GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Daytime temperatures in Gangneung have inched above freezing during the past few days but the two Colombian speed skaters competing in South Korea are now struggling to adapt to the buffeting winds sweeping over the picturesque coastal village.
Strong winds have caused havoc with scheduling up in the mountains, with several events being postponed because of the weather and on Wednesday Gangneung got a taste of similar conditions.
The wind damaged temporary structures down on the coast, with tents set up for security screenings being toppled at the figure skating venue and in the media village.
In the mountains, 16 Pyeongchang Olympics staff and spectators were injured by flying debris.
“It’s been really hard because it’s been really windy these days,” skater Pedro Causil told Reuters after a practice session at the Gangneung Oval, the venue for speed skating.
“We have to adapt. It’s a part of sport and for winter sports it’s even harder.”
“It’s not normal for us. There’s a lot of wind,” added compatriot Laura Gomez Quintero, who will compete in the mass start. “It is really cold for us because in Colombia we don’t have this weather.”
The weather may be a far cry from what the skaters from Colombia’s tropical climes are used to, but it is a small price for them to pay for being at the Olympics.
“I’m excited,” Causil said. “It’s my first Olympics and it’s been my dream. I want to race really good, not just participate.
“I want to finish as high as I can and try to better my personal best.”
Gomez Quintero was a late call up for the Games and arrived in Korea without an official Colombian uniform, and the Dutch company that manufactures Colombia’s speed skating skin suits had to fly one out to her a few days ago.
The mass start final is on Feb. 24, the last day of action at the Oval, and the inline skater believes the competition will be the toughest she has ever faced.
“It’s a race I am used to but the competition among the girls is so strong,” she said. “It’s going to be pretty hard but I will try to go to the final and do my best.” (Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)