WINTER SPORTS ROUNDUP : Olympic Sites Cut Off by Snow, Rain
Six weeks before the start of the Winter Olympics in the French Alps, a heavy snowfall and torrential rains isolated the sites of several events and caused an avalanche on the new Olympic downhill course.
The harsh winter weather caused the death of three people, injured three others and stranded thousands of people hoping to spend Christmas skiing near the sites of the Games, which will begin Feb. 8.
In the higher elevations, more than 5-6 1/2 feet of snow fell late Saturday. The sudden, heavy snow was followed by torrential rains early Sunday that led to avalanche conditions, the regional weather service said.
Bellevarde Mountain, the site of four of the five Olympic men’s skiing events near Val D’Isere, was cut off by the heavy snow.
Workers struggled to clear the route and also to clear snow from the new Olympic downhill run.
An avalanche buried a hotel in Val D’Isere, slightly injuring three people, police said. About 80 rescue workers dug out three guests who were treated for minor injuries.
Two people died when an avalanche buried a chalet located in La Plagne, site of the Olympic bobsled and luge events. The identities of the victims were not available.
Men’s and women’s World Cup events were canceled Sunday.
A men’s slalom at St. Anton, Austria, already postponed by a day because of bad weather, was canceled because of continued heavy snowfall and high wind. A women’s giant slalom at Serre Chevalier, France, was canceled because of soft snow.
Cathy Turner and Amy Peterson earned spots on the U.S. Olympic Team with a 1-2 finish at the Short Track Speedskating Trials at Lake Placid, N.Y.
Turner, of Hilton, N.Y., was the overall winner in the women’s division, finishing with 303 points. Peterson, of Maplewood, Minn., finished second with 238 points. Both will skate in the 500-meter event at the Winter Olympics in Albertville, where short track speedskating makes its debut as a medal sport.
Also named to the U.S. team for the four-skater relay event were Nikki Ziegelmeyer of Imperial, Mo.; Darcie Dohnal of Wauwatosa, Wis.; Tricia Stennes of Arden Hills, Minn., and Carrie Johnson of Roseville, Minn.
The men’s team was finalized Saturday with Andy Gabel of Franklin, Wis., and Charles King of Studio City earning positions.