Alpine skiing World Cup finals cancelled due to coronavirus
The alpine skiing World Cup finals, scheduled for Cortina d’Ampezzo between March 16-22, have been cancelled due to the spread of the coronavirus, the Italian Winter Sports Federation announced on Friday.
The number of those killed by COVID-19 in Italy jumped to 197 on Friday with more than 4,600 cases recorded, and government emergency decrees have led to a swathe of sports events being cancelled or postponed.
The cancellation means there are just four men’s races left of a scheduled 43 and three for the women from a scheduled 37 this season.
“It is with great regret that we cancel the event but the decision was unanimous,” the Italian ski federation said.
The cancellation adds to the sporting drama in the alpine World Cup.
Both the men’s and women’s overall titles are tight affairs with Frenchman Alexis Pinturault and American Mikaela Shiffrin both under great pressure at the end of the season.
While 24-year-old Shiffrin has a run-in featuring her favoured slalom, Pinturault has a tough weekend ahead with his weaker speed events, the downhill and super-G, on the menu at Kvitfjell in Norway.
Breathing down the Frenchman’s neck are two Norwegians, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who is just 26 points adrift, and Henrik Kristoffersen at 107 points, with 100 points per-win available.
This makes the men’s downhill on Saturday and the super-G on Sunday the key battleground to decide who takes over the mantle as men’s World Cup winner.
Austrian star Marcel Hirscher retired aged 30 at the end of last season after winning eight straight overall titles.
Aamodt Kilde has a double advantage this weekend as he will be racing on home snow and is also a speed specialist.
But Pinturault said he will try his luck anyway.
“Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t set foot on that slope (for the super-G) but given the context it would be stupid not too,” the 28-year-old said.
A week later, Pinturault may be favoured when his preferred giant slalom and slalom are raced, with Aamodt Kilde not even slated to take part in the season-ending slalom at Kranjska Gora.
Shiffrin could be back next weekend at Are in Sweden after missing four weekends of action following the death of her father.
Three-time World Cup overall winner Shiffrin trails Italian speed specialist Federica Brignone by 153 points.