Twenty-one skiers named to represent the United States in the World Alpine Ski Championships still don't know whether they'll be allowed to compete in the two-week racing festival at Sallbach, Austria.
American racers were pulled out of races in France and Switzerland last week when war broke out in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. Ski Association met Sunday but made no decision on sending the 12-man, 9-woman team to join 47 other national teams."We are looking at the different possibilities for competition, including whether to compete in Saalbach, or to integrate the team members into the existing international schedule in the U.S.," U.S. Ski Team spokesman Tom Kelly said.
Team officials planned more talks Monday, but Kelly said he couldn't say when a decision would be made.
"We have no specific timetable at all. We look at the situation each day, and we look at any new information," he said.
"We are not going to do anything unless the safety of the athletes is taken into great consideration. I've been talking to athletes and coaches, and there isn't anybody I've run into yet that isn't happy we came back home."
Although Switzerland is a neutral, France is part of the United Nations coalition involved in the war against Iraq.
"We felt they were potential targets," Kelly said.
In addition, he said team officials, worried about curtailed flights amid escalating tensions, were able to snap up a "fair number of seats on various air carriers back to Utah."
American skiers, rated as no more than longshots for a medal in any championship event, would face the additional hardship of jet lag should they be whisked back to Europe.
But Kelly said team officials didn't regret bringing the skiers home at the outbreak of war.
"We don't second-guess the decision at all," he said.
Kelly said if the United States decides to compete, travel arrangements wouldn't present an impossible obstacle.
"We got them out pretty quick, didn't we?" he said.
The ski championships are scheduled to begin with the men's slalom on Tuesday. Opening ceremonies planned for Monday were canceled by organizers on "moral and ethical grounds because of the political situation" in the Middle East.
Austrian authorities increased security as the teams began arriving over the weekend. Police stopped and checked all vehicles driving on the only road leading to the resort.