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Snow cancels men’s downhill run

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SNOWBASIN — The women's World Cup downhill was canceled last year because of no snow. The first run of the men's World Cup downhill was canceled Friday because of too much snow.

Now, officials hope, Mother Nature will see fit to hit somewhere in the middle ground come 2002.

A storm pattern swung around the Great Salt Lake late Thursday, dumping the heaviest accumulations of snow in the northern portions of the state.

By midday Friday, Snowbasin had more than a foot of new snow and more was expected.

"We're doing everything we can to get this race off," said John Dakin, venue press officer at Snowbasin.

More than 500 volunteers, along with personnel and equipment from the resort, tried desperately to remove flakes as soon after they fell as possible.

"Between shoveling and scraping snow off the course and trying to pack down what we couldn't take off, crews work through the day and will probably work well into the night to prepare the course for Saturday's race," said Dakin.

"It's important we get this race off. We did have two good days of training, so the athletes did have the opportunity to ski the course. But we do want a race and we'll do everything we can to have one."

The schedule calls for a downhill event today and a super-G on Sunday.

The weather forecast is calling for clearing today, with a small disturbance passing late tonight, followed by clearing on Sunday.

If this same snowy pattern were to hit during the Olympics, scheduling would allow for some flexibility. At the Nagano Olympics in 1998, for example, the downhill, scheduled early in the two-week event, was snowed out and moved toward the end.

With the World Cup event this weekend, however, there is no flexibility. Following Sunday's race, skiers will pack up and immediately head for another World Cup race in Europe.

If the race is held today, the course is certain to be softer than skiers would like. Ideally, they would prefer to race on a rock-hard surface. On Wednesday, racers gave high ratings to the course but said they would prefer running on a harder surface. A series of passing storms forced crews to prepare the course four times before Wednesday's practice runs.

Austrian skiers posted some of the fastest times during training runs on Wednesday and Thursday. Daron Rahlves, considered American's fastest skiers, finished training runs in 13th and 9th positions.

If crews are able to keep the course cleared, races today will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday's super-G is also scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

E-mail: grass@desnews.com