When will the men's alpine ski season start? “Due to the heavy snowfall last night and this morning, as well as the strong wind, the jury and the organizers have decided to cancel today's descent to guarantee everyone's safety,” said at the start morning a spokesperson for the International Ski Federation (FIS). On its Twitter account, the ski authority adds “Fingers crossed for tomorrow!”, while further snowfall could disrupt the second descent scheduled for Sunday at 11:30 a.m.
We will still have to wait to witness the first men's podium of the season in the World Cup and see if the Swiss Marco Odermatt, world No.1 for the last two winters, Olympic giant champion and world downhill champion, is still as imperial. Like 46 other competitors, Odermatt started well on October 19 on the Austrian Rettenbach glacier in Sölden, but violent gusts led the jury to interrupt the first round and then cancel the entire race.
In Zermatt-Cervinia, the first cross-border stage in the history of the world circuit, the winter conditions for three weeks seemed more favorable than last year: the first edition had been canceled due to the lack of snow at the bottom of the route, so that the race starts from a glacier at an altitude of 3,800 m. But if the sun offered an almost ideal first training session on Wednesday, allowing skiers to discover the “Gran Becca”, the return of the snowflakes forced the cancellation of the two other sessions on Thursday and Friday.
Fresh snow is particularly critical for speed races -- downhill and super-G -- since it degrades the usually smooth surface of the track and eliminates all visibility as competitors are launched at more than 100 km/h. As for the wind, it disrupts the trajectory of skiers on the jumps and also poses a problem of sporting fairness: depending on its strength and direction, it speeds up certain passages and slows down others.
If Sunday's descent is maintained, it will force the downhillers to measure their risk-taking since they will only have limited knowledge of the track, unlike classics like Beaver Creek, Bormio, Kitzbühel or Wengen.
New race on the world circuit, supposed to create an “opening of speed” while Sölden starts the winter for technical specialists, Zermatt-Cervinia also arouses controversies over its impact on the environment. the Swiss newspaper 20 minutes revealed in October images of excavators digging the Théodule glacier to prepare the Gran Becca, partly outside the authorized ski area, the Valais justice system contacted by several associations has since confirmed.
The organizers assured that stopping work in this section would have no impact on the holding of the events, and Swiss ski boss Urs Lehmann recalled that “no one would have skied on a glacier for decades” without bulldozers to secure them. But Zermatt-Cervinia illustrates a little more the artificialization of the mountain to hold sporting events there, even though the effects of warming there are spectacular - a dilemma already illustrated by the holding of the 2022 Beijing Olympics on arid slopes. , or by the helicopters and snow trucks used in 2017 to prepare for the legendary Austrian descent from Kitzbühel --.