Wed, Nov 29, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Heat, lack of snow leave World Cup officials scrambling

AP , ASPEN, COLORADO

Ski officials scrambling to reschedule World Cup races canceled because of warm weather and a lack of snow in Europe have called the situation "critical."

The season-opening races last month on the glacier in Soelden, Austria, were wiped out because of heavy rain, while the women's events set for St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Dec. 9 and Dec. 10 were canceled due to lack of snow and warm temperatures. The men's races in Val d'Isere, France, on the same weekend are also in danger of being canceled.

"It's very critical, not only for racing, but it will have a big impact on public skiing," said Norway's Atle Skaardal, director of the women's World Cup. "We all have to hope for colder temperatures and snow in Europe very fast or it will be a big crisis for us if we have to continue to cancel our races in December."

The women also have races in Val d'Isere, but in the second week of next month. Those, too, could be in jeopardy if the weather doesn't cooperate.

"I talked to a lot of people in Val d'Isere to get a lot of opinions," Skaardal said. "There is only a very small chance they can make it work but they still think it's possible."

The men's and women's fields are currently on the North American swing of the World Cup tour. Because of the good snow on the western side of the Atlantic, FIS officials are working with organizers at Colorado's Beaver Creek and Aspen -- which are already set up for races -- in hopes of staging some of the scrapped events at one of the two resorts.

He said the resorts were trying to work out details such as accommodation, sponsorship and television broadcasting.

Both Beaver Creek and Aspen would prefer to take over at least two races to make holding an event financially feasible, he said.

A decision is expected today, after it is decided whether the men's Val d'Isere races will go ahead or not.

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