Downhill training delayed because of absentee truck | VailDaily.com

Downhill training delayed because of absentee truck

Nate Peterson

‘Twas the day before downhill training, the kickoff of the World Cup, but no one had skis because of a missing … truck?

Yes, a truck, as in a giant 16-wheel Budget moving truck carrying 60,000 pounds of ski equipment from last weekend’s World Cup stop in Lake Louise, Alberta, to Avon for this weekend’s Birds of Prey downhill and super-G competitions.

The absentee truck, which is expected to arrive this morning between 7-9 a.m. has thrown a kink into today’s downhill training. Instead of starting at 11 a.m., the downhillers are now scheduled to begin runs at 1 p.m.

“Whatever happens depends on the arrival of the truck,” said F.I.S. Chief Race Director Guntar Hujara at the downhill training captain’s meeting Tuesday night at the Beaver Creek Park Hyatt. “If the truck is too late, and it’s not enough time to do the training run, then we would have to cancel the training run.”

The truck is only one major problem that the F.I.S. (International Skiing Federation) and Beaver Creek officials are facing.

With warm temperatures throughout Europe limiting snowfall, next weekend’s World Cup downhill and giant slalom in Val d’Isere, France, is in jeopardy of being cancelled, depending on snow control checks today. If the race is nixed, then one possibility would be to hold another downhill on Friday on the Birds of Prey in place of the Val d’Isere downhill.

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“Under normal conditions, I am not entitled to say anything about a cancellation such as Val d’Isere and the option of having the race here,” said Hujara. “In this case, I gave you the information that there is an option. Nothing is official. There is no official confirmation from anyone in the world that the Val d’Isere races have been cancelled.”

Nothing is official with today’s race-training schedule as well, considering that the aforementioned truck has stalled more times in the last two days than Ben Affleck at the altar.

First, the truck arrived at Lake Louise five hours late. Then, the driver of the truck was supposed to be off his shift at midnight on Sunday, two hours after he started driving. Then, the truck got stopped by the Canadian police for being 300 pounds overweight. Then there was a problem with paperwork at customs because one team official forgot to document the value of the items on board.

“Out of all four scenarios, all four went bad,” said Jim Roberts, chief of race for the men.

The truck was traveling exactly 62 mph with 740 miles to go at the time of the meeting Tuesday night, meaning that it should arrive before 8 a.m. this morning. With unloading and mandatory equipment inspection, though, expected to run to 12:45 p.m., along with the possibility of more bad luck, there is the chance that training could be cancelled if it gets to be too late in the afternoon.

“We want to have a training run tomorrow.” said Hujara. “We have 45 minutes from the end of inspection to the start. There’s still half-an-hour to go back because of the light and visibility situation, but not too much longer after that, because everything is pretty much in the shadow and it causes safety problems.”

Along with discussing the truck situation and the possibility of Val d’Isere cancellation, a lottery was held at the captains meeting to determine start positions for training runs today.

Reigning World Cup downhill champion and current leader Stephan Eberharter of Austria was awarded the first pick and got the prime 15th position, while teammate Michael Walchhofer got the 14th spot.

Other notables were Daron Rahlves and Bode Miller of the United States at 11 and six respectively, and Austria’s Hermann Maier at 21.

Nate Peterson is a sports writer for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 608 or via npeterson@vaildaily.com.