Winds cancel women’s World Cup downhill in Bansko
A women’s World Cup downhill scheduled for today (Feb. 25) in Bansko, Bulgaria was canceled due to persistent, high-speed winds.
Gusty conditions arrived in the area Friday night but officials and a packed arena of fans at the bottom of the course held onto hope that the race could be still be held today. The start was delayed three and half hours while racers waited at the top of the mountain. Organizers eventually lowered the start, eliminating 10 gates but the winds at the new start remained too strong to safely run the race.
Today’s race was to be the eighth and penultimate women’s downhill of the season. American Lindsey Vonn clinched this season’s downhill World Cup title last week in Sochi, Russia after winning four races throughout the season and claiming two other podium finishes.
Weather has been challenging for the women’s tour all season, seven races have been either canceled or rescheduled due lack of snow, too much snow, wind or fog.
With only three weeks until the World Cup finals in Schladming, Austria and only technical races on the schedule until then, it’s impossible for today’s race to be rescheduled.
“In the morning there was no chance at all and as the day went on the gusts became less consistent, but they were still really strong,” said U.S. coach Alex Hoedlmoser. “If we did go, it would have been just such an unfair and unsafe race. Sometimes it was coming from behind and sometimes it was a headwind.”
Today's cancellation guarantees that six American women have qualified (within the top 25 of the downhill rankings) to compete at the World Cup finals. Vonn leads the way in first followed by Julia Mancuso in sixth, Stacey Cook in eighth, Laurenne Ross in 22nd Alice McKennis in 24th and Leanne Smith in 25th.
“Even without today's race, we got everybody in the World Cup Finals, that is pretty cool,” said Hoedlmoser of his team that stands at the head of the downhill team rankings. “Having the whole team there, six of them, that is pretty sweet and a huge testament to the hard work of the athletes and our coaches.”
A women’s super G remains on the scheduled here for Sunday when winds are expected to die down.
Image by Gepa