Alex “Chumpy” Pullin
Fans of the snowboard cross will have to wait at least one more day to see the men hit the slopes in Sochi, Russia.
The men were supposed to take part in several events in the cross on Day 10, but fog made for unsafe conditions. Will Perry of BBC Sport gave his audience a peek at the low-visibility situation:
Still looks like this at the bottom of the Men's Snowboard cross course. Next official update at 2.15 local time pic.twitter.com/4caVb98H0e— Will Perry (@willperryTV) February 17, 2014
As did Bleacher Report UK:
After an unfortunate turn of events, the delay means Day 11 will be an epic one for fans of the sport, as it was normally scheduled to have no snowboarding events. It will be interesting to see how the riders adapt to the new schedule.
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 10:30 a.m. EST
Live TV: None
TV Highlights: NBC prime time (8 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. CT)
Live Stream: NBC Live Extra
Official Changes and Potential Impact
Outside of riders being forced into a wonky schedule, the rules of the event itself have now changed. Rather than a qualification round, riders will simply be placed in order based on world ranking, according to the Associated Press, via The Denver Post's Will Graves:
Tuesday's race will be under a modified format. There will be no qualifying, and instead the racers will be bracketed based on their world ranking.
There will be seven heats of five riders each and one heat of four. The top three in each will advance to the quarterfinal rounds.
The Australian Olympic team's Twitter visually captured the details:
While it is ideal to let the riders earn their seeds and better practice the course at the same time, this amended schedule does the best it can given the circumstances.
What truly matters is how the riders react to such news and what they do with an additional day of preparation time.
Australia's Alex “Chumpy” Pullin was one who remained positive in the face of the delays, as captured by Emily Groves of Olympics.com:
I think everyone was pretty pumped to go this morning, but as we saw, the weather wasn't letting up at all which was unfortunate, so it is really out of control for everyone involved, even the organisers. They did everything they could. They even turned the snow guns to blow it away on which was pretty funny.
Pullin's coach, Ben Wordsworth, says the postponement does little to change his team's preparation:
The boys remained positive and focused throughout the day and were ready to race at a moment’s notice. They are now going through the same routine today as they did yesterday, are all in a very positive frame of mind and are looking forward to getting out there.
The story is likely the same across the board for all Olympians in the face of the delays. While unfortunate, the weather gives some of the world's best athletes another day to prepare for what should be a hotly contested podium.
Pullin is in the No. 1 slot for the 1/8 finals and will participate in the first heat thanks to FIS rankings.
Who wins gold?
The first run also features big names such as Nick Baumgartner of the U.S. and Kevin Hill of Canada, which are names likely to qualify high in the seeding anyway.
What is interesting now is the fact that only the top three from each run can advance.
Despite the odd structure and disruptive schedule, Pullin still remains the favorite. His bid for gold in Vancouver was derailed by a crash in the quarterfinals, but he remains the best-ranked rider in the world for a reason.
While only the No. 3 seed, Canada's Hill has been on a tear as of late and also figures to have a strong say in the podium proceedings. Even better, he has recently been extremely happy with his training:
Today I had one of the best days training on the Olympic course ever! I cant wait to race the… http://t.co/YcJdIR9yla— Kevin Hill (@kevinhillsbx) February 14, 2014
Hill and the usual suspects will adapt to the changes and still hit the podium when all is said and done. The delays are a negative in some aspects, but as long as the course itself remains relatively the same with few surprises for the riders, the best will still emerge on top.
Gold: Alex Pullin, Australia
Silver: Kevin Hill, Canada
Bronze: Nate Holland, U.S.