Strong wind cancels World Cup downhill
December 17, 2011
VAL GARDENA, Italy – Right before Bode Miller’s run, the first classic downhill of the World Cup season was canceled Saturday because of strong wind.
Despite several delays, 21 competitors had negotiated the twisty and terrain-filled Saslong course before organizers decided to call it off for safety reasons.
“I think it was the right call. If wind hits you on the camel jumps that’s a career-ending injury,” said Miller of longest jump on the course, which launches skiers into the air for more than 80 yards.
Johan Clarey had been leading the competition with a time 1 minute, 55.80 seconds, followed by French compatriot Adrien Theaux and Patrick Kueng of Switzerland.
Clarey was seeking his first World Cup victory. His best previous result was third in this downhill two years ago. He wasn’t so sure about the cancellation.
“There wasn’t so much wind on the track. It wasn’t dangerous,” Clarey said. “We’ve had so many races with windy conditions. I don’t know if (it’s because) there is two French on the top. Maybe if it was two Austrians or two Swiss it wouldn’t be the same.”
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The race started without problem, but wind caused a half-hour delay after large snow drifts were blown over the course. That prompted organizers to take down the banner above the finish line.
Men’s World Cup director Gunter Hujara called the race off just as Miller was getting ready to start.
“It was at the edge of being still safe and we did not like to risk anything and that’s why we canceled it before a bad fall,” Hujara said.
Canadian Erik Guay didn’t think it was too dangerous.
“There’s always wind – it’s an outdoor sport,” said Guay, the downhill world champion. “Most of the time I agree with Gunter’s decision but not this one. There was no reason to cancel so soon, he could have put it off a bit.”
The International Ski Federation did not immediately announce if the race would be made up later. The next downhill is in Bormio on Dec. 29.
The men’s circuit moves across the Gardena pass to nearby Alta Badia for giant slalom and slalom races Sunday and Monday. Ted Ligety of the United States will be aiming for his third GS win in four races this season.
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