast the temperature will not be problematic to have the opening ceremony,” KMA deputy director, Choi Heung-jin, told reporters.
Temperatures would range from minus 2 to minus 5 Celsius which would not be overly concerning, he added.
The current cold snap is the latest to blanket the country over the past few months, prompting the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue warnings about cold weather injuries such as hypothermia and frostbite.
Yoon Hee-dong, director of the KMA’s forecast bureau, said spectators coming to Gangwon province should realize that it was colder than other parts of Korea and that they should “bundle up” and take other precautions to keep the cold at bay.

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