Women's downhill cancelled
Overall World Cup leader Lindsey Vonn criticized organizers for cancelling Thursday's World Cup downhill training in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, for the third straight day, a move that permanently wiped out one race in the American's best discipline.
The announcement — because of heavy fog — was made at 1 p.m. local time. Usually, organizers wait until 2 p.m. to see if they can get training or a race in.
"I think they could have gotten it done," Vonn said. "It's really disappointing. All the athletes were like, 'Are you serious? It's only one o'clock, why are we going down already?' "
A blizzard dumped 140 centimetres of fresh snow on the Olympia delle Tofane course earlier in the week. With warm temperatures following the storm, the air was filled with moisture, causing bad visibility.
But as Vonn spoke shortly after the cancellation, sun was creeping out from behind clouds hovering over the course.
"I mean they could have waited," she said. "I don't mind waiting if they're going to try and get it off. I think everyone is really antsy to get a run in."
A revised schedule calls for downhill training Friday, a downhill race Saturday, a giant slalom Sunday and perhaps a super-G Monday.
A second downhill that had been rescheduled from Lake Louise, Alta., earlier this season will not be made up.
"This downhill is now formally cancelled and will not be replaced," said Atle Skaardal, women's World Cup race director.
World Cup rules require at least one training session to be held before a downhill race.
"We had no chance in the end and I'm quite confident it was the right decision," Skaardal said of Thursday's cancellation. "With perfect sunshine and a blue sky we would have run. But it's the complete situation. If the course is not excellent and the weather is really bad you can't force it.
"We had not more than maybe 15 minutes it would have been OK for the entire course. We had fog on the top part, and fog on the lower part."
Vonn posted her first podium finish in Cortina five years ago and won the prestigious downhill last year. She has five podium finishes overall on the Olympia delle Tofane course and 11 top-10 results.
'The hill looks great'
There will now be seven downhills this season instead of eight. Besides winning the overall World Cup title last season, Vonn also took the downhill crown.
Only two downhill have been run this season. Vonn won one and finished third in the other to hold a 160-126 lead over Switzerland's Dominique Gisin in the discipline standings.
She noted that there was no live TV to worry about for the training session, and pointed out that workers had done a great job of removing the fresh snow from the course.
"The hill looks great," she said. "I guess the priority is the downhills, but they want to get the GS in too. Honestly, GS would be much harder to get off on this type of snow than super-G."
Two years ago in Cortina, Italian skiers Karen Putzer and Denise Karbon placed first and third in a GS, and local organizers are eager to get in another GS — typically Vonn's weakest event.
"We can't just push the organizers to say we're running a downhill," Skaardal said. "We like to keep the program. When we have scheduled the GS for Sunday and we have the possibility to race it, we won't take it away to put another race in. The people sitting down to the TV want to see a GS on Sunday, because that's what has been announced."