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Men's Downhill Delayed Again Due to Weather

By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 9, 1998; Page C8




NAGANO, Feb. 8—Anticipating poor weather conditions in the mountains Monday and Tuesday, the Nagano Olympic Committee and Alpine officials moved the men's downhill skiing event to Wednesday morning (Tuesday night EST).

The downhill was postponed after heavy snowfall and fog engulfed the Happo'one course this morning.

"Everything depends on the weather, from tomorrow onward," said Tsunchanza Takeda, the sport director of the Nagano Olympic Committee.

The change affected two other Alpine events. The men's combined downhill was moved from Monday to Tuesday morning (Monday night EST), and the combined slalom was moved from Wednesday to Monday morning (Sunday night EST). But the start of the combined slalom then was delayed twice before being postponed until Tuesday morning (Monday night EST). The combined downhill now likely will be run later in the week.

The heavy snow also disrupted the snowboarding schedule. The women's giant slalom was delayed and then postponed from Monday morning (Sunday night EST) to Tuesday morning (7:30 p.m. EST Monday).

"I really wanted to go to the Olympics today," U.S. snowboarder Lisa Kosglow said in The Gazette of Colorado Springs. "I really didn't want to hang out in the lounge. We've been playing a lot of video games."

The cancellation was a disappointment for the U.S. delegation that had hoped to win its first medal of the Games in the women's snowboard event, although they applauded the decision.

"I think the cancellation is good," U.S. Coach Peter Foley said. "Its hard for the athletes to perform at their best in these conditions. But it's also tough because they have to wait another day and that's hard."

"I'm glad they canceled the race," U.S. snowboarder Rosey Fletcher said. "The conditions would have been a little bit rough. I know the guys yesterday had a really hard time with visibility. For a race like this all the elements are important and should be right. Hopefully, we'll be able to go full tilt tomorrow.

A Tribute
The first Olympic gold medalist in the history of snowboarding, Ross Rebagliati of Canada, dedicated his victory in the men's giant slalom to a fellow Canadian snowboarder by saying, "This one's for Lumpy." Geoff "Lumpy" Leidal recently was killed along with six others in an avalanche.

"Everything leading up to today has been my school for this," Rebagliati said.

Flu Fells Skier
Russian cross-country skier Yelena Valbe, still suffering the lingering effects of flu, will miss Tuesday's 5K classical race (Monday night EST), according to Reuters. Valbe, a Siberian army captain who finished 17th in the 15K event on Sunday (Saturday night EST), also might be left off the relay team because three other Russians finished ahead of her in the 15K.

The 5K is linked to the 10K pursuit on Thursday (Wednesday night EST), so Valbe might miss that as well. That would leave the 30K freestyle on Feb. 20 as the 29-year-old's last chance at an Olympic gold medal.

Ratings Down
CBS's prime-time rating took a hit Saturday when the men's downhill was postponed for the third time in the past five Winter Olympics.

The network got a 12.2 rating and a 21 share for its coverage, according to numbers released Sunday, the lowest-rated night in the Winter Olympics since 1988, when ABC got a 9.9 on its first Saturday night of coverage. The men's downhill also was postponed that night.

The rating was 42 percent lower than the 20.9 rating on the first Saturday night in 1994 and 16 percent lower than the 14.5 in 1992. Both of those nights featured the Opening Ceremonies.

The first nights of competition in the past two Olympics got a 29.4 in 1994 and 23.5 in 1992. Both of those came on Sunday night-traditionally the most watched night of TV-and featured downhill skiing and pairs figure skating.

CBS's two-hour afternoon telecast Saturday had a 5.6 rating and a 14 share, 25 percent lower than in 1992. CBS did not have afternoon coverage on the first Saturday in 1994.

The rating for CBS's late-night show also was off. The 4.4 rating and 12 share was 30 percent lower than 1994 and 29 percent lower than 1992.

A rating point represents 980,000 households. Share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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