Skiing: Deadline today for world event

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The Independent Online
Organisers of the World Championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain, said yesterday that they were clinging to hopes they could hold the event next week but admitted time was running out with weather mild and no snow forecast.

The final say on the fate of the tournament will be made by 2pm today after a further snow and temperature check. "We are optimistic with a headache," Gian Franco Kasper, the general secretary of the international ski federation, the FIS, said on Wednesday. "We have two alternatives, to come back in March or next year.

"Looking at the long-range weather forecast, my personal opinion is that the only alternative [if the championships have to be cancelled] is to come back in 1996."

Paez agreed but said that the organisers were doing everything possible to ensure the event went ahead, despite one of the worst droughts in Spain this century which has deprived the Sierra Nevada of all but artificial snow.

"We are making all kinds of efforts, and we are looking at the sky every five minutes," Paez said. "If conditions are not right to hold the event, it would be a big mistake to start the championships and not be able to finish."

The downhill piste has been shortened because of a lack of snow at the top of the run. The giant slalom piste needed more snow and the main problem lay in the approach to the pistes from the lifts.

Kasper said security headaches raised by a shortage of snow on the fringes of the pistes had been solved and he praised the Spanish committee for their efforts.