IOC plays down weather concerns

Aleksandra Kosterina says there is 'a strong contingency plan in place'

Aleksandra Kosterina says there is 'a strong contingency plan in place'

First published in National Sport News © by

Stored snow has been used in the Winter Olympic mountain venues in Sochi, but the International Olympic Committee moved to allay fears that high temperatures are set to cause problems.

Temperatures at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center, one part of the mountain cluster, will reach 6C on Tuesday and is forecast to rise to as high as 11C by Friday.

There were reports that Tuesday's men's snowboard halfpipe may have been delayed due to poor conditions, but the first qualification run is still scheduled for 2pm local time.

At the daily IOC press conference, Aleksandra Kosterina, director of communication for Sochi 2014, confirmed that stored snow has already been used during the preparations for the competition.

Although she was unclear when asked if it had been used since the Games started, Kosterina was confident that all was in hand.

She said: "We did (use stored snow). I cannot tell you how much.

"We will have a press conference dedicated to the mountain cluster events and the snow programme will feature enormously. They will explain the specifics of it.

"There were adjustments with the halfpipe and there were adjustments also with the jumping if I am not mistaken, but they are fine now.

"We do have a strong contingency plan in place. We developed a special programme two years ago that included several measures and one of them was the snow preservation, basically the snow that was preserved from the previous season in preservation materials. The production of the snow was also one of the measures.

"In fact, we have tested it already during last season's test events. We had very warm temps last year and we managed to have all of the events that were planned."

International Olympic Committee spokesman, Mark Adams, added: "Clearly, it is an FIS (International Ski Federation) issue but here is always a problem when it is a little bit warmer.

"There is no problem at all with the halfpipe, it is just that these are dynamic, living fields of play. All of the snow venues are such, so they need to make normal adjustments to those.

"It is a little warm and that is causing one or two problems, but so far things are running to schedule.

"I don't think there is any major news to report.

"The people who run that, the FIS, are used to this. It is not an unusual condition.

"There is plenty of snow, it is just a little bit warm."

The IOC also rejected suggestions that the Games were suffering from poor attendances as pictures of empty seats did the rounds on several media outlets.

The organisation revealed that 924,802 tickets have been sold so far - around 70 to 75 per cent of which have been bought by Russians - with a 98 per cent take-up on some disciplines such as skeleton, luge and freestyle.

Kosterina said: "When we started the press conference yesterday at the same time as today (11am Sochi), the alpine events also started.

"When we were coming in, 30 minutes ahead of the press conference, the venue might have looked empty but when we got back it was packed.

"It is an issue with the mountain events, it takes people a longer time to get there.

"Another issue is that it (competition) is long so some people tend to arrive just for the team or athlete that they want to see.

"It is exactly the same issue with the coastal cluster, there are some people there for their team and no one else.

"It is also peculiar in the mountains that people go down and prefer to be where the athletes finish.

"At the peak hours, the venues are full or 90 per cent full.

"Of course, if you are seeking for pictures of empty seats, then you will find them."

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