Warm Temperatures Threaten World Cup Finals in Italy

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Bormio, Italy Mar. 14--The first World Cup Finals bringing togetheralmost all snow sports is scheduled to begin Wednesday with the alpinedownhill races, and if the unseasonal warm temperatures don't let-up,officials may have to rename the region Balmy-o.

The temperatures have reached in the 50s in the last few days, so warmthat local organizers advised skiers and snowboarders they would be ableto play golf, if they wished, at a local golf course during the Finals.In finishing 14th Tuesday in the second alpine downhill training run,Daron Rahlves (Truckee, CA) said the snow was "buttery" in the way itglazed in the warm weather.

The World Cup Finals - with events in the Bormio area and just over themountains in St. Moritz, Switzerland - bring together alpine andfreestyle skiing, cross country and nordic combined skiing, andsnowboarding. Ski jumping, another sport governed by the InternationalSki Federation, will conclude its season with ski-flying in Planica,Slovenia.

The U.S. Ski Team has three athletes - Rahlves, Kristina Koznick(Burnsville, MN) and Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) - competing in the alpineraces; Rahlves won back-to-back downhills in Kvitfjell, Norway, earlierthis month, the first wins by a U.S. man since 1995, and Koznick won aslalom Friday in Sestriere, Italy.

In addition, Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Bill Demong(Vermontville, NY) will compete in nordic combined. Defending World Cupmoguls champion Ann Battelle (Steamboat Springs, CO) will be joined bysix teammates at the freestyle Finals - moguls skiers Alex Wilson(Buffalo, NY), Evan Dybvig (Tunbridge, VT) and Shannon Bahrke (TahoeCity, CA) plus aerialists Britt Swartley (Blue Bell, PA), Joe Pack (ParkCity, UT), Brenda Petzold (Andover, MA) and Kelly Hilliman (Tonawanda,NY).

Nine U.S. snowboarders will be competing at snowboard contests in nearbyLivigno: Men - Chris Klug (Aspen, CO), Jeff Archibald (Salt Lake City),Anton Pogue (Hood River, OR) and Pete Macomber (Breckenridge, CO); Women- Sondra Van Ert (Ketchum, ID), Rosey Fletcher (Girdwood, AK), StaciaHookom (Edwards, CO), Lynn Ott (Bend, OR), and Erin O'Malley (MammothLakes, CA).

The World Cup Finals schedule:

Wednesday (March 15) - alpine downhill in Bormio; moguls in Livigno;snowboard qualifiers for parallel SL and halfpipe in Livigno

Thursday (March 16) - alpine super G in Bormio; dual moguls in Livigno;snowboard PSL finals in Livigno; three-man team nordic combined(one-day) in St. Moritz

Friday (March 17) - nighttime aerials in Livigno; snowboard cross inLivigno; nordic combined individual 90-meter jumping in St. Moritz;women's 5-km and men's 10-km classic technique cross country in SantaCaterina

Saturday (March 18) - alpine giant slalom in Bormio; snowboard halfpipefinals and giant slalom in Livigno; nordic combined 15-km in SantaCaterina; women's 10-km freestyle cross country "pursuit" in SantaCaterina

Sunday (March 19) - alpine slalom in Bormio; men's 15-km freestyle"pursuit" in Santa Caterina

International Ski Federation officials said they plan to award more than25 crystal globes - emblematic of a World Cup title - during the Finals.Bormio was the site of the 1985 alpine World Championships and '95alpine World Cup Finals.