Mountain skiing: Bad weather, Omicron threatens to disrupt World Cup schedule

Alpine Skiing: Women's World Cup Event Skiing at Lake Louise Audi FIS
November 30, 2021; Lake Louise, Alberta, CAN; Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States competes during the women’s downhill training at the Alpine Ski World Cup at Lake Louise Audi FIS in Lake Louise. Required credit: Sergei Belski-USA Sports TODAY

December 2, 2021

By Steve Keating

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (Reuters) – Bad weather and the emergence of an Omicron coronavirus variant threaten to wreak havoc on Wednesday’s World Cup skiing schedule as top female skiers wonder if they can race where and when.

After heavy snowfall and high temperatures wiped out two of the three men’s World Cup races last week at the upscale Lake Louise resort in the Canadian Rockies, the first speed events on the women’s schedule were disrupted when training session is cancelled.

Organizers will try to get their hands on a practice Thursday before downhill doubles are set for Friday and Saturday and a super-G on Sunday.

But storm clouds of a different kind are looming on the horizon, with the World Cup set to turn to Europe and races in Switzerland, which have imposed new restrictions to check the spread. of the Omicron variant.

Those restrictions include a 10-day mandatory quarantine for travelers from 19 countries, including Canada.

American Mikaela Shiffrin, who has started her campaign by taking to the podium in all four races she has entered, including a winning pair, told Reuters that while skiers are used to facing dealing with COVID-19 protocols, the Omicron threat is increasing anxiety. levels.

“There’s a lot of things still being worked on, including Switzerland,” Shiffrin told Reuters. “We definitely think about it.

“We are trying to be ski racers and go around the world in our own little bubble, which is a high pressure environment.

“Protocols are really important and that’s the only way we’re going to get this World Cup season going and maybe towards the Olympics.”

The next stop of the Women’s World Cup is St. Moritz with two Gs super products on December 11 and 12.

The FIS, the international governing body for skiing, is expected to apply for an exemption but Shiffrin warned that the ongoing situation is something that needs to be taken seriously.

“We are looking for exemptions and the possibility of still participating in World Cup races in specific regions with the new rules,” said Shiffrin. “It’s very serious and needs to be respected by everyone, including us.”

While COVID-19 testing and prevention procedures are now part of athletes’ daily routines, Paul Kristofic, head coach of the US women’s team, said things haven’t been easy. than.

“It’s complicated,” Kristofic told Reuters.

“From a management perspective, it’s a lot of work. It’s hard and burdensome for those who have to manage those details – make sure we’ve prepared all our tests, the right time to travel and FIS passports and entry different countries.

“We are constantly experimenting, we are constantly following very strict protocols wherever we go.

“But the anxiety about missing the races, missing the qualifying races, missing the Olympics because of the potential upsides, is super stressful and there are still really high levels of anxiety.”

(Reporting by Steve Keating; Editing by Peter Rutherford) Mountain skiing: Bad weather, Omicron threatens to disrupt World Cup schedule

Huynh Nguyen

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