Extreme cold weather and snow, which have wreaked havoc over much of the central and eastern United States, caused many scheduled games and sporting events to be called off yesterday, closed race tracks, and even prompted two colleged swimming teams to compete by phone.
Except for Bowie Race Course, which was one of seven East Coast thoroughbred tracks shut down by the cold, there were few major problems at Washington-area sports facilities.
Blizzard conditions in Buffalo, N.Y., forced the Buffalo Braves to postpone their basketball games Friday night and tonight, because the team couldn't leave town. Located directly in one of the hardest hit sections in the country, Buffalo is trying to dig out from under 13 feet of snow.
Elsewhere around the nation, many major universities were forced to call off all weekend sports competition. Hundreds of college and high school basketball and hockey games were postponed or canceled because of dangerous traveling conditions.
In Ohio, where road conditions have been hazardous, Miami of Ohio and Ohio University devised a way to conduct their swimming meet yesterday without either team having to travel.
Each squad swam in its pool on its campus and compared times by phone.
Although Bowie racing was a victim of the weather here, Charles Town Race Track remained open for racing last night. Bowie was expected to reopen Monday.
Ft. Myer, home court of the American U. basketball team, always has had a heating problem, but the Eagles played Georgetown there last night.
Lou Thorne, director of special services for the Military District of Washington, D.C., said he didn't expect cold temperatures to affect the game.
"If a big wind comes, maybe it'll be cold inside," American athletic director Bob Frailey said before the contest. "We have been in contact with the Ft. Myer people and they have assured us it should be fairly comfortable inside."
Ft. Myer's gymnasium is heated by 16 hot-air blowers in the ceiling. On weekdays, the doors are opened frequently, making it difficult to keep the gym warm. On weekends, it is locked and the temperature often rises to 60 to 65 degrees.
Although the fort has been using more heating oil than usual, Thorne said, there is no possibility of a short-age because the facility is a defense shelter and is accorded top priority for fuel oil.
At the University of Maryland, Donald Parry, assistant director of the Physical Plant Department, also said he had to increase the amount of fuel oil used on campus, but there is no shortage.
The buildings on Maryland's campus, including Cole Field. House, where the Terraphins played last night, are heated by an oil-fired steam-heating system. In order to conserve fuel, many of the buildings not in use are not heated. In some older buildings, the heat is kept on the preclude freezing or cracking of pipes.
Capital Centre, where a pro basketball-hockey doubleheader was scheduled today for the Bullets and Capitals, has no notable problems since the building's heating system is electric.
Robinson High School in Fairfax, Va., the only secondary school in the county to use gas heat, was forced to postpone four girls and boys basketball games scheduled this weekend and early next week. The county decided to close the school until Wednesday to conserve fuel.
While the bitter cold and snow halted many athletic events, it failed to keep 22 golf-crazy enthusiasts from playing nine holes yesterday in Traverse City, Mich.
With the thermometer reading zero, the men dug out their favorite course, which was buried under three feet of snow, and laid out a 2,500-yard course. They used snow blowers to clear away putting surfaces and ice augers to make the holes, while they marked with bright orange flags.
The par-36 layout included one par-three, one par-five and seven par-fours. Bill Sorenson swept medalist honors with a "cool" four-over-par 40. For his efforts, his pals awarded him a free one-year membership in a local golf club.