Whoosh! Windy weather disrupts Winter Olympics

Crash landing: Team GB’s Aimee Fuller falls over during the slopestyle. © Getty

Do you prefer the Winter or Summer Olympics? The Games are all about the world’s top athletes competing to be the best, but this year in Pyeongchang there is another contender — the weather.

What’s happening

With the wind whipping ice-pellets into competitors’ faces at 45mph, the slopes at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang are a tough challenge to overcome. Several downhill skiing events had to be postponed. The weather was so poor in the women’s slopestyle that one competitor called it “a lottery”.

Find out more

Since 1924, athletes have competed at the Winter Olympic Games in a range of cold-weather sports like cross country skiing, speed skating and big air snowboarding, which was added this year.

It is a chance for colder countries to showcase their sports skills — with 329 medals, Norway tops the all-time medal table, but does not even make the top 20 in the Summer Olympics.

For an event like the slopestyle, where riders go one at a time, the weather can have a huge impact. A single, strong gust of wind can ruin four years of preparation and practice. Aimee Fuller from Great Britain said: “It felt like I had a sail boat under my board.”

For many, this unpredictability makes the Winter Games special. Are they even better than the Summer Games?

Some say…

The Olympics are about pushing athletes to their limits. The extreme weather adds to the excitement and makes the Winter Games more thrilling — a bobsleigh in the Winter Games is twice as fast as the speediest cyclist in the Summer Games. As long as the International Olympic Committee rules the field is safe for everyone to compete, it’s game on.

Others think…

The Olympics are about pitching the best athletes against each other, not Mother Nature. The Winter Games are limited by the weather — and warm countries in the Southern Hemisphere often struggle to compete. The Summer Games are far more exciting. They offer more events, more stable conditions, and a more competitive field. Bring on Tokyo 2020!

You Decide

  1. Would you rather compete in the Summer or the Winter Olympics?

Activities

  1. There are 15 different disciplines in the Winter Olympics this year. Research what those disciplines are and find out what events there are within each discipline (for example there are 13 different events for the the discipline of Alpine Skiing). Pick one of those disciplines and write about what it would be like to compete in Pyeongchang. How much training has it taken? Who is there to support you? Are you excited about meeting other athletes? What would it be like to win?

Some People Say...

“If you want something safe, play chess.”

Tristan Walker, Canadian luger

What do you think?

Word Watch

Pyeongchang
An area in South Korea.
Slopestyle
Snowboarders perform tricks on man-made jumps, rails and boxes.
Winter Olympic Games
Held every four years for sports played on snow and ice.
Summer Olympics
Held every four years for other sports and athletics. There is a two-year gap between the Winter and Summer Games.
International Olympic Committee
The “IOC”. The group responsible for running the competition.
Southern Hemisphere
The half of the Earth which is south of the Equator, with a slightly warmer climate (generally), because of the quantity of ocean.

Subjects

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