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Lindsey Vonn’s WCup comeback race delayed due to snowfall

Snow covers the course of an alpine ski, women’s World Cup downhill in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. The scheduled race was canceled due to weather conditions. (Giovanni Auletta / Associated Press)
Snow covers the course of an alpine ski, women’s World Cup downhill in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. The scheduled race was canceled due to weather conditions. (Giovanni Auletta / Associated Press)
By Eric Willemsen Associated Press

ALTENMARKT-ZAUCHENSEE, Austria – Lindsey Vonn’s return to World Cup skiing has been delayed for at least a day after snowfall forced the cancellation of downhill training and the race itself on Saturday.

Organizers moved the program to Sunday, with the race set for an 1115 GMT start. A combined event, which was originally scheduled for that day, was canceled. Weather was forecast to improve overnight.

Vonn, a four-time overall champion, and American teammate Julia Mancuso planned to make their World Cup comebacks this weekend after extensive injury layoffs.

Saturday’s program was initially delayed for at least an hour as course workers were still busy moving fresh snow off the course at the scheduled start time for training, but conditions failed to improve. The snowfall would also have limited visibility for the skiers.

To shorten the distance to be cleaned, the start gate for the downhill had been lowered, which stripped the Kalberloch course of its trademark steep pitch from the initial start.

“Unfortunately the weather is not helping us,” Vonn said shortly before the race was called off for the day. “The snow is very soft. Hopefully the course workers can do something.”

Ilka Stuhec, who won all three races so far this season to lead the downhill standings, said she “would love to race.”

“But there is a limit when you shouldn’t race anymore but stay healthy instead,” the Slovenian said.

Bad weather also canceled training for the last two days, prompting organizers to reschedule the mandatory session two hours before the race. A downhill race cannot be held without prior training.

It’s the second straight season that the event has been affected by poor weather conditions. Last year, the downhill took place on a shortened course in an unusual two-run format, which was won by Vonn.

If Sunday’s program was canceled as well, the next opportunity to race for Vonn and Mancuso will be in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, where a downhill and a super-G are scheduled for next weekend. There will be one more speed event ahead of next month’s world championships, in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, on Jan. 28-29.

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