Tomba sparks rumours by his absence

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The Independent Online

Alberto Tomba's absence from the opening events of the Alpine World Cup season at Tignes, France, this weekend has provoked questions, but while he is training in California there are no answers. Has the Italian retired, as he has hinted before? Is the overall cup holder still miffed about rule changes?

While Tomba misses tomorrow's men's giant slalom, Vreni Schneider, who won her third World Cup overall title last season and then retired, will ski in the women's race.

Tomba's displeasure about the rules, shared by Slovenia's Jure Kosir and Luxembourg's Marc Girardelli who are among the favourites tomorrow, centres on the decision to have the fastest 30 racers in the morning start the second run in reverse order. Some skiers contend that could give underdogs the benefit of better snow conditions.