Start of ski worlds delayed for third day

Monday, February 5th 2007, 7:58 am
By: News On 6

ARE, Sweden (AP) _ The start of the Alpine Skiing World Championships was postponed for a third day Monday due to strong winds and poor visibility.

The men's super-G, which had already been postponed from Saturday, was moved to Tuesday.

The championships will now open Tuesday with both the men's and women's super-G's _ one race run right after the other. The women's race was postponed Sunday.

``We waited for snow for four months, so we can't start complaining now,'' International Ski Federation president Gian Franco Kasper said. ``The decision to cancel the race today was the right one.''

Swedish skier Patrik Jaerbyn said he believed the course was unsafe to race.

``It's lethally dangerous to ski the way it is now,'' Jaerbyn said. ``It's too windy and the surface is in too bad a shape.''

The World Cup ski circuit has been plagued by warm temperatures and a lack of snow in the European Alps all season.

``If we had the world championships three weeks ago in Europe there would have been no snow,'' Kasper said. ``You can never really plan these things.''

It's not the first time the worlds have been hit by weather problems.

The 1995 championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain, were postponed by a year because the resort had no snow.

At Morioka, Japan, in 1993, the worlds experienced some of the worst weather in skiing history.

Day after day, the men's and women's speed events _ downhill and super-G _ were set back by a combination of snow, wind and rain. Slaloms and giant slaloms were moved up as officials waited for acceptable weather. When they got it, they ran both downhills the same day.

They never got in the men's super-G at Morioka, the first time that a full program of events wasn't completed at a worlds or Olympics.

``We have a lot of time left,'' Kasper said. ``The championships are 16 days. There is plenty of time still. But I will be more relaxed when the downhills are done.''

The downhills in Are are scheduled for next weekend, but the postponements will limit the number of downhill training sessions.

After the super-G's, the next races on the schedule are the men's and women's super-combined events Thursday and Friday.

``I've known Are for 30 years and I know there are always problems when you hold races near the ocean,'' Kasper said. ``It was not a risk to give Are the championships. It was the same risk to give it to Val d'Isere or Lillehammer.''

Are is about 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the Norwegian coastline.

Austrian Alpine director Hans Pum agreed that the latest postponement was the right decision.

``It's good to have another day to prepare the course,'' Pum said.