NATURE’S WAY. A snow plow clears the road in eastern Gangwon Province, South Korea on Saturday (Jan. 20, 2024). Heavy snowfall disrupted the ongoing Winter Youth Olympics for the second straight day Sunday, affecting the competition and cultural events. (Yonhap)

GANGNEUNG, South Korea – Heavy snowfall disrupted the Winter Youth Olympics taking place in eastern South Korea for the second straight day Sunday, affecting schedules for the competition and cultural events on the sidelines.

The fourth Winter Youth Games opened in Gangwon Province on Friday, with the first medals awarded Saturday.

Heavy snow that pounded the region forced the organizers to move the starting time for the ski jumping event on Saturday in Pyeongchang, some 130 kilometers east of Seoul.

The men’s Super G race in alpine skiing has been moved from noon to 1:55 p.m. and then again to 3:25 p.m. on Sunday in Jeongseon, a county just southeast of Pyeongchang.

In Gangneung, about 30 kilometers east of Pyeongchang, Choi Min-jeong, a two-time Olympic short track speed skating champion, had her one-point lesson session scrapped amid a mix of snow and rain Saturday.

Lee June-seo, the men’s relay silver medalist in 2022, couldn’t hold his clinic session Sunday due to snow and windy conditions.

All outdoor activities, performances and skating sessions in Gangneung were also canceled.

The Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) lifted a heavy snow warning on Gangwon on Sunday, though the province is expected to receive more snow into Sunday afternoon, with some rain showers in some corners.

The KMA estimated that the eastern part of Gangwon could have as much as 7 more centimeters of snow.

Between Thursday and 7 a.m. Sunday, Wangsan-myeon in Gangneung had 44 cm of snow, according to the KMA, while downtown Gangneung had just over 10 cm.

Several roads across Pyeongchang and Jeongseon had been blocked and had experienced severe congestion due to heavy snow Saturday, but local officials said conditions have since eased.

The current Winter Youth Olympics, the first to be held in Asia, will wrap up Feb. 1.

Meanwhile, South Korea will be without one of the its biggest stars as snowboarder Choi Gaon was ruled out of the competition Sunday with a lower back injury.

The Korea Ski Association announced Sunday that Choi, 15, will sit out the Winter Youth Games after hurting her back during a training session at the International Ski Federation World Cup in Laax, Switzerland the previous day.

Choi had been considered a gold medal favorite in the women’s halfpipe at the Youth Olympics. Her event is scheduled for the final day of the competition. (Yonhap)