world cup race 

After a month of snowmaking — and virtually no natural snow — race organizers expect to receive approval today (Nov. 21) to run next week’s World Cup downhill and super G on Whistler Mountain. FIS representative Sepp Messner gave the Whistler race a conditional go-ahead Wednesday after walking the Dave Murray Downhill course with Chief of Race Bill McNeney. "We’re very pleased with course preparations to date," Messner said Wednesday. "Given Whistler Mountain’s snowmaking system and the expertise of the race organizing committee, one more night of the right weather conditions should ensure a positive outcome." Snowcover was still thin at the bottom of the Weasel, in the Fallaway turn and in some spill zones Wednesday, but with the forecast for clear and cold Wednesday night race organizers expected to be able to make enough snow to pass a second inspection. "Sepp is looking for ways to make this work," said Rod MacLeod, who is in charge of snowmaking on Whistler Mountain. "His attitude is really good." Messner has conducted safety inspections for each of the seven previous World Cup races at Whistler and knows what McNeney, MacLeod and Chief of Course Owen Carney and their crews are capable of doing. MacLeod anticipated enough snow could be made Wednesday night/Thursday morning to satisfy Messner. "At this point we are confident we will pass the final inspection," McNeney said Wednesday. The snowmaking system is capable of turning one million gallons of water into snow on the course in one day. Since MacLeod’s crew began making snow on Oct. 16, 9.5 million gallons of water have been used. The computer model for snowmaking suggested 11 million gallons would be required to make the course race ready. While last week’s clear skies and cold temperatures in the valley helped snowmaking on the bottom part of the course, a temperature inversion produced above-freezing temperatures around midstation, where the Weasel and Fallaway are located. That prevented snowmaking through those sections of the course most of last week. Up to 20 cm of snow was expected Tuesday night but failed to materialize. However, the weather system that did move in Tuesday brought freezing temperatures to the mid-mountain area and allowed snowmakers to concentrate their efforts in the Weasel and Fallaway. The first scheduled training run on the Dave Murray course is Wednesday, Nov. 26. The downhill race is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 29 and a super G for Sunday, Nov. 30. Whistler’s date on the World Cup calendar was switched with Vail’s this year, moving ahead one week, in order to allow Vail a better chance of holding a race on its new downhill course at Beaver Creek. Vail is hosting the 1999 world championships and a World Cup race must be held on the new downhill course prior to the world championships. Next season Whistler’s races will return to the first weekend in December. There had been rumours of the Whistler races moving to Lake Louise in the event there was not enough snow locally, but Lake Louise is relying primarily on artificial snow for the women’s World Cup downhills that resort is hosting Dec. 6-7. Lake Louise’s snowmaking system serves only the bottom part of the downhill course but it will provide a long enough track for a women’s downhill. A men’s downhill would have to start higher on the mountain, where there is no natural snow and no access to the snowmaking system.

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