Season-ending ski races canceled, Kilde wins World Cup title

Sports

Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde celebrates after finishing second in a alpine ski, men’s World Cup downhill, in Kvitfjell, Norway, Saturday, March 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Gabriele Facciotti)

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LONDON (AP) — The season-ending men’s World Cup ski races were canceled Thursday to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, giving Norwegian skier Aleksander Aamodt Kilde his first overall title.

Giant slalom and slalom races were scheduled for this weekend in Kranjska Gora, near Slovenia’s border with Italy.

The cancellations mean Henrik Kristoffersen, another Norwegian, becomes the season champion in both disciplines by tiny margins.

A four-race finals week in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, was canceled last week by the International Ski Federation.

“The health and welfare of the athletes and all other participants, as well as the general public are in the forefront and the priority of FIS and all stakeholders,” the governing body said Thursday.

Kilde’s runner-up finish in what proved to be the season-ending race — a downhill last Saturday in Kvitfjell, Norway — lifted him to the overall title above French rival Alexis Pinturault.

Pinturault also finished runner-up to Kristoffersen in giant slalom. Another Frenchman, Clement Noel, was runner-up to Kristoffersen for the season-long slalom title by only two points, 552-550.

Kristoffersen had an outside chance of winning the overall title if the final two races had gone ahead.

Kilde succeeds Austrian great Marcel Hirscher, who won eight straight overall titles before retiring in the offseason.

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