After canceling five Alpine World Cup events in the last couple of weeks, organizers in Lech Zürs, Austria, had to cancel the Parallel Slalom planned for November 12-13. ‘Ski Austria Alpine’ announced on Sunday that the Flexenrace, as the race is known, will have to be canceled. This takes the number of scrapped Alpine World Cup events to seven, as both the men’s and women’s races had to be called off.
Two weeks ago the season opener, the first cross-border event in Zermatt-Cervinia, had to be called off due to lack of snow. The two events planned for the men were two back-to-back downhill races, but the last 984ft (300m) of the course was not safe to ski on. Subsequently, the two women’s downhill events, planned for last weekend, also had to be struck from the tour calendar. In addition, the Sölden, Austria, Giant-Slalom race had to be called off due to poor visibility the prior weekend. This means only one event has so far been able to be held, the men’s Giant Slalom in Sölden and the women are still waiting for the Alpine event season opener.
Austria, as well as many other European countries, experienced the warmest October on record this year. Organizers were well aware that holding the event would pose a challenge as it is early in the season and the previous poor European ski season had left little snow to build a base on. Lech Zürs had practiced snow-farming in anticipation of difficulties in hosting the event. However, even with the snow saved from last season, it was not enough to hold a safe event that complied with strict FIS standards. The initial ‘snow control’ three days ago was not favorable but International Ski and Snowboard Federation FIS decided to postpone the decision until Sunday, November 6, 2022. Unfortunately, conditions did not improve and the weather forecast for next week remains not favorable to snowmaking.
The decision to cancel is doubly disappointing as the Austrian event was a recent addition to the World Cup schedule and one of only two Parallel events on the World Cup tour for the men, their only other parallel event is in mid-December in Alta Badia, Italy. The women will hopefully have a chance to compete in Levi, Finland, on November 19, 2022, which will be the season opener now after the slew of race cancelations. In the meantime, the US Alpine Ski Team will return to the US for the national Copper Mountain Downhill and Super-G races.
What is parallel slalom? Parallel or Double Slalom is the only Alpine skiing event that has racers compete side by side, tackling the slopes on identical courses in a knockout format. The course is longer than a classical slalom race and does not feature slalom poles but Giant-Slalom gates. It is an exciting race to watch due to the elimination-style format and has been an Olympic discipline since 2018. Speeds are higher than in a slalom race due to the larger distance between gates but the tight gates require incredible technical agility. The race usually provides for some breathtaking heats and photo finishes.