(ATR) Fresh snowfall blanketed Lillehammer transforming the Norwegian Olympic town into a spectacular winter wonderland.
The snow began on Friday evening and has continued through the day on Saturday. As of 7 am Saturday morning, 30 centimeters had already fallen.
Shopkeepers on the Storgata pedestrian street shovelled in front of their shops and vendors set up stands with the light, fluffy snow dumping. The mood in town was festive as visitors strolled the main street and athletes and officials boarded buses, heading out to venues.
"It’s a winter wonderland – it looks beautiful, it’s stunning," said Claudia Friedrich, a volunteer from Munich, Germany, who just arrived two days ago. "It’s been a long time since I’ve seen snow, so I’m so happy to be here."
Norwegian National Olympic Committee communications director Magnus Sverdrum said the new snow will liven up the ambiance and shouldn’t cause any substantial problems.
"It is great to see the winter landscape really come alive today," Sverdrum told Around the Rings, while at the hotel Pellestova at Hafjelltoppen – high above the alpine and freestyle skiing venues. "I don’t think it puts any brakes on the events – it just lightens up the Winter Games.
"This is quite normal for winter sports events in Norway and we can actually cope with this," he said.
The snow is expected to continue into Saturday evening.
The debut of women’s monobob went off without any problems despite the weather. Ladies piloted sleds around the 16-curve Hunderfossen track, just north of Lillehammer, in a magnificent winter setting.
"It was the first time today that we slid on this track in snow all week and it was obviously a bit challenging at the start," said British monobob bronze medalist Kelsea Purchall. "I felt I could have done better in these weather conditions, but I did have my fastest time at the start."
"It’s a surprise – there’s lots of snow and it’s so beautiful," said Korean team official Lee Wontae, "I hope that PyeongChang will have as much snow as Norway."
As the new snow was forecasted, four events scheduled for Saturday were already moved up to Friday’s program.
Four outdoor events are on the schedule for Saturday: men’s and women’s monobob at the Olympic Sliding Center, Parallel Mixed Team Alpine skiing at Hafjell and Nordic Mixed Team at the ski jumping arena and Birkebeineren cross country stadium.
"The guys at the venues have done a great job clearing the snow from the slopes," Sverdrup said. "We don’t expect any significant delays."
The Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer draw to a close on Sunday, Feb. 20, with what is expected to be a modest closing ceremony.
Written by Brian Pinelli in Lillehammer
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