Weather played havoc with the Winter Olympics again on Wednesday, with fierce winds forcing authorities to close the Olympic Park in Gangneung, near South Korea's east coast. Officials began evacuating the park around 3pm, urging visitors to go indoors, NBC Chicago reports. The wind caused the women's slalom race to be postponed until Friday. "All of them are anxious to race, absolutely, but they all want to race in fair conditions. That's the main thing," US coach Paul Kristofic said, per the AP. The women's biathlon was also postponed because gusts of more than 15mph made it difficult for competitors to use their rifles. In other Olympics happenings:
- A serious issue. Writing for the Globe and Mail, Cathal Kelly reports that with the winds arriving just as the Games began to warm up after days of bitter cold, the weather is becoming a serious issue that could make it impossible to complete all the events, or at least lead to "a glut of events in the second half of the Games, piled one atop the other."
- The science: Kelly calls Gangwon-do province, where the Olympics are taking place, "one of the most inhospitable populated places on the planet" in terms of weather. He explains that while Pyeongchang lines up with mid-California latitude-wise, elevation and winds from Siberia make it "the coldest place in the world at such a southerly position." It's also unique in that it can see hurricane-force winds without there actually being a hurricane.
- Paying the North's tab. South Korea has approved a plan to cover the cost of hosting North Korea's Olympic delegation, the BBC reports. The $2.64 million it cost to host around 400 supporters and performers will come from Seoul's reunification budget.
- White tigers. The Guardian looks at why winners are being handed stuffed animals on platters instead of medals immediately after the events. The IOC says the "cuddly toy ceremony" involving white tigers, an important animal in Korean mythology, is a tradition and winners get their real medals at a ceremony in the evening.
- Snow volleyball. Snow volleyball isn't an Olympic sport and isn't on the road to becoming one yet, but supporters tried to make the case for it with an energetic demonstration Wednesday, Yahoo reports. "We like to play in the mountains, in the beach, outside, inside, with children, with men and women," European Volleyball Confederation president Aleksandr Boricic said. "With snow volleyball, we can cover volleyball every day of the year."
- The lead character. Barry Svrluga has clearly had enough of the Korean winter weather. In his column at the Washington Post, he writes that the "lead character" in Pyeongchang was the cold, not any athlete—until it was upstaged by wind "that has set off car alarms, impaled sand into skin, toppled concession stands and forced officials to shut down an entire cluster of venues."
- Day 5 preview. The AP's preview of Day 5's events includes the figure skating pairs final at 8pm Eastern and the USA versus Canada women's hockey final at 10:10pm.
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