Skiing: Family affair for the Eders

A FINAL snowstorm blew through just in time yesterday to wipe out the last event and leave the 12-day World Alpine Championships one race short of completion, the first time this has happened since the competition began in 1931. After a few days of calm, which allowed racing to continue, winter returned and sent the men home without having competed in the super-giant slalom.

Earlier in the day, the women had managed to finish their super- g. The German, Katja Seizinger, won the gold medal in 1min 33.52sec, ahead of Sylvia Eder, of Austria, who clocked 1:33.68, and Norway's Astrid Loedemel with 1:34.07.

Officials of the governing body of international skiing, the FIS, were faced with the problem of how to get the missing race staged as the situation had never arisen before. A decision will be taken later in the month. But few eyebrows will be raised if the Austrian, Stefan Eberharter, keeps his champion's title from 1991 in the lightly regarded discipline for a few more weeks or two more years.

It was snowing during the women's event, but it was not the blizzard that arrived later. 'I was annoyed from missing a medal in the downhill (she was fourth),' Seizinger said. 'I was able to maintain my feeling from that race.'

The championships were a joy for Austria's Eder family. Sylvia and her younger sister, Elfi, won medals, Elfi collecting bronze in the slalom. 'This will bring happiness for all of us,' Sylvia, 27, said. 'Elfi talked to me after her race and that helped me a lot. I was able to relax and race well despite all the delays and cancellations.'

Japanese officials managed to ignore the competitors' criticism of the downhill course, which most called too easy. 'The courses were approved by the FIS and not the athletes,' said the head of the organising committee, Yoshiako Tsutsumi, who also happens to own the Shizukuishi ski resort and much of the land in the area. 'These championships were a great success for the Japanese people.'

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