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Weather delays are all part of the, um, alpine experience at the Olympics

February 13, 2010 | 11:46 am

This is my fifth Winter Olympics, so I know all about sitting around doing nothing while people stand around talking about who is going to win the downhill if it ever gets raced.

The difference this time is the technology. I used to spend hours twiddling my thumbs during race delays -- now I idle away hours twittering with my thumbs.

OK, so they postponed the men's downhill at Whistler Creekside on Saturday and moved it to Monday, pretty much taking Sunday off the schedule because the women were going to run their first race, the combined, on that day until that race got weather-whacked and rescheduled to another day, hopefully in February.

This is nothing (so far) compared to 1998 at Nagano, on a faraway mountain in Hakuba, when we waited five days for the downhill and watched the entire alpine schedule get scrambled like eggs.

The Japanese had a very difficult time saying no, so every day we'd have to trudge to media center to begin the tortuous process of waiting around for the inevitable postponement.

It was like waiting around in an airport during a biblical storm and the airline rescheduling your doomed flight departure to 5:34 p.m., as if they've nailed it down to the minute.

The Japanese did the same thing: "The men's downhill has been delayed 15 minutes. The new start time is 2:16."

This went on for days. My longtime partner in alpine ski-delay coverage, the diminutive but devilish David Leon Moore of USA Today, would answer these announcements with "LIARS!"

It caught on in the press room.

It wasn't easy, but they squeezed in all 10 alpine events in Nagano, doubling up events some days. This led to me missing Hermann Maier's epic win in the super-G, three days after he crashed in the downhill. Why? Because Picabo Street was running in the women's downhill on the same day.

Hey, as they say in this sport: "that's ski racing."

So here we sit, again, this time in Whistler, waiting for the clouds to clear, the rain to stop and the temperature to get colder.

The Winter Olympics should never, ever feel like Cleveland in the spring. You should never, either, bring back a souvenir umbrella from the Olympic mountain. 

No time to panic...yet. They build in Olympic off days for the delays that are often inevitable. Monday and Thursday were dark on the original schedule, so there's still time to get back on track.

But we're running out of time. And I'm running out of ways to describe mist, fog, slush, and mud, on my pants.

Chris Dufresne in Whistler, Canada

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