World Cup slaloms under threat again

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The Independent Online

A salvage operation was underway in Maribor, Slovenia yesterday in an attempt to save two women's World Cup races this weekend.

Snow was melting because of rain and warm weather and the Pohorje Mountain course was patched up in a bid to keep today's giant slalom and tomorrow's slalom on schedule.

"As long as it does not rain solidly for 12 hours, we can have a race," an organiser said. The lower part of the track has already been ruined, and racing can only go ahead higher on the mountain.

"This reminds me of Sierra Nevada," one team official said, referring to the World Championships in Spain, called off because of lack of snow. "It's brown earth all around and just a patchy, squishy gash of white in the middle."

Should racing go ahead, one of the big favourites will be the World Cup holder, Vreni Schneider, slalom winner here last year and a winner six times at Maribor. But she last won a giant slalom in 1991 and this season her main rival in the discipline has been her Swiss team mate, Heidi Zeller- Bhler, who heads the standings.

The overall leader, Katja Seizinger of Germany, dominant in the downhill and the super-G, is also expected to compete.