Rain forces cancellation of World Cup finals races

By Graham Dunbar

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, March 17 2011 7:54 a.m. MDT

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland — The duel between Lindsey Vonn and Maria Riesch for the women's World Cup overall title was put on hold Thursday when racing was canceled by poor weather.

Under International Ski Federation rules, the scheduled super-G races for women and men can't be held in the tight finals week program.

Vonn, who won four of six super-G races this season, had hoped to build on the 27-point lead she took Wednesday. The American racer was fourth in the downhill as Germany's Riesch placed out of the points in 17th.

"It's definitely disappointing. In the fight for the overall, every point counts and super-G is one of my strongest events," said Vonn, who planned to stay off her skis Thursday. "I will probably do some therapy and workouts and just try to get as much rest as I can for the last two races."

Friday's races — a women's slalom and men's giant slalom — are already in doubt with more rain, wet snow and poor visibility forecast.

"It's going to be very, very challenging," women's race director Atle Skaardal told The Associated Press. "The weather will stay like this until Friday morning and that makes it extremely difficult to even find a plan."

A further cancellation would leave best friends and rivals Vonn and Riesch with just a giant slalom on Saturday, worth 100 points to the winner, to decide the title.

The race hill in Lenzerheide was shrouded in clouds Thursday and the day's program was scrapped before 8 a.m. local time.

"It is something between snow on the top and rain at the bottom, which makes (the course) wet and sticky," Skaardal said in a telephone interview. "You wouldn't have any visibility and it's creating impossible snow conditions on the hill."

Skaardal said safety was also compromised because support poles for the course-side nets could not hold in the soft snow.

Vonn already had sealed her third straight super-G discipline title and will receive her crystal globe trophy on Friday.

The men's super-G title will be awarded to Didier Cuche of Switzerland for the first time, adding to the fourth downhill title he won Wednesday.

Ted Ligety of the United States also could benefit from more bad weather. The new world champion in giant slalom also leads the World Cup standings and will take a third crystal globe in four years if Friday's race is canceled.

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