Friday, October 5, 2012
Skiing plans to revive Alpine super-combined event
ZURICH -- The International Ski Federation plans to revitalize the Alpine super-combined event at classic venues after downgrading its World Cup status.
Beginning this season, the governing body will no longer give a crystal globe trophy for the season-long titles in events Lindsey Vonn and Croatia's Ivica Kostelic dominated in recent years.
Many race organizers have said the super-combined -- which tests all-around skills in separate speed and slalom runs -- is difficult to market. The 2012-13 World Cup calendar has just two men's events and one for women.
The United States has thrived in super-combined. Bode Miller won his first Olympic title at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, and Julia Mancuso captured a silver medal behind Maria Riesch of Germany.
FIS President Gian Franco Kasper acknowledged that the super-combined was important to the U.S. team.
"Of course, they should be more than happy," Kasper told The Associated Press. "It is a very interesting event, there is no question. Our intention is 100 percent to continue with it."
Alpine men's race director Guenter Hujara is optimistic about starting a revival next season with a Friday event at Kitzbuehel, Austria, ahead of the coveted downhill on Saturday.
"I am convinced that this is not only a sports model, but this is a very good business model, too," Hujara said Friday at a preseason gathering of Alpine officials and organizers.
Hujara's plan calls for Kitzbuehel's Friday World Cup super-G race to be run during the day and remain a stand-alone result. But it also would double as the first portion of a super-combined with a floodlit slalom catching large crowds coming for the downhill.
"We can have a very perfect late-afternoon or night event," he said. Kitzbuehel already has a traditional combined event, which simply adds racers' times from the downhill and the two-run slalom staged on Sunday.
Beaver Creek, Colo., was also suggested as a future super-combined host to help revive it as a "classic, highly traditional" event.
Hujara has warned that the status of super-combined, currently a medal event at the Winter Olympics and Alpine world championships, could be threatened if World Cup races are not supported.
The women's circuit has a tough time selling super-combined to sponsors and broadcasters.
"It's a very, very difficult job for the organizers" to finance a race, women's race director Atle Skaardal told Friday's meeting. "It is still difficult to find enough enthusiasm and excitement around these to have it work in the way it is supposed to work."
The only women's World Cup super-combined event this season is in February at Meribel, France. The men race at Wengen, Switzerland, in January, one week before the Kitzbuehel event.