Due to the recently deteriorating COVID-19 situation in Wengen, the 91st International Lauberhorn Races cannot be held, according to a statement from Swiss-Ski.

After a new analysis of the current COVID-19 conditions in Wengen, the canton of Bern made the decision to cancel the races on the Lauberhorn planned from Friday to Sunday. The organizers, Swiss-Ski and the FIS support this measure and thank the cantonal authorities for the good cooperation, according to the statement.

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The decision came before hundreds of athletes and team officials were due to arrive in the village, which is reached by a cog railway rising toward the Jungfrau and Eiger mountains.

“The decision hurts enormously β€” all the more because the organizing committee has done excellent preparatory work,” says Bernhard Aregger, CEO of Swiss-Ski. β€œThe cancellation of one of the most prestigious race weekends in the World Cup calendar makes the heart of every ski fan bleed. Nevertheless, it is our job to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Even when making such difficult decisions, health is in the foreground.”

According to Swiss TV, coronavirus conditions in Wengen worsened in recent days, including the mutated, more contagious virus variant allegedly brought in by British tourists. Race personnel then tested positive, and concern grew β€” if they had contact with racers β€” it could jeopardize the remainder of the season.

“The virus has spread very quickly in Wengen since mid-December. In just four weeks, over 60 cases were reported within the Wengen population, after almost no cases before,” reads a statement from the Canton Bern. “The people of Wengen are asked to stay at home whenever possible and to avoid contacts outside their own household.”

UPDATE: Canceled men’s races from Wengen rescheduled in Kitzbuehel

Switzerland will now lose its most popular ski races to neighboring Austria, where Kitzbuehel will host its classic downhill the following weekend.

Kitzbuehel will have back-to-back race weekends, the ski federation said. Two slaloms will be staged on Saturday and Sunday, followed by two downhills and a super-G. The classic Hahnenkamm downhill will retain its Saturday slot on Jan. 23, one day after the same slope stages a replacement race for the Lauberhorn downhill.

  • Downhill Training 2: Wednesday, Jan. 13
  • Downhill Training 3: Thursday, Jan. 14
  • Slalom (ex Wengen): Saturday, Jan. 16
  • Hahnenkamm Slalom: Sunday, Jan. 17
  • Official arrival day: Monday, Jan. 18
  • Downhill Training 1: Tuesday, Jan. 19
  • Downhill (replacing Wengen): Friday, Jan. 22
  • Hahnenkamm Downhill: Saturday, Jan. 23
  • Hahnenkamm Super-G: Sunday, Jan. 24

Wengen’s races are the first cancellations on the men’s or women’s World Cup circuits this season linked to the pandemic.

Schedules were modified – moving races from the United States and Canada to Europe – to protect athletes and team officials by limiting travel and contact between racers in different events.

This is a developing story. Stay tuned for more.

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