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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

Four years ago, in Sochi, the Russians stockpiled more than 700,000 cubic meters of snow under thermal blankets. At some venues, competitors found themselves slogging through sloppy conditions.

"At the last couple of Winter Olympics, it hasn't felt much like winter," said Manuel Osborne-Paradis, a Canadian downhiller. "You got warm clothes and you were sweating all day."

Experts have warned that as temperatures around the globe inch higher each year, it could become increasingly difficult to find suitable locations for winter competitions.

There have been no such concerns in Pyeongchang.

Located on the eastern edge of Asia, the region features a continental climate with February temperatures averaging 22 degrees in the mountains.

"There tends to be this high-pressure system that sets up over Siberia," said Jim Steenburgh, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Utah. "So they see a lot of cold, dry winters."

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Winds sweeping down from the Manchurian Plain over the last few weeks have nipped at exposed skin and wormed inside gloves and boots. It has been something of a shock to athletes just off the World Cup circuit in Europe and North America, where the days have been kinder.

The most-recent forecast from the Korea Meteorological Administration calls for a brief warming on Saturday with a chance of snow. By Sunday, chilling winds should return.

"The temperature will be colder than the norm for a few days ... due to incoming cold air from the northwest, as well as a strong windchill factor," officials said.

The trick will be adapting to conditions.

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