It’s all Arctic wind and eggs at PyeongChang on the Opening Day of the Winter Olympics. With the official ceremonies out of the way, we can look ahead to some of the blue ribbon events over the weekend.
The 23rd Winter Olympic Games are now officially open! In temperatures that apparently dipped down to -15 degrees Celsius, the world’s top winter athletes spent this morning fluttering flags in the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Stadium. Undeterred by the cold, cross-country skier Pita Taufatofua flew the flag for Tonga bare-chested and oiled, repeating his appearance at the Rio Olympics. Team America meanwhile opted for a less naked approach, donning battery-powered heated jackets that cost $2,500 each. Flying the flag for Team GB was Lizzy Yarnold, the 29-year-old skeleton athlete who took Great Britain’s only gold medal at Sochi.
A quick look at the Instagram feeds of the world’s Olympians confirms that it’s seriously cold out there. When even Team GB’s cross-country skier Andrew Musgrave (AKA Muzzy), who grew up in Alaska, Scotland and Norway, says it’s chilly enough to whip out his windproof boxers, you know it’s serious. It’s mostly down to wind chill and that wind has also been causing havoc with this morning’s Men’s Alpine Downhill training run. It was delayed by half an hour and then ran on a shorter course than anticipated. Unfortunately, the weather forecast is for winds to strengthen over the weekend, throwing the timing of the final (scheduled for 2am GMT on Sunday) into doubt. We’ll keep you posted.
There might be some wind emanating from Team Norway as well, following the delivery to the chef de mission, Tore Ovrebo, of 15,000 eggs rather than the 1,500 he wanted. “The eggs was more like a misunderstanding than something that we needed,” explained Ovrebo. “It was an extra zero on the order, so 1,500 to 15,000. Well, shit happens,” he said with a rueful laugh. Or perhaps not if his team have to consume 124 eggs each over the next fortnight…
Back to Team GB for a quick overview of our key athletes and when to look out for them over the coming days. Although first, we want to extend our deep-felt commiserations for Katie Ormerod, who had to withdraw from the Games yesterday after she fractured her heel in training.
Dave Ryding is heading up a four-strong Alpine skiing team with his men’s slalom day next week on Thursday.
- Alpine, Men’s Slalom: Thursday 22 February, 01.15 GMT
Andrew Musgrave could make British history if he continues his current form and beats the Norwegians to some Cross-Country medals.
- Cross-Country, Men’s 30km Skiathlon: Sunday 11 February, 06.15 GMT
- Cross-Country, Men’s 15km Free: Friday 16 February, 06.00 GMT
Our impressive freestyle skiing line-up includes four-time World Cup slopestyle winner James “Woodsy” Woods and women’s slopestyle hopefuls Izzy Atkin and Katie Summerhayes. And don’t forget Lloyd James, who has recovered from an induced coma last summer to be in with a strong chance in the aerials.
- Freestyle, Women’s Ski Slopestyle Finals: Saturday 17 February, 04.56 GMT
- Freestyle, Men’s Ski Slopestyle and Men’s Aerials: Sunday 18 February, from 05.11 GMT
Despite losing Katie Ormerod, Team GB’s snowboarding squad retains some serious medal contenders. Billy Morgan, Jamie Nicholls and Rowan Coultas kick off tomorrow in the Men’s Slopestyle qualifiers with Billy back for the debut Big Air competition. Aimee Fuller will be nailing the Women’s Slopestyle and we look forward to seeing Zoë Gillings-Brier compete in her fourth Winter Olympics in the snowboard cross.
- Snowboard, Men’s Slopestyle Finals: Sunday 11 February, 02.00 GMT
- Snowboard, Women’s Slopestyle Finals: Monday 12 February, 02.06 GMT
- Snowboard, Women’s Snowboard Cross Finals: Friday 16 February, 03.52 GMT
- Snowboard, Men’s Big Air Finals: Saturday 24 February, 02.00 GMT