Wait a minute: Postponements test skiers’ patience at worlds

National Sports

United States’ Mikaela Shiffrin inspects the course prior to the women’s super-G, at the alpine ski World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Gabriele Facciotti)

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin hates it. Marta Bassino gets nervous about it. Michelle Gisin, on the other hand, doesn’t mind.

Waiting.

With all events on the opening three days of the skiing world championships postponed, athletes have had their patience — not their racing skills — put to the test.

Four gold medals should have been handed out by Wednesday, but so far there have been no races.

The weather in the Italian Dolomites has been playing havoc with the race program, with heavy snow forcing the rescheduling of the combined events for both women and men, and the men’s super-G.

Too much snow hasn’t been the only issue.

When course workers had cleared the Olympia delle Trofane for the women’s super-G on Tuesday, a fog bank moved over the course and forced the postponement of that race as well — but not after the racers were made to wait for 1 1/2 hours.

The waiting got to Bassino, who was set to open the race wearing bib No. 1, needing to be ready once organizers would give the green light.

“It was rough on Marta. She was ready to go,” said Gianluca Rulfi, head coach of the Italian women’s elite team. “The visibility was already poor when they sent down the first two forerunners. That made her nervous. She kept on asking what was going on. At one point she needed to go to the bathroom, but she had to stay there.”

For Bassino, who has been dominating the giant slalom discipline on the World Cup circuit this season, the extended wait became a mental struggle.

“It was a long and very difficult day mentally. I was ready,” she said. “It seemed like we could start at any moment. But I ended up staying there without precise information for what seemed like forever.”

The situation was different for Shiffrin.

Defending the super-G title she won two years ago, the American was supposed to go 10th, leaving her still some time for final preparations once the race started.

But postponing racing is what puts her off.

“Everybody: It’s always nice weather in Cortina, of course the schedule will play out without any issues! Cortina: (crosses arms defiantly) …hold my beer,” Shiffrin wrote on Instagram hours after Tuesday’s postponement.

Shiffrin said earlier this season “the waiting has always been tough. I think it’s that way for every athlete. That’s the hardest thing about races.”

Waiting is also what Shiffrin dislikes about her strongest disciplines — slalom and GS, which are contested over two runs, separated by three hours.

“You wait, and wait, and wait, and wait, and wait, and then you race,” Shiffrin said. “And it’s like 60 seconds where you actually have to be on point and the rest of day is just waiting, and I hate waiting.”

For others, however, delays or postponements are brief distractions, nothing more.

“I only need three minutes before the start,” said Gisin, who is ranked third in the overall World Cup standings.

The Olympic combined champion from Switzerland said she has been through enough delays during her career to not be bothered by them anymore, and had no problems to stay relaxed.

Tamara Tippler, Austria’s main medal hope in the discipline after racking up seven podium results on the World Cup tour, found another solution.

She got herself an espresso during the holdup at the start.

“I was nervous for nothing. But you can’t do anything. It’s a shame, I was really looking forward to race and the course was fine,” Tippler said, “but you can’t beat the weather.”

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AP Sports Writer Andrew Dampf contributed to this report.

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