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Athletes and fans will have to adjust to unusually cold Olympic Games

David Wharton, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Olympics

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- The American speed team -- the men and women who scream down mountainsides in the downhill and the super-giant slalom -- are packing extra equipment at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Rolls of thick tape. To put across cheeks and down noses. To ward off frostbite.

"When you're going 70 to 80 miles an hour, that adds a lot of windchill," veteran Ted Ligety says. "You have to tape your face."

After nearly a decade of sunny skies and melting snow, the Winter Games have finally landed in a host city that is downright frosty.

Temperatures in Pyeongchang, South Korea, have lingered at or below freezing all week in a cold snap that has even the locals bundled up and hunched over as they scurry along streets.

The weather has forced skiers and sliders to adjust their equipment and consider different techniques. Organizers have erected wind barriers around competition sites and devised ways to keep fans warm in the stands.

 

With forecasts calling for a gusty 14 degrees at the opening ceremony on Friday night, everyone arriving at the outdoor Olympic Stadium will receive what amounts to a survival kit: A blanket, a beanie, a wind-breaking poncho and hand, foot and chest warmers.

American athletes will march in the traditional parade of nations wearing parkas equipped with battery-powered heating elements. Others might not be so well-fortified.

"Not only is it cold, it chills you to the bone," said Kevin Boyer, a Canadian skeleton racer who arrived in Pyeongchang to temperatures of minus-4 degrees. "The wind is the worst."

This isn't like the 2010 Vancouver Games where organizers laid straw over bare spots on mountain courses and added snow trucked in from higher elevations.

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