Foul weather gives ski events a soggy send-off

Sat Feb 27, 2010 3:28pm EST
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By Mary Milliken

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Italy's Giuliano Razzoli whooshed through sleet and fog to lead in the first run of a tricky men's slalom race on Saturday that tripped up nearly half the racers including Olympic comeback kid Bode Miller.

Foul weather was sure to complicate the final full day of Winter Games competition, with bouts of hail and fog so thick that snowboard racers could barely make out the gates.

It also put a damper on celebrations in Vancouver where the Canadian men's ice hockey team squeaked past Slovakia in a nail-biting semi-final and headed to an epic rematch against the United States on the final day of the Games Sunday.

The chance to go for their most cherished gold was not the only reason for host nation Canada to celebrate.

Just days after lamenting its lack of medals, Canada stood atop the gold medal standings with 10 golds to nine for Germany and eight apiece for the United States and Norway.

Still, the Games' organisers had to contend with one more round of climate chaos in a three-week battle with Mother Nature.

The men's snowboard parallel giant slalom -- the final event on weather-challenged Cypress Mountain -- began as scheduled, but competitors complained of poor visibility.

"It's like riding by Braille," said American Chris Klug, who added that, despite the rain and fog, the snow quality and the course were actually really good.   Continued...

<p>Canada's hockey team celebrate after defeating Slovakia in their men's ice hockey playoff semifinals game at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 26, 2010. REUTERS/Shaun Best</p>