Winter Olympics: Too much snow for downhill

They had prayed for more snow in Nagano. Yesterday they got it - just in time to make it impossible to run the keenly awaited final of the men's downhill skiing.

As the start time of 10.15am approached at Hakuba, the crowds were in good voice and the television cameras were ready. But soon after the Japanese forerunners had smoothed the course, the elite at the top of the mountain were left kicking their heels as whirling snow and fog patches made their safe and efficient progress impossible.

The event, in which the Austrians Hermann Maier and Andreas Schifferer are heavily favoured, has been rescheduled for Wednesday morning.