Adelboden, Switzerland Feb. 19 (AP)--Increasingly heavy snowfalls and poor visibility forced race officials to call off a men's World Cup giant slalom midway through the race today.
The start of the race had already been delayed over an hour after steady overnight snowfalls, which continued into the morning, had to be cleared off the difficult, sheer Kuonigsbergli course.
When conditions improved, race officials decided to start the race, but were forced to interrupt it after 33 skiers, when the snow and wind picked up again.
The first skier out of the start, Austria's Stephan Eberharter had taken advantage of clear visibility and a yet unspoiled course to take the lead, with the rapidly deteriorating conditions handicapping those following him.
Starting third and also benefitting from a relatively unblemished course, home favorite Michael Von Gruenigen crossed second, leaving him in a favorable position to claim his first victory of the season.
However, despite his excellent time, the reigning World Cup giant slalom champion felt the conditions were unfair and that officials were wise to stop the race.
``It was an irregular race,'' Von Gruenigen said. ``The conditions were getting steadily worse and it was getting more and more unfair as the race went on. Those who started after number 10 had no chance.
``You had to stay on the line marked by the skiers ahead of you because if you went off, onto the softer snow, it slowed you down too much,'' he said. ``But as the race went on, there was so much new snow on the course, you couldn't even see the line.''
Runaway World Cup leader Hermann Maier lost his chance to make up for a trouble-filled campaign on home snow last weekend, when he crashed out in the first of back-to-back super-Gs _ his favorite event _ and then settled for third the very next day.
The ``Herminator'' looked poised to get back on track, as he was tied for third with Sweden's Fredrik Nyberg before the race was canceled.
The International Ski Federation had not yet decided when or where to reschedule the race.
Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press