Fog plays havoc with Games, US eye ice dance gold
US Meryl Davis and US Charlie White perform in the figure skating ice dance at the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 16, 2014 - by Damien Meyer
Warm temperatures at the Games have failed to disrupt the sporting action but thick cloud cover in the mountains at Rosa Khutor meant the men's biathlon 15km mass start and men's snowboard cross could not go ahead as planned.
The biathlon event, originally slated for Sunday, has been put back again until Tuesday, meaning Norwegian star Ole Einar Bjoerndalen will have to wait longer for his bid for a record 13th Winter Olympics medal. No new time has been set.
The men's snowboard cross competition has been rescheduled for 10:30 am (06:30 GMT) on Tuesday with a shortened format.
Coaches at the Laura biathlon course said the biggest problem was not so much the fog as the poor quality of the snow.
"The problem is not really the fog, it's the state of the track," Siegfried Mazet, the French team's biathlon shooting coach said. "The snow cover is too wet."
Alpine skiers have expressed doubts over variable conditions, with winter-like snow and ice on top of runs through to spring-like softer snow conditions at the bottom.
But Austria-born Patrick Riml, the US team's alpine director, said conditions were "not an excuse for me" and changing conditions were "part of the game".
"The conditions are unusual, there's no doubt about that. But it's the same for everybody. I can't say there was one race where it was completely crappy after number 22," he said.
Despite the challenges, the International Olympic Committee remained bullish. Spokesman Mark Adams said: "No event has been cancelled so far".
One competition that is not threatened by the weather is the ice dance at the Iceberg Skating Palace on the Black Sea coast.
US pair Davis and White, who set a new world record score of 78.89 points in the short dance on Sunday with a performance to "My Fair Lady", are firm favourites to add gold to their two world titles.
But they must see off the challenge of reigning Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, who trail them by 2.56 points going into Monday's free dance.
- Rivalry on the ice -
It is the latest round in an ongoing rivalry on the ice going back to junior days between the two couples, who train together in Detroit.
"Excellent is a word to describe it. I felt like I was in a dream. Everything is coming together," said Davis, referring to the couple's performance on Sunday.
White said: "We were just in our zone, so we could go out and skate like that. It felt awesome. When we were going out, we said, 'Let's do it for each other'."
Canada's Moir said: "That's the strongest we've skated this season. We did what we needed to do tonight. We like our chances."
Weather-permitting, the ski jumping tournament will come to an end on Monday with the team competition.
Poland's Kamil Stoch, who won the normal and large hill individual events, will attempt to become just the second jumper in history to complete the golden sweep of all three competitions.
In women's biathlon -- weather permitting -- Darya Domracheva of Belarus will be chasing a third gold of the Games in the women's mass start.
Russia's Alexander Zubkov and Alexey Voevoda lead the two-man bobsleigh ahead of the last two runs after crowd favourites Jamaica endured a tough opening night, finishing the session in 30th and last place, 4.41sec behind the leaders.
In freestyle, the men's aerials could well be a contest between Belarus and China, with 2010 Olympic champion Alexei Grishin taking part in his fifth Olympics.
Teammate Anton Kushnir is also tipped to be among the medals as are Chinese trio Liu Zhongqing, Qi Guangpu and Jia Zongyang.
Women's ice hockey has reached the semi-final stage, with the United States playing Sweden and Canada taking on Switzerland.