World Cup skiing finals in Italy canceled over coronavirus, narrowing Shiffrin’s shot at overall title
Three-time World Cup overall winner is returning to racing after a month-long absence
VAIL — The International Ski Federation announced Friday that it is officially canceling the World Cup finals set for March 18-22 in Cortina, Italy, due to concerns of over the spread of the coronavirus.
Mikaela Shiffrin announced Thursday that she was returning to the circuit in Europe after a monthlong absence following the death of her father, but now she has only one set of races left in Åre, Sweden — if she enters — to try to erase her 153-point deficit to Italian rival Federica Brignone.
Considering the virus, the Italian Winter Sports Federation was hoping to host the finals, scheduled for March 18-22 in Cortina d’Ampezzo, without fans. But during an emergency International Ski Federation board meeting Friday, every nation besides Italy voted to cancel the event, the Italian federation said.
“It’s with great disappointment that I accept this decision,” Italian federation President Flavio Roda said. “Every member of the board made their decision based on limitations that their respective governments have imposed in relation to the virus.”
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World Cup rules prevent the finals from being moved to another location.
Nearly 150 people have died in Italy, the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe, and more than 3,000 have tested positive for the virus. Many nations have imposed travel restrictions to Italy.
A total of nine events were scheduled for Cortina: four men’s races, four women’s races and a team parallel event.
The cancellation leaves only two weekends of racing left for the men, with Alexis Pinturault leading the overall standings, 26 points ahead of Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and 107 points ahead of Henrik Kristoffersen.
Marcel Hirscher, who won the overall title the last eight years, retired before this season.
The men’s title will be decided by speed races in Kvitfjell, Norway, this weekend and tech races in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, next weekend.
Shiffrin announced in a video Thursday morning across her social media platforms that she was returning to racing. At the time, she said, “I have no promises that I will actually be able to race.”
Presumably, that had a two-fold meaning — whether the Åre events were, in fact, happening and whether she’ll be up to it on the race days. The women are competing in parallel slalom, giant slalom and slalom.
Shiffrin added that she has no goals for her return except “to make a few good turns.”
However Shiffrin is feeling on a particular day or regardless of her goals, Åre is comfortable place for her to return. It was the site of the 2019 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships when she won super-G and slalom gold as well as bronze in the GS.
What’s more, Shiffrin has made 12 additional World Cup starts at the venue, dating back to March 9, 2013, when she was 17. She has four career wins in Are, her last coming at the 2018 World Cup finals slalom.
While everyone would like to see the Hollywood ending with Shiffrin racing to victory in these upcoming races, dialing down expectations is probably best. One never underestimates what Shiffrin can do on skis, but she admitted in her video that while she has been able to train a bit she understandably has had trouble maintaining her focus as well as she has in the past.
If she is mentally, emotionally and physically up to it, it probably would be a good experience returning to a World Cup, racing, getting back into a semblance of what she and her family are calling “a new reality,” and letting the results fall where they may.
This story is from VailDaily.com.
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