Val d’Isère races cancelled

1st December 2011, by Chris Gill

Not looking its best for December. Val d'Isère waits for more snow.

Not looking its best for December. Val d'Isère waits for more snow.

Europe’s snow drought has forced more World Cup races to be cancelled. This time it’s Val d’Isère’s 2011 Criterium event, due to take place on 10-11 December. It’s the second blow for the French resort, which also watched one of its classic après-ski bars, Bananas, burn in a fire on the opening weekend.

The Critérium de la Première Neige is usually a highlight event on the Alpine World Cup circuit, and Val d’Isère classic season opening event; everything was ready and waiting except the snow. The drought and recent mild weather has forced officials to call it off for this year – in the French resort at least. Instead, three of the four races will move to Beaver Creek in the USA.

Despite attempts to keep snow cover on the competition runs, the women’s super-combined and super-G and the men’s giant slalom and slalom events fell victim to the bare slopes by mid-afternoon Wednesday, following an inspection by the International Ski Federation (FIS). It’s the second time this season: events in Finland were called off due to no snow cover at all in Levi last month.

In steps Beaver Creek, already the venue for three World Cup races this season. The plan is for the men’s giant slalom to take place next Tuesday, the women’s super-G on the Wednesday and the men’s slalom on Thursday.

So, instead of the Face black run in France, the racers will battle it out on the Bird’s of Prey course in Colorado. The US team are confident of a good result on their home turf, especially Bode Miller – winner of three World Cup wins there.

Didier Cuche of Switzerland is the one to watch, winning last weekend’s downhill in Lake Louise, Canada, and a second place in the super-G. He was reportedly fast in training on Wednesday.

And the snow in Beaver Creek? They report 130cm base, although it still looks a little thin in the webcam shots. But light snowfall is expected over the weekend.

Contrary to the scary images of bare pistes in Val d’Isère, the resort is not totally devoid of snow. There is cover on the upper mountain and glacier, which are open to early season skiers and boarders. There are 17 runs and 19 lifts open according to the resort, with a 60cm cover. Some snow is forecast for French resorts over this weekend. Fingers crossed.

The resort does have snow up top; it needs more but is open.

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