Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 file photo Olympic stadiums, from left, Ice Cube curling center, Bolshoi Ice Dome and Shaiba ice hockey center are seen in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia. The Black Sea resort has been transformed by preparations for the Olympics, with much of the infrastructure and almost all of the sports venues built from scratch. Russia spent more than $50 billion on the games, making them the most expensive in history. Sochi has a subtropical climate, and palm trees line its streets, but up in the mountains above the city the first snow of the season fell in September.(AP Photo/Artur Lebedev, file)
Purdy: The Olympics aren’t melting but they’re getting mushy
Olympics » Sub-tropical Sochi has snow issues, but according to organizers, all is well
First Published Feb 11 2014 01:00 pm • Last Updated Feb 25 2014 04:47 pm

Sochi, Russia • The Winter Olympics is approaching a snow problem. No problem, say the Games organizers.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Except it is a problem. The Games are not yet melting. I can confidently report that. But they are getting pretty mushy.

Not the entire Games, of course. Some of the snow at some of the venues is acceptable. Some of it is even sort of good. And it’s no issue at the indoor venues, of course. But back when Sochi was awarded the 2010 Winter Games, everyone knew that other than security people, the most nervous folks would be thermometer watchers. The forecast was accurate.

The Sochi area, located on the Black Sea, has a sub-tropical climate. Palm trees line the streets. At the main Olympic Park where the indoor venues are built, temperatures have hovered mostly in the 50’s. The high was 61 on Monday. Thirty miles away at mountain venues, the temps have been a little colder, in the 40′s. But still above freezing.

Tuesday, organizers altered the halfpipe competition schedule, moving a session from 2:30 p.m. until after dark. That way, the snow/ice would have an easier time staying frozen in the semicircular bowl where snowboarders gather momentum to perform their tricks above the halfpipe rim.Chemicals were also mixed with the snow/ice to make it coagulate faster.

story continues below
story continues below

Before those decisions were made, reviews of the halfpipe venue were definitely not good. Danny Davis, an American boarder, called the conditions "garbage" after a Monday training session. His teammate, Hannah Teeter, said: "It’s dangerous because it’s crappy." The red-haired eminence of American snowboarding, Shaun White, observed: "The flat bottom is just sand and mush."

Sand and mush? What sand and mush? That was pretty much the attitude of Sochi and Games officials when they were asked about the situation on Tuesday morning.

One of my favorite things at any Olympics is to attend press conferences where the big honchos try to deny things we can see with our own eyes. That happened again Tuesday morning when Mark Adams, spokesman for the International Olympic Committee, was asked about the halfpipe issues.

"It is freezing overnight," Adams said. "It is a little warm and that is causing one or two problems . . . There is always a problem when it is a little bit warmer. There is no problem at all with the halfpipe itself, it is just that these are dynamic living fields of play."

What a wonderful phrase. I believe it was the same terminology that was used in Seattle when there was civil disturbance after the Super Bowl: Hey, it was just a dynamic living field of play.

But the eloquent Adams was not finished.

Next Page >

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.