World Cup Skiing: Hurricane-Force Winds Cause Cancellation of Women’s Giant Slalom in Semmering Monday, Slalom Still Green-Lit Tuesday

It was an elating-yet-disappointing morning in Semmering for Slovakian speed specialist Petra Vlhová.

Hurricane-force winds in Semmering
Cable cars are blown by hurricane-force winds during a pause of the women’s World Cup giant slalom, in Semmering, Austria, Monday, Dec. 28, 2020. The race will be rescheduled at a different location later in the season. (Image: AP)

With a technically sound and fast bottom half of the course, she topped the leaderboard after the first run. But by the start of the second run, hurricane-force winds of speeds up to 62 mph laid waste to the finish area as gusts started blowing away safety fencing, rolling over sponsor banners, throwing inflatables up to the sky, and frying electronic timing equipment.

By 1:25 p.m. local time, the second run was canceled.

“It’s a really dangerous thing, even just staying in the finish area,” said the International Ski Federation’s (FIS) race director, Peter Gerdol.

Familiar Faces on Leaderboard after Run 1

After rumors that the racers may try to pick up the second run Tuesday before the slalom event, Gerdol said the grand slalom will be rescheduled at another venue during the season, noting “now it’s too early to decide where and when.”

Overall World Cup leader Vlhová came in at 1:02.15, 0.22s faster than Italy’s Marta Bassino.

PyeongChang Olympics’ 2018 combined gold medallist Michelle Gisin (+0.35s) was a surprise third, and Mikaela Shiffrin at +0.59s was just off the podium in fourth.

Giant slalom series leader and reigning overall World Cup champion Federica Brignone couldn’t find her speed and was 1.71 seconds off the lead and in eighth place.

Night Slalom on Tuesday in Semmering Still On

Winds should subside Monday evening, and action will resume under the lights Tuesday as the women’s slalom is scheduled on the same course at Semmering. Run 1 is set to start at 3.15 p.m. (1415 GMT), with Run 2 at 6.30 p.m. (1730 GMT).

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