BY ERIC WILLEMSEN
BAD KLEINKIRCHHEIM, Austria (AP) — The first women’s World Cup speed races in 2018 were doubtful on Friday as the snow on parts of the course was still too weak after heavy rain this week and mild temperatures.
The lower section of the Karnten-Franz Klammer course was not hard enough to stage the mandatory training for a downhill.
“It’s a difficult situation right now with the way the snow is and how they prepared the course,” Lindsey Vonn told The Associated Press. “I am not sure if we are going to be able to get a race off, but they are definitely trying as hard as they can.”
The American standout added “the top is good but the bottom is not safe to race.”
Organizers swapped the program for this weekend by pushing back the downhill to Sunday and rescheduling a super-G for Saturday.
The first downhill training on Thursday was cancelled and a race can be staged only after competitors have at least one training run on the entire course.
Only a shortened run of less than 40 seconds was held on Friday on the upper hill, which included the steep Klammer Stich with a 73-percent grade. Training on the rest of the course was planned for Saturday after the super-G.
“Of course we all want to race but the conditions have to be good,” Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein said. “I hope there will be a clear decision tomorrow morning, not postponing and waiting.”
As the skiers’ representatives this weekend, Vonn and Weirather will be talking to the race jury on Saturday when decisions are made.
“We have a strong voice,” said Vonn, adding the races should not be staged at all costs with the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang only a month away.
The last time Bad Kleinkirchheim hosted the World Cup, in 2015, both races were cancelled because of heavy winds.
Austria’s Christina Ager posted the fastest time in the short training session, followed by Sofia Goggia of Italy and Weirather.
Vonn, who failed to reach a podium in five previous races here, was 22nd.
American teammate Mikaela Shiffrin, who leads the season’s downhill standings after two events, is sitting out this weekend’s races to rest.
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