A blazing sun was to blame for a hole dug at the top of the women's downhill downhill course Monday.
It was so warm – about 5 or 6 degrees Celsius (41-43 Fahrenheit) – that skiers had to use what was at hand to keep cool before the downhill leg of the super-combined.
“There's probably no snow left at the start because we were all putting it down our backs,” British skier Chemmy Alcott said. “There's definitely a hole. We were like, 'Just shove it down.'”
It was even warmer in the finish area, where both athletes and fans were seen stripping off their layers.
Alcott crouched down behind a bunch of journalists to protect her fair skin. “I'm trying to hide from the sun here because I feel like I'm getting red,” she said.
The high temperatures also affected the race, with later starters having to deal with softer snow as it grew warmer and warmer.
“It was pretty warm snow and I don't think I adapted to it well,” said American racer Stacey Cook, who missed a gate. “It slides under your ski more.”
Laurenne Ross, another American, fell on the top portion of the course. Fortunately, she wasn't injured.
Taking the temperatures into account, organizers injected the slalom course with water overnight to create a harder surface in the hope that it holds up for the second leg of the super-combi, which adds the times together from one downhill run and one slalom run.
It was 9 Celsius (48 Fahrenheit) shortly before the slalom leg.
EAGLE HAS LANDED: The public has spoken. Katie Uhlaender will be going with the larger eagle on her helmet for the women's skeleton competition at the Sochi Games.
Uhlaender had two helmets to choose from and couldn't decide which design she liked best, so she turned to Twitter. A quick search of her mentions shows the helmet with a larger eagle and stars-and-stripes motif was the popular pick. She trained in the new headgear on Monday.
And she's got some gold-medal mojo working already. Turns out the helmet was painted by the artist who also did designs for some of Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street's headgear during her alpine skiing career.
“I had a helmet that I've been sliding with since Vancouver basically, with a design that was inspired by Jimmy Shea,” Uhlaender said, referring to the 2002 men's skeleton gold medalist from Lake Placid, N.Y. “And then Picabo and I hooked up in 2010 and she's been a mentor, a huge inspiration for me. I got a new helmet and she offered to hook me up with her guy who painted her helmet for the 2002 Games.”
Early returns are good: Uhlaender, of Breckenridge, Colo., was in the top eight in both of her training runs Monday, not far from the lead.