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Alpine skiing: North American races wiped out by COVID-19

(Reuters) - The traditional opening of the Alpine Ski World Cup speed season in North America was cancelled with events in Canada and the United States wiped out by the COVID-19 outbreak, the sport’s governing body FIS said on Thursday.

The first men’s and women’s downhills set for Lake Louise, Alberta and Beaver Creek, Colorado along with technical races in Killington, Vermont have been removed from the calendar.

Races in Europe will go ahead as scheduled starting on Oct. 17-18 with men’s and women’s giant slaloms on the glaciers above Soelden, Austria.

Lake Louise was to be the venue for men’s downhill and Super-G events from Nov. 25-29 with the women moving into the posh Canadian resort for a downhill and Super-G the following week.

Beaver Creek had been scheduled to run three races, a men’s downhill, Super-G and giant slalom from Dec. 1-6.

“The 2020-21 FIS Alpine World Cup men’s and women’s calendars will adopt a different structure due to impacts from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said U.S. Ski and Snowboard in a statement.

“The objective of FIS is to carry out a full World Cup competition program, protecting the health and welfare of all participants to the best extent possible.

“The FIS Alpine World Cup Calendar in 2020-21 caters to this goal by focusing on athlete safety, reducing travel, and providing competitors with a detailed competition calendar.”

The cancelled races will be added to the European calendar with Val d’Isere adding a downhill and super-G to their Dec. 12-13 schedule.

The women’s tour will add a downhill to its traditional weekend in St. Moritz on Dec. 5, while Courchevel will host a two-race technical weekend in December.

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Christian Radnedge