Despite the best efforts by race organizers in Kvitfjell, Norway, the weather dictated a cancellation of the first scheduled men’s downhill training run Thursday. A thick layer of fog on the upper section of the course and rain at the bottom hampered the best efforts of the jury to get the run off as planned. Rain pooled in low lying areas between gates, and athletes jokes that water ski skills might be required to complete the course.
With the hope that the weather would turn for the better, athletes were called out for inspection but allowed on course only from the Russi Jump down as visibility was exceptionally low above that point. After the athletes’ inspection, the jury, organizer and Werner Heel (appointed athlete representative) completed a second inspection to evaluate conditions which were jointly agreed upon to be too unfavorable to proceed.
With today’s training canceled, the schedule to hold a single training run followed by two downhill races and a super G has become even more challenging. Austrian coaches called on their speed skiers to grab as many points as possible to give technical ace Marcel Hirscher an advantage in the overall standings as the World Cup tour heads into its final weeks. Hirscher leads Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal by 58 points with five speed and four technical races remaining on the schedule. The canceled training run puts pressure on the schedule, already compressed by the addition of a race carried over from St. Moritz, and could foretell the cancellation of one of the speed races, improving Hirscher’s chances to maintain the lead. Hirscher has been battling the flu and was forced to miss the team event held Tuesday in Innsbruck while Svindal left the Olympics early when allergies bothered his breathing, so both have had to overcome recent health obstacles.
In an effort to ensure the full schedule of planned races, a training run starting at Russi Jump is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. local time on Friday, followed by the race.