Men’s snowboard cross competition cancelled due to fog

The scene at the start gates in Sochi Monday morning; photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
The scene at the start gates in Sochi Monday morning; photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

The most traditionally Olympic kind of snowboarding on the schedule in Sochi (next to the slalom events, of course), snowboard cross is a timed race that pits six men against one another on a fast, complicated course that incorporates big jumps, sharp banks, and potentially speed-sucking rollers. The competitors ride shoulder to shoulder, derby style, trying to outgun one another while avoiding the collisions so common to the sport.

It's no mean feat to make the pull, even in the best of weather. In an instant, one unexpected move can make years of hard training and Olympic dreams disappear. Riders cut one another off, clip edges on landings, hit the knuckle in a rhythm section, bounce into the gates along the side. They crash, and they crash spectacularly—while their rivals whip past their crumpled bodies and on to the finish line.

Now try keeping a handle on all that in fog thick as San Francisco's.

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The weather was less than cooperative Monday morning in Sochi, Russia, as the men's snowboard cross event was set to begin. An impending storm hugged the peaks and shrouded Rosa Khutor Extreme Park in a misty blanket that caused decision makers first to cancel the seeding runs entirely, opting instead to configure the start lists for the 1/8 finals based on current World Cup standings.

Fog photos crowded social media feeds while competitors and spectators waited on an every-15-minutes "Will the show go on?" determination schedule. American team member Alex Deibold tweeted this image:

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>They are literally running the fans on the snow guns to try and blow away the fog. Spoiler alert: it&#39;s not working <a href=”http://t.co/mbOOqmWdb4″>pic.twitter.com/mbOOqmWdb4</a></p>&mdash; Alex Deibold (@adeibold) <a href=”https://twitter.com/adeibold/statuses/435345648267718656″>February 17, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Nearly three hours after seeding was meant to start, competitors headed to the start gates just in case the fog lifted enough to ride. As time wore on, however, conditions failed to appreciably improve. The visibility was simply too poor to run the event safely, and officials opted to cancel the event for the day and slate it for a yet-to-be-determined makeup time. Details were still outstanding at press time.

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