Opening races at ski worlds postponed due to snowstorm

Sports

A snowcat works on the course after a women’s alpine combined race was canceled due to heavy snowfall, at the alpine ski World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Gabriele Facciotti)

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy (AP) — No fans. And two races postponed.

The women’s combined that was slated to open the Alpine skiing world championships on Monday was postponed indefinitely due to heavy snowfall. Then organizers also pushed back the men’s super-G from Tuesday to Thursday to allow more time to clear the course.

It’s a rough start for an event that was already deprived of fans due to a nationwide ban on spectators at sports competitions in Italy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A meter (3 feet) of snow has fallen since Sunday, and more was coming down on Monday afternoon, making it nearly impossible to create a hard and reliable racing surface.

The forecast calls for better weather from Thursday.

“I’m anxiously awaiting Thursday so I can see my mountains and show how beautiful they are,” said Alberto Ghezze, who is in charge of the courses for the organizing committee.

The start of the worlds has been moved to Tuesday with the women’s super-G.

There are separate speed courses for men and women and snow removal began earlier on the women’s course.

Aware of the forecast, organizers had already swapped the two portions of the combined, putting the slalom first and running the super-G as the second leg. The winner of the event is determined by adding together the skiers’ times from the two runs.

Mikaela Shiffrin, Petra Vlhova, Michelle Gisin and Federica Brignone are among the favorites in combined.

More than 300 course workers have been working day and night to push snow off the course.

“I’ve got enough men,” Ghezze said. “It’s the snow that has to stop.”

Making matters more complicated for course workers is the risk of avalanches.

“We’ve had five meters (15 feet) of snowfall in a month,” Ghezze said. “So we’ve got to make sure everyone is working in safe conditions.”

Next Monday is a reserve day in the schedule and a possible new date for the women’s combined.

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