LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland – Sofia Goggia and Beat Feuz became the World Cup downhill champions without needing to put on their skis Wednesday, when the final races of the season were canceled after heavy snowfall.
It was a second career title in the fastest discipline for Goggia, who has not raced since breaking a bone in her right knee seven weeks ago, and a fourth for Feuz.
The women’s and men’s contests in the overall World Cup standings also tilted away from the Swiss challengers on their home course at Lenzerheide when organizers called off the day’s program. The Swiss ski federation cited “continuing snowfall and the present weather situation.”
Petra Vlhova and Alexis Pinturault each hold small leads in their overall standings and their nearest challengers – Switzerland teammates Lara Gut-Behrami and Marco Odermatt – are stronger in downhill.
Organizers had aimed for an ambitious program Wednesday with separate training runs for men and women in the morning ahead of races starting after midday.
The mandatory practice runs required under World Cup safety rules had not been possible Tuesday because of snowfall and strong winds on the Silvano Beltrametti slope.
Men’s race director Markus Waldner said the program was “only doable with really nice weather. We knew that yesterday but anyway we tried.”
The finals week has no reserve days and International Ski Federation rules do not allow races to be rescheduled. Racing is set to begin Thursday with the men’s and women’s super-G.
Waldner said he was confident for Thursday’s races, though clearing the race surface of fresh snow was “a lot of work on the race track.”
After the cancellations, the International Ski Federation said Waldner’s assistant, Emmanuel Couder, tested positive for COVID-19 and that race staff in Lenzerheide will be given daily tests. No tickets were sold to fans for the finals week to comply with Swiss rules amid the pandemic.
Goggia was spared having to race for the first time since her injury on Jan. 31 to protect her downhill standings lead. She led defending champion Corinne Suter by 70 points. The winner of each race is awarded 100 points.
The 2018 Olympic champion from Italy won four straight downhills – a World Cup feat matched only by American great Lindsey Vonn in the last 25 years – then crashed when skiing into the valley after a race was canceled in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
Goggia also won the crystal globe trophy in downhill in 2018.
Feuz now has four straight downhill titles to match Didier Cuche, the previous Swiss star in men’s downhill. Cuche won four globes in five seasons between 2006 and 2011.
Franz Klammer of Austria topped the downhill standings a record five times – four straight in the mid-1970s and a fifth in 1983.
Feuz won two downhills this season, both on the toughest course at Kitzbühel, Austria, in January.
The next Swiss star, the 23-year-old Odermatt, trails Pinturault by just 31 points in the overall standings and was favored to close the gap Wednesday. Pinturault was set to start his first downhill of the season.
Both are threats in super-G with Odermatt still in contention for the discipline title. World champion Vincent Kriechmayr of Austria leads Odermatt by 83 points and needs just a 14th-place finish to secure the crystal trophy.
Pinturault won the men’s super-G race when Lenzerheide previously hosted World Cup Finals week in 2014.
The Frenchman, who turns 30 on Saturday, is seeking a first overall title after finishing runner-up in each of the past two seasons. He also finished third three times.
Vlhova would also be a first-time champion. The Slovakian slalom specialist has a 96-point lead over Gut-Behrami, the 2016 overall winner.
Gut-Behrami already secured the super-G standings title.