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Top Sporting Events In Extreme Winter Conditions

  • The US vs Mexico world cup qualifier was played in a snow blizzard
  • In the 1981 AFC Championships game the temperature was minus 22 Celsius
  • NHL Winter Classic games are played outside every year in a football/baseball stadium
top sporting events in extreme winter conditions

As the temperature has dropped dramatically in most parts of Europe, we can often see different athletes struggling with tough conditions. From football to rugby players who have to play in cold and snowy weather. Even skiers and other winter sports athletes can be affected by heavy winds and snowstorms. Sometimes big competitions or games can still go ahead in spite of these circumstances. Like it happened in these top sporting events in extreme winter conditions. 

Due to the rescheduled calendars in football, most leagues only had  a short winter break in order to finish the domestic competitions in time for EURO2020. But in some countries playing football in winter is not an easy job with temperatures often dropping below zero. Snow and heavy rain can also make the conditions worse and be a risk for the players’ health. Of course, in extreme weather conditions games are cancelled. But in some cases the referees decided to go ahead with the matches. Just like the organizers of the following NFL games and other events. 

The 2013 Snow Clasico is in the top sporting events in extreme winter conditions

Football players in some Northern or Eastern European countries are more used to playing in cold and snowy weather. But playing in minus 15 degrees must have been tough for even the players of Norwegian side Rosenborg and German Bayer Leverkusen. They met in a Europa League group game in 2010 where the guests managed to win 1-0 at the end. But surely both team’s players were happy to finish the game and get some warm.

Just like footballers in the US vs Costa Rica World Cup qualifier game in 2013, which got the name ‘Snow Clasico’ after. Even though the game was in March, a snow blizzard affected the hosting ground in Colorado. The game had to be stopped regularly to clear the lines which were hardly visible. US player Clint Dempsey scored the only goal of the game in the 16th minute. It wasn’t a surprise as later the conditions had only become worse.

top sporting events in extreme winter conditions
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Snowy conditions in NFL games

American football games have also been affected by snow and cold temperature several times. The 1981 AFC championship game between the San Diego Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals has been still the coldest game in NFL history. The actual temperature was minus 9 Fahrenheit (minus 22, 8 Celsius) but with the wind chill it felt minus 59 ℉ (minus 50℃). It got the name “Freeze Bowl” after as remembered by online sportsbooks news in the US. Several players got frostbites on their fingers and toes. While Bengals quarter-back Ken Anderson got frostbite on his ear. The Bengals won the game at the end 27-7 but some players felt the after-effects of the game after as well.

Players had to battle similar conditions in an NFC Championship game in 2007 when New York Giants and Green Bay Packers faced each other. In the minus 23°F with the wind chill Giants players drank hot chicken broth to warm themselves up. While others put Vaseline and rubber gloves under their football gloves. Looks like these practices worked better for the Giants as they managed to defeat the Packers. What’s more they even beat New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, which was one of the biggest upsets in NFL history. Online gambling sites in the US already offer odds for the LVI Super Bowl winner with Kansas City Chiefs being the favorites.

The coldest World Series game

MLB players also had to face bitter cold in some World Series games. The following baseball game also belongs to the  top sporting events in extreme winter conditions. It was 38°F (3,3℃) during Game 4 in the 1997 World Series between the Cleveland Indians and Florida Marlins in Cleveland. But it felt more like 18°F (minus 7,8℃) with the wind chill. The game is still officially the coldest World Series game on record. Where players had to battle with snow flurries and ice patches. These cold conditions must have been very weird for all players. Especially after playing the first two games in sunny Miami in much milder weather. The Indians won the game in the snow but the Marlins won the series at the end.

top sporting events in extreme winter conditions
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2008 NHL Winter Classic in front of a record crowd

Even though ice hockey is a winter sport, normally it is played in a heated ice rink without any snow or freezing temperature. But a special game in every NHL season, the NHL Winter Classic is played outside. Usually in a football or baseball stadium. The first Winter Classic game was held in 2008 at the Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo Sabres played against Pittsburg Penguins in front of 71,000 fans which was a record crowd then. They all joined the game in spite of the cold temperatures and the snowstorm.

2018 Winter Olympics also suffered from extreme weather

Athletes and fans expect cold weather in the locations of the Winter Olympics. But in the last Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea they had to face extreme cold. The wind was even worst and caused the postponement of several downhill ski, slalom and snowboard events. Probably ski jumpers were in the biggest danger in winds of up to 40mph (64kmh). While in the previous Olympics in Sochi, athletes suffered from the opposite, unusual warm weather. The 2014 Winter Games was the warmest Olympics ever, with the average temperature of 20 Celsius. Hopefully no one should face either conditions in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

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