Winterstart gets a boost 

While the future of World Cup alpine skiing events at Whistler and Apex are uncertain, the annual Bombardier Lake Louise Winterstart speed events are secure through 2012 with a four-year extension from the International Skiing Federation (FIS).

The announcement came with the approval of a tentative schedule released by the FIS World Cup Committee this week.

“There is a very proud tradition of World Cup ski racing at Lake Louise as the host of the first speed events of the FIS World Cup season and North America’s only Club 5+ World Cup site,” said race chairman John Cassels.

Club 5+ refers to an organization of perennial World Cup hosts recognized for the best courses in the world. Only 13 courses are included, including resorts like Kitzbuhel, Austria and Wengen, Switzerland, and Lake Louise is the only North American resort in the club.

FIS council is expected to approve the schedule at its meeting in November.

Lake Louise will host men’s downhill and super G races on Nov. 29-30, and a pair of women’s downhill events on Dec. 5-6.

The committee did more than put a schedule together for the next four years. Other recommendations to come out of the meeting include a transition to single pole slalom races, and new equipment rules allowing downhill racers to wear protective body armour under their suits. FIS is also launching a new website that’s specific to alpine, www.fisalpineworldcup.com that will include information on athletes, video updates, streaming of races after the event, and results.

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