Stormy Weather Wipes Out Opening Races

By ERICA BULMAN
The Associated Press
Sunday, February 4, 2007; 2:47 PM

ARE, Sweden -- Stormy weather prevented the start of the Alpine Skiing World Championships on Sunday for the second day in a row.

Like the men's race a day before, the women's super-G was postponed because of heavy snowfall, strong wind and warm temperatures that made the lower part of the course dangerously soft.

"There is a Swedish saying that if you want snow, schedule a downhill race. But if you really want a lot of snow schedule a world championship," organizing committee race director Jan-Erik Hedstrom said.

The men's super-G, which was scheduled to open the championships Saturday, was rescheduled for Monday, while the women's race will be staged Tuesday.

"I am optimistic for the men's super-G," said FIS men's race director Guenther Hujara, who added that course workers were trying to clear the course of snow drifts as deep as 16 to 20 feet.

The start would probably be lowered by about 980 feet.

"It's the only realistic start position right now," Hujara said. "If we are more successful through the night (at clearing the course), we will try to get a higher super-G start."

About 8 inches of snow has fallen since Friday, with heavy wind snowdrifts of up to 5 feet on the women's course.

"It was a combination of things," U.S. women's coach Patrick Riml said. "The snow at the top was actually pretty good, pretty hard, but it was not so good in the middle and at the bottom of the course. There was no way they could run the race."

Organizers said seven machines called snow-cats were working on the men's track, and about 700 people working on both courses. They were given a break during a snowstorm on Sunday afternoon and were expected to work through the night.

Meteorologist Pia Hultgren said the wind and snowfall were expected to subside by Tuesday, with drier weather in the forecast.

If the men's race on Monday is wiped out again, both super-Gs would be staged Tuesday.

The race postponements mean the men and the women will both lose a downhill training session. They will each have two official practice runs instead of three.

Rules require skiers to have at least one downhill training session ahead of a race for safety reasons.

© 2007 The Associated Press