‘Weather or not to race, again
Daily Sports Writer
BEAVER CREEK ” Nobody at Thursday’s World Cup team captains’ meeting denied that the super-G course conditions were difficult.
The debate of the day, however, was whether or not the race should have been held.
“It’s always difficult to run a race like this,” said International Skiing Federation Chief of Race Director Gunter Hujara. “It’s easy to sit back and say the conditions are critical and cancel the race. But, it’s also a duty of the race jury, and my duty, to take care that we are able to run races.”
At Thursday’s news conference, Hujara defended the decision to run the race.
“I have heard so many things from coaches,” Hujara said. “We understand all (the racers’) points, and they are all well taken. But there was not one fall today, and that proves that safety was our concern.”
Hujara said he understood why the racers could be upset, but that he was not happy with the number of people that had criticized Race Director Helmut Schmalzl’s decision making.
“I trust (Schmalzl) 1,000 percent, and I do not allow your racers to (question his integrity) because he has done more for these racers than they give him back. He does not deserve words like this.”
Hujara told Swiss coach Martin Rufener that he was disappointed with the criticism that came from the Swiss skiers, as well as their conduct on the race course.
“I got so many phone calls from people watching the race at home, and it was not only your racers,” Hujara said to Rufener. “They showed behavior in the finish area which in other sports would immediately disqualify the racers, so please take care that your racers behave. (Complaining) between the racers and me, that’s one thing. But if you do that in public, that’s another thing.”
After the race, several racers opined on weather or not the race should have happened.
“It was definitely not fun,” said Swiss racer Bruno Kernen. “I don’t think we do a favor for the sport when we start in conditions like this.”
Those on the podium, however, made due with what the day brought.
“The conditions were not easy,” said first-place finisher, Hannes Reichelt. “I got in the start gate and a big storm comes against me. How can I ski now? The first two gates, I adjusted a little bit because the snow was going like a hurricane. Then it was OK.”
With the weather pending, the downhill is set to being at 11 a.m.
“The forecast is not encouraging,” Hujara said. “We will have winds, and up to 10 centimeters of snow, which is a lot on this hill.”
More snow may fall this morning, and Hujara said they can possibly delay the start to 1:30 p.m. at the latest.
“There is a very humid front coming in from California, so snowfall may be heavy until Sunday,” Hujara said. “The lowest amount of snow for this week might be 30 to 40 centimeters, and the highest may be up to 75 centimeters, so maybe that gives you a better idea that (Thursday) may be the best day this week.”
After the conference Hujara was all smiles, and said he doesn’t mind taking flack for his decisions.
“I understand these guys and I’m concerned that everything runs well for them,” Hujara said. “I’m a referee. If you have either a black suit or a striped suit, you’ll take the garbage.”
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.