Persistent high winds on the Matterhorn Mountain wiped out another women’s World Cup downhill on Sunday, a day after gusts forced the cancellation of the season’s first sprint race.
The cancellations came a week after both men’s descents on the same course were canceled due to heavy snow and high winds.
The Zermatt-Cervinia downhills against the backdrop of the Matterhorn, the first cross-border races in World Cup history, were presented by the FIS last season as a potentially spectacular opener to the sprint season, but the four finishes of race week have been canceled so far.
The October and November 2022 races were not held due to a lack of snow after an unusually warm autumn.
As a result, there has yet to be a downhill race on the Gran Becca circuit, which starts in Switzerland at 3,700 meters (12,100 feet) and crosses the border to finish in Italy.
The ongoing cancellations prompted suggestions that next year the event should be moved to a later stage of the season.
“We will need in the coming weeks or months [to] sit together (the organizing committee, all stakeholders, the two ski federations and the FIS) and make the proper analysis of what happened and then decisions for the future,” said Peter Gerdol, director of women’s racing at the International Federation Ski and Snowboard Federation.
However, local organizers said they are committed to hosting races in November.
Conditions did not improve
“Sponsors in March and April are much less interested because then the summer sport is at its peak. They are interested because it is the beginning of the season,” said Franz Julen, head of the local organizing committee.
“If this sport needs speed tests at this time of year, we are the only region that can provide them because of the altitude,” adds Julen.
On Sunday, organizers pushed back the start time twice but canceled the event because conditions did not improve.
“We tried, we let the athletes inspect [the course] also, in the hope that the wind [become] less strong,” Gerdol said. “The wind dropped a little bit, but still not enough to have a safe race.”
Saturday’s race was postponed and then canceled because the lifts could not operate early in the morning and winds made conditions too dangerous for a race.
It was not immediately clear if or when the races would be rescheduled.
The wind had already reduced training opportunities during the week, with only one of three scheduled sessions taking place on Thursday.
The downhills were the first women’s races to be canceled this season, after a giant slalom in Austria and two slaloms in Finland went ahead as planned.
Defending overall champion Mikaela Shiffrin, who won a slalom in Levi a week ago for her 89th career World Cup victory, leads the standings.
The women’s World Cup continues with two more tech races, with a giant slalom and slalom scheduled for Killington, Vermont, next weekend.