By Andrew Mitchell
Although storms brought some snow to various regions of the Alps in the past week, it was too little too late for several World Cup events that have been rescheduled or outright cancelled.
Some of the events that did take place saw warm snow and sometimes rain, as European ski resorts continue to struggle. One group of European meteorologists determined last week that the Alps — spanning Italy, France, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Liechtenstein and Slovenia — are at their warmest in 1,300 years. Scandinavian Resorts are also having trouble.
As of last week:
Alpine Skiing — Since mid-December dozens of FIS and Europa Cup races have been cancelled, although a few have been rescheduled or changed to accommodate the lack of snow. While World Cup events are taking place, some events have moved from their original locations to other resorts, and teams have been following an accelerated schedule the past week with races held every day to prevent the cancellation of events.
Conditions have ranged from ice to slush, depending on the venue, but that hasn’t stopped the Canadian Alpine Ski Team from its best start to the season in history with five medals and numerous top-30 results. Five Canadian men — John Kucera, Thomas Grandi, Manuel Osborne-Paradis, Mike Janyk and Francois Bourque are ranked in the top 30 based on the overall points list, and three Canadian women are in the top 30 — Kelly VanderBeek, Emily Brydon and Genevieve Simard.
Freestyle Skiing — Since December the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team has seen the cancellation of moguls and dual moguls events in France, and a skicross in Austria. The moguls team will compete in Russia on Dec. 23-24, before the tour moves to North America in January.
Snowboarding — To date the halfpipe team has had a two-event contest in Switzerland trimmed to just one event, and had events in Italy and Austria scaled down or postponed. The concern for members of the snowboardcross team is that they may not have any World Cup events to warm up at before the world championships in late January.
As well, the halfpipe team is holding a series of mock competitions at Calgary Olympic Park in early January to decide its World Championship team, which would ordinarily be picked based on results from actual World Cup and FIS sanctioned competitions.
Cross Country — Cross-country racers have had one event in Italy cancelled and another modified in December, and an event in Russia is being modified as well. Most of the Canadian team elected to remain in Canada for the month of December to train for the second-half of the World Cup season getting underway after the holidays. Biathlon is similar, with one contest taking place in Germany last week on a narrow strip of snow through an alpine meadow.