mass start postponed, women still on
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[February 17, 2014]
By Julien Pretot
ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) — The men's
biathlon mass start was postponed to Tuesday due to poor visibility
after heavy fog descended on the Laura center at the Winter Olympics, but
the women's version would go ahead later on Monday, organizers said.
The men's 15km race was originally scheduled for Sunday evening
but organizers had pushed it back to Monday morning. It will now be
held at 14.30 local time (10.30GMT) on Tuesday.
As the skies cleared up in the afternoon, the women's 12.5km race
was confirmed for its scheduled 19.00 local time (1500GMT) on
Monday, organizers said.
"It's going ahead at 7pm subject to zeroing (shooting tests) which
will be held between 18.00 and 18.45," a spokesman said.
The morning's light drizzle also affected the conditions, with the
snow being extremely mushy.
"The salt on the track isn't working. They salted the whole course,
but there seems to be no interaction," said competition jury member Patrizio Curtaz.
The men's snowboard cross race scheduled for earlier Monday was also
postponed due to fog.
Biathlon combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. Athletes
have to complete a distance over skis and stop at a shooting range
two or four times depending on the discipline.
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As thick fog covered the mountains on Monday a view of the targets — 50 meters from where athletes stand or lie — was impossible.
It was the third time that a biathlon race at the Olympics has been
At the Nagano Games in 1998, the men's sprint was called off after
heavy snow and fog forced the race to be stopped. It was started
again the following day.
In Sapporo in 1972, the same scenario applied to the men's 20km
France's Martin Fourcade, who has already claimed two gold medals in
Sochi, and Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who is looking to secure
a record-breaking 13th Winter Olympics medal, are among the
favorites for the men's mass start.
(Editing by Mitch Phillips)
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