- Getty Images
- 4 out of every 5 slopestyle competitors crashed in a dangerous gold medal event at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
- Many snowboarders in Pyeongchang, South Korea failed to contend with the 31 km/hour gales.
- The event should have been cancelled, according to the bronze medalist.
Weather at the Winter Olympics was so bad on Monday that the women’s slopestyle gold medal event should have been cancelled, according to bronze medalist Enni Rukajarvi.
The slopestyle – a winter sports equivalent of skateboarding and BMX – is an event that showcases an athlete’s creativity and courage as competitors conjure up tricks (like spins and flips) using a variety of obstacles like rails and ski jumps.
Wind can have a severe impact on an athlete’s ability to land their jumps – and this was the case in Pyeongchang in South Korea as four out of every five Olympians crash-landed thanks to 31 kilometre per hour gusts of wind.
Nick Pope, a commentator for BBC Sport, said on Twitter that the Pyeongchang slopestyle was like “the world’s most beautiful graveyard.” Another BBC commentator said: “You wouldn’t land an airplane in this.“
British athlete Aimee Fuller was left “absolutely devastated” when she failed to finish in her second run. Speaking to the BBC, she said: “The wind ripped me sideways and was like riding into a wind tunnel.”
Here is an example of the crashes the athletes endured.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) February 12, 2018
Finnish snowboarder Enni Rukajärvi managed to secure a bronze medal, but fumed at the International Olympic Committee’s decision to let the event go ahead. “They should have cancelled it, or moved it,” she said, according to the BBC.
“It was pretty bad. I’m happy to land my run and get a good score but I’m most happy that no one got hurt bad. The weather was bad and too dangerous.”
Dutch athlete Cheryl Maas called the event a “s— show.”
A tweet from Will Graves of AP highlights how it was far more common to crash during the event than it was to get over the finishing line.
— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) February 12, 2018
However, not all slopestyle athletes criticised the wind.
USA Olympian Jamie Anderson, who successfully defended the gold medal she won at the Sochi games in 2014, said in the Washington Post that she was “kind of down for whatever.”
This is not the first event at the 2018 Winter Olympics that has been hampered by weather. Wind created havoc at the men’s downhill skiing event on Saturday and the women’s giant slalom on Sunday. Both events were postponed.