Bad weather hits Games again, tickets refunded

Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:33pm EST
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By Janet Guttsman

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The weather gods cursed the Vancouver Winter Olympics again on Tuesday, forcing delays to Alpine skiing, snowboarding and ski jumping, with rain near Vancouver and snow and fog shrouding the mountains.

But while the super combined slalom, the main Alpine event on Tuesday's roster, was postponed until Sunday, organizers limped ahead with a stop-start women's snowboard cross race where qualifying runs were punctuated by frequent delays for poor visibility and overnight rain led to a string of tumbles.

Germany and Sweden picked up gold medals in biathlon skiing, with Magdalena Neuner taking gold in the women's race, and Bjorn Ferry in the men's.

Switzerland led the medals table halfway through day four with three golds, followed by the United States, Germany, South Korea, France and Sweden, who all have two.

But the weather was again a top story in a Games that have been plagued by rain and unseasonably warm temperatures.

Organizers on Tuesday said they would refund C$1.4 million worth of tickets at the Cypress Mountain venue for snowboarding and freestyle events because the ground is too just soft for spectators to stand in safety.

"It's just too unstable out there and too unsafe to have people walking around," vice president of ticketing Caley Denton said of the cancellations, which affects some 28,000 standing room ticketholders.

The warmest January in Vancouver history dumped rain instead of snow on the Cypress and Olympics organizers had brought snow in by truck and helicopter to build the courses. With Olympic races already under way, that is no longer an option.   Continued...

<p>A fan reads a newspaper in the rain and fog at the finish area of the women's snowboard cross event during a weather delay at the Vancouver Winter Olympics Games on Cypress Mountain February 16, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>