Big Mountain, Mont. March 26, 2001 (USSA)--Soft Snow, brought on by light rain and warm temperatures, forced cancellation Monday of the men's giant slalom at the Chevy Truck U.S. Alpine Championships at Big Mountain.
Paul Mahre, chief of competition for the championships - which returned to Big Mountain, which hold the championships in 1949(a teenager named Andrea Mead won all three women's races) and 1951, said the softening snow created unsafe conditions. "Wewere stuck with a surface that was inconsistent, unsafe and un-runnable," he said.
The soft snow prevented course groomers from getting up on the mountain during the night. Organizers originally called a90-minute delay (to 10:30 a.m. MST) to the start, but a shot time later postponed the race began sorting out options.
"My priority is to get all four races men's and women's GS and slalom title events held by Wednesday," Mahre explained. However,with the women's giant slalom scrubbed a year ago when the snow fell apart at the start of the second run at sun-bathed JacksonHole resort, Mahre said there was increased emphasis on ensuring the women's GS is staged this season.
In the end, the race jury canceled the men's GS and voted to concentrate on staging the rest of the events. The schedule calls forwomen's GS Tuesday with both men's and women's slaloms Wednesday. The first three days of racing - downhills Friday withmen's super G Saturday and women's SG Sunday - went of without a glitch.
"Paul and his staff have such a great get-it-done attitude and they've done a great job," said U.S. Ski and Snowboard AssociationVP-Athletics Alan Ashley. "The speed events went beautifully, but unfortunately, now they've got a real challenge with theweather, but they've already shown they can handle tough conditions. If they get any kind of a break, we'll be in good shape."
Mahre said the rain, which began after the women's super G Sunday afternoon, and the 40-plus temperatures had softened thesnow to the point where sections of snow were shearing off, creating unsafe conditions.
Big Mountain held the U.S. championships in 1949 (when a 16-year-old named Andrea Mead won all three events - downhill, slaloman combined; GS didn't join the championships loineup until 1952) and 1951.