Regular downhill replaces 2-run race after training cancelled

The only two-run sprint downhill scheduled for the women’s World Cup this season has been called off after training was cancelled for a second straight day on Friday.

The international ski federation replaced Saturday’s event with a one-run downhill from a lowered start as the mandatory training session will now be held immediately before that race.

“It’s a pity,” said FIS women’s race director Atle Skaardal, adding that the traditional downhill scheduled for Sunday remained unaffected. That race will be the last before the Pyeongchang Games open next week. The women’s Olympic downhill is scheduled for Feb. 21.

Once used as an emergency solution when conditions made a proper downhill impossible, the federation is attempting to turn the two-run race on a shortened course into a regular format at the World Cup.

The 30-fastest racers from the opening leg get to start in reverse order in the final run, making sure the winner will only be known when the last racer has come down. The new format could possibly replace the unpopular combined event, which adds results of one downhill or super-G run with one slalom run.

The last downhill with two runs was held in Zauchensee, Austria, two years ago, also as a late replacement for a regular race. The event was won by 2010 Olympic downhill champion Lindsey Vonn.

Organizers first delayed Friday’s training by 2 1/2 hours before calling it off, a day after bad weather cancelled the first session. Course workers needed more time as the slope had too many weak spots after Thursday’s rain and snowfall.

“The hill transformed in some places during inspection” on Friday morning, Skaardal said. “I am confident we have a good race track ready for tomorrow.”

On Saturday, the 44 racers will do a training run over the full Kandahar course, but it will be shortened by 750 metres (820 yards) for the race two hours later.

“Doing two runs from the top shortly after each other would be too much,” Skaardal said.

Sunday’s race will be held over the full distance of nearly 3 kilometres (1.8 miles).

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