Uncertain Conditions Cancel Utah's World Cup

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Salt Lake City, UT (AP by Tim Korte)--Next month's women's World Cup speed races on the mountain where the Olympics are to be held in two years were canceled Wednesday for lack of snow.

Alan Ashley, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team's vice president for athletics, said International Skiing Federation officials skied the course at Snowbasin to determine whether the races, scheduled Feb. 10-12, could be held.

``All the way over the first half of the course, things were looking quite good,'' Ashley said. ``Then there were places we found it was thin and not really adequate for downhill racing.''

Also canceled was an Alpine combined World Cup event that included races at Snowbasin and at Deer Valley resort near Park City. The latter resort reported sufficient snow for its race, which had been scheduled Feb. 6, but FIS rules require that both events of a combined be canceled if one cannot be held.

It's the second time this World Cup season that Utah races were canceled. Men's and women's slalom and giant slalom races in Park City went to Colorado in November because of a lack of snow.

Snowbasin remains open. Although a recreational skier might not notice a problem on the Wildflower trail, the course was deemed unsafe for racing because it would be difficult to properly install safety netting in shallow snow.

``It takes very special course preparation to ensure the safety of the athletes in terms of quality and condition of the snow,'' Ashley said.

Cathy Priestner, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee's managing director for sports, denied the cancellations indicate the venues won't be prepared in time for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

``We know the women's (downhill) course needs to be tested,'' Priestner said. ``We've been working with the FIS and we expect to offer cooperation to get another race rescheduled.''

Priestner said Snowbasin's snowmaking equipment wasn't ready to operate when the ski season began. Beginning next fall, the Olympic runs should have plenty of coverage all season.

Temperatures in the upper 30s in recent weeks also prevented Snowbasin from making snow, although the area had a storm overnight and forecasters predicted colder temperatures through next week.

Snowbasin manager Gray Reynolds said he was confident the venue could have been prepared in time, but World Cup rules require a decision 10 days before the start of training runs.

``That rule is very favorable for the athletes,'' Ashley said. ``Doing an overseas trip, with all the equipment, making all the travel connections and making it into the venue, is quite a challenge.''

FIS officials were expected to announce an alternate venue for the women's races in a few days. Ashley said the races probably would be awarded to a European site, meaning the tour likely is finished in North America for the season.

Snowbasin is the site for men's and women's downhill and super-G races during the Olympics. The next World Cup events on the course are men's downhill races in February 2001.

Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press