Wind & Snowfall Cancels Mens' Zermatt - Cervinia DH

The historic men’s Audi FIS World Cup downhill in Zermatt-Cervinia was cancelled on Sunday due to heavy snowfall that began early in the morning, strong winds and an unfavourable forecast throughout the day.

It completed a weekend of challenging weather conditions, which also forced the cancellations of Saturday’s planned season-opening downhill on the newly designed course, the first World Cup track to cross an international border.

The race jury along with the Zermatt-Cervinia Organizing Committee made the decision early on Sunday morning, to ensure the safety of everyone.

“The snowfall started at 4 o’clock in the morning – our colleagues, the race directors and chief of course were on the track from 3am onward,” said FIS Chief Race Director Markus Waldner. “The track was pretty clean, but then the heavy snowfall started exactly according to what was expected in the forecast.”

Course crews had been working hard to prepare the ‘Gran Becca’ track for racing, but substantial winds gusts on the mountain also forced the decision.

“There are strong winds on the Klein Matterhorn, we heard it’s 130 kmph, so impossible to go up today,” Waldner added. “Also, poor visibility, so unfortunately, it was easy to make this early morning decision.”

Any potential plans to contest a men’s race on Monday were also ruled out.

‘Gran Becca’ gets rave reviews despite limited exposure

While training runs scheduled for Thursday and Friday also never took place, the world’s best male speed skiers did get one chance to test the Switzerland-to-Italy cross-border ‘Gran Becca’ track.

“This downhill has the potential to be a very cool race with its amazing panorama,” said Austrian veteran and 2021 downhill and super G world champion Vincent Kriechmayr.

“It has most of the elements of a classic downhill – gliding, jumping, and you need to have a soft touch on the ski,” American racer Sam Morse added.

The ‘Gran Becca’ course was designed by 2010 Olympic champion Didier Défago and approved by the International Ski Federation (FIS) last season. The inaugural planned races for November 2022 were cancelled due to insufficient snow conditions.

The next men’s speed races on the AUDI FIS World Cup tour take place in Beaver Creek, Colorado, USA, December 1-3. Two downhills and a super-G are scheduled on the renowned ‘Birds of Prey’ course.

Norwegian ‘Attacking Viking’ Aleksander Aamodt Kilde is pursuing his third consecutive World Cup downhill title this season, having won six of 10 races in the discipline last season. Swiss skier Beat Feuz – who retired last season – won four successive downhill globes prior to Kilde’s streak.

Austrian Stephan Eberharter is the only other male skier to capture three straight downhill titles in this century, accomplishing the trifecta 2002-2004.

Kilde’s toughest opposition is expected to come from Kriechmayr, who was fastest in four downhills last season, and Swiss two-time defending overall World Cup champion Marco Odermatt. Canadian James Crawford, the 2023 super-G world champion, and Italian Mattia Casse could also pose threats.

The focus moves to women’s downhill races

The women alpine speed skiers will now descend upon Zermatt-Cervinia for their opportunity on the ‘Gran Becca’ piste. Training runs are scheduled to start on Wednesday, 15 November. Two downhills are planned for 18-19 November.

“We are now fully focused now for next weekend,” Waldner said. “It won’t be easy because we expect more snow over the next days, but hopefully we will be luckier with the weather next week.”

Zermatt-Cervinia organizing Committee president Franz Julen remains focused.

“We will not give up, we are positive – we will do everything possible to have two women’s races next weekend, which are also extremely important for us,” Julen said.

In contrast to the men who were based in Zermatt, the women’s bib draws, live music and other race festivities will take place in Cervinia this coming week.

Share This Article