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Soft Snow Aborts US Nationals GS Race


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Jackson Hole, WY Mar. 29 (AP by John Mossman)–It rained early in the morning and then it warmed up, and for an already unstable racing surface, that proved too much.

Soft, deteriorating snow forced cancellation Tuesday of the women’s giant slalom in the U.S. Alpine Ski Championships.

After a first run without mishap, problems developed early in the second run.

“It was not safe to race,” said Georg Capaul, head women’s slalom and giant slalom coach for the U.S. Ski Team. “The snow just fell apart, basically, and the chemicals wouldn’t harden it. I think it’s a good decision.”

Capaul said the surface “developed a little bit of crust, but once you broke that crust, you went right down into deep stuff. That’s how you break legs.”

After aborting the second run, officials considered three options: cancel the race, reschedule the second run or declare the first-run leader, Caroline Lalive, as the winner.

“Conditions on the hill were unsafe, and it just was not going to be a fair race,” said Sarah Bergstrom, spokeswoman for the organizing committee. “So the jury canceled it.

“The organizers really tried everything _ shoveling, using chemicals, not using chemicals in other areas. But there was so much moisture in the snow. The last pitch of the hill was still good, still fairly firm. But for three-quarters of the course, it was too soft.”

Without a giant slalom, the women’s combined title will be based on just three races, instead of four. The women’s and men’s slaloms were scheduled to conclude the competition today.

The last time races in the nationals were canceled was in 1998, when the men’s and women’s super-Gs both were scrubbed _ also at Jackson.

In the first run, Lalive, 20, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., was clocked in 1 minute, 11.58 seconds, which was a half-second faster than Sarah Schleper of Vail, Colo.

The second run began at 11:45, and only two racers _ Rachel Roosevelt and Tasha Nelson _ made it down the course before there was a lengthy course hold as workers struggled to repair the deteriorating snow around two gates at Deer Bump, midway down the course. As it became clear that a larger section required repairs, officials delayed the restart until 1:30.

But when it became apparent that the surface remained unstable over most of the course, officials scrubbed the run.

“They found some big holes in the course,” Bergstrom said. “They reset part of the course and did an inspection. But the conditions were still unsafe.”

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press