Betschart, Sullivan lose World Cup opportunities
SNOWBASIN, Utah – No one informed Mother Nature that ski races were scheduled for the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics over the past weekend. The entire schedule – two downhills and a super-G – was wiped out day by day, due to a consistent and copious snowstorm.
During Saturday’s cancellation announcement, race director Gunther Hujara
deadpanned, “We had to cancel today for lack of a race hill. We could not find the race hill.”
More than 16 inches of new snow had blanketed the course overnight.
Local racers were among those affected by the program change. Marco Sullivan of Squaw Valley lost his chance for a World Cup downhill debut, while teammate Wisi Betschart of Heavenly had expected to return to racing’s highest circuit.
Both racers now head to Nor-Am races at Whistler, British Columbia.
World super-G champion Daron Rahlves of Sugar Bowl will travel to Kvitfjell, Norway, for downhills March 2-3, plus a super-G March 4. There he will attempt to relive last year’s glory, when the 27 year-old won back-to-back downhills on the same course.
Regarding the canceled Snowbasin races, the future site of the 2002 Olympic downhill is still a go, according to race organizers. IOC rules state that a new course must be run as a “test” site, prior to the Olympic event. By pulling off two well-organized training runs last week, Snowbasin is secure for next winter’s Olympiad.
At least one local downhiller got an unanticipated boost from those two training runs. US Team coach Bill Egan stated in a press conference, “Oh, this one kid, Marco (Sullivan). You just have no idea. He is such a good turner and he carries wonderful speed. He is a great talent – this kid excites me. If he’s not here next year, I’ll be very surprised.”
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