Thu, Feb 08, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Norovirus at Olympics has officials scrambling

AP and AFP, PYEONGCHANG, South Korea

An athlete performs a jump yesterday in the men’s snowboard slopestyle training session at the Phoenix Snow Park, which is to host the Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard events of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Photo: EPA-EFE

The spread of norovirus at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics has officials scrambling on the eve of the biggest event in South Korea in years.

The norovirus spread began on Sunday when private security workers staying in the Jinbu area of Pyeongchang started complaining of headaches, stomach pain and diarrhea, Olympics organizers said.

About 1,200 people were kept in their rooms during tests for the contagious virus that causes stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea.

Organizers yesterday said that 32 workers are being treated and are in quarantine.

Because the sick workers handled security, 900 military personnel have been brought in to work at 20 venues until the sick and sequestered can return to work.

Meanwhile, four new events aimed at highlighting drama and faster-paced excitement are to make their Winter Olympic debuts.

BIG AIR

Spectacular jumps and spins are to be on display in Big Air, where snowboarders hurtle down a steep 48m ramp and then perform as many tricks as they can while flying through the air.

It is a bit like ski jumping, but with twirls. Athletes’ two top scores are combined for a final total.

Austrian Anna Gasser won the Winter X Games Big Air crown last month in Aspen, Colorado, and Canada’s Max Parrot won the men’s title.

Olympic sport does not get much cooler than this.

MASS-START SKATING

A pack of up to 28 competitors begin at the same time for 16 laps of a 400m oval with no lane lines. Expect a few dramatic tumbles in a race filled with strategy and jostling for position.

South Korea’s Kim Bo-reum is the women’s world champion, while American Joey Mantia owns the men’s world title in a sport he compares to US stock car racing.

“There’s bumping, there’s drafting, there’s strategy,” Mantia said. “It’s definitely more exciting to watch than standard long-track races.”

ALPINE TEAM

Alpine team competition is to feature two men and two women from 16 nations in head-to-head Giant slalom runs on a course that demands short and rapid turns.

It is on Feb. 24, the penultimate day of the Olympics, and is the final Alpine ski event.

France captured the world title last year, with Slovakia second and Sweden third.

MIXED CURLING

“It’s fast-paced, it’s high energy, a lot of athleticism, a different dynamic on the ice,” Canada’s Kaitlyn Lawes said.

Mixed-doubles curling is played by two players, one male and one female on each team. Just 22 minutes are available to talk strategy — normally it is 38 minutes.

And with only two players instead of the usual four, more nations could mount a threat.

“In today’s fast-paced world, I think a 90-minute game is going to be more popular than a three-hour game,” Canada’s John Morris said.

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