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Kitzbuehel: Heavy snow forces cancellation of second DH training run on Streif

Kitzbuehel: Heavy snow forces cancellation of second DH training run on Streif{mosimage}KITZBUEHEL, Austria – The second training run for the Kitzbuehel downhill was canceled Wednesday due to heavy snowfall on the legendary Streif course. Athletes spent the day doing media engagements, powder skiing and resting for the most important World Cup downhill of the season.

The weather is expected to mostly clear up by the weekend, when the Austrian town hosts the 66th Hahnenkamm races, with Saturday’s downhill as the centerpiece.

About half a meter (20 inches) of snow had covered Kitzbuehel by early morning with more snow, fog and gusty winds forecast for the rest of the day and likely into Thursday.

If Thursday’s final training is also wiped out, the race order will be determined by the World Cup’s official ranking system.

“We’ll do a little dryland, a little powder skiing, maybe a sauna,” said John McBride, the U.S. team’s DH/SG coach. “We’ll catch up on things we need to catch up on.”

Fritz Strobl of Austria was the fastest in the first training run at Kitzbuehel on Tuesday. Daron Rahlves was fourth, just days after winning the Lauberhorn downhill in Wengen, Switzerland. “There’s no question he’s fired up,” McBride said of Rahlves. “This is one of his favorites. He’ll be ready to go on Saturday.”

A final training run is scheduled for Thursday, followed by a Friday super G, the Saturday downhill and Sunday slalom.

On Thursday night, the U.S. Ski Team is planning to enter athletes in the Westendorf slalom, a FIS race under the lights with a World Cup field. Kalle Palander of Finland has won it the last two seasons. The last American to win it was Erik Schlopy in 2001.

Click here for complete coverage of last year’s Kitzbuehel races.

This will be the seventh of 10 men’s downhills on the 2005-06 World Cup calendar. Fritz Strobl of Austria leads the standings after the first six races with 415 points. Austrian Michael Walchhofer is second with 372 points and Rahlves third with 330.

The first downhill of the season was at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Nov. 27. Then came Beaver Creek, Colorado (Dec. 2); Val d’Isere, France (Dec. 10); Val Gardena, Italy (Dec. 16); Bormio, Italy (Dec. 29) and (Jan. 14). The only remaining races are at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany (Jan. 28); Chamonix, France (Feb. 4); and Are, Sweden (at the Finals, March 15).

The Olympic men’s downhill is on Feb. 12.

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