Alpine ski racing at the Matterhorn will make its World Cup debut

DOSSIER - A gondola

FILE – A ‘Matterhorn-Express’ gondola lift in front of Mount Matterhorn in the Zermatt ski resort, in Zermatt, Switzerland, March 18, 2020. The new downhill ski course which crosses Switzerland and Italy next to the mount Matterhorn will debut World Cup races in October, the International Ski Federation announced on Friday. (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP, File)

PA

The newest alpine ski course that crosses Switzerland and Italy next to the Matterhorn will stage its first World Cup races in October, the International Ski Federation announced on Friday.

Available dates are October 29-30 and November 5-6 for back-to-back weekends of two runs each for men and women.

“FIS is giving sprint athletes an earlier start to the season and the Alpine Skiing World Cup an uninterrupted season thanks to two additional race weekends,” the ski governing body said.

The first downhill races of each season are currently taking place in Lake Louise, Canada, starting in late November.

The earliest possible start for the downhill season is possible on the glacial snow near the upscale resort of Zermatt on the legendary mountain. It is known as Matterhorn on the Swiss side and Cervino by the Italians.

FIS hopes the course will have environmental benefits for a sport threatened by climate change and warmer temperatures.

“All teams will be able to benefit from on-site training throughout the year,” said FIS President Johan Eliasch. “This will reduce travel to long-distance sites in the southern hemisphere.”

The high-altitude course is designed by Didier Defago, the 2010 Olympic downhill champion who is the FIS test pilot for new courses designed for the Winter Games, including in China next month.

Because a key cable car will not be completed in time, the first Matterhorn runs will be under the 3,900 meter (12,800 ft) start it will eventually use.

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Naomi C. Amerson