FIS reveals plans to revive Alpine super-combined

Associated Press

10/5/2012 2:41:24 PM

ZURICH, Switzerland -- The International Ski Federation plans to revitalize the Alpine super-combined event at classic venues after downgrading its World Cup status.

From this season, FIS has stopped offering a crystal globe trophy for the season-long titles which Lindsey Vonn of the United States and Ivica Kostelic of Croatia dominated in recent years.

Many race organizers have said super-combined -- testing all-around skills in separate speed and slalom runs -- is difficult to market, and the 2012-13 World Cup calendar has just two men's events and one for women.

Alpine men's race director Guenter Hujara is optimistic about starting a revival next season with a Friday event at Kitzbuehel, Austria, ahead of the coveted downhill on Saturday.

"I am convinced that this is not only a sports model, but this is a very good business model, too," Hujara told the annual preseason gathering of Alpine stakeholders on Friday.

Hujara's plan calls for Kitzbuehel's Friday lunchtime World Cup super-G race to remain a stand-alone result, but also double as the first portion of a super-combined with a floodlit slalom catching large crowds coming for the downhill.

"We can have a very perfect late-afternoon or night event," the FIS official said. Kitzbuehel already has a traditional combined event, which simply adds racers' times from the downhill and the two-run slalom staged on Sunday.

Beaver Creek, Colorado, was also suggested as a future super-combined host to help revive it as a "classic, highly traditional" event.

Hujara has warned that the status of super-combined, currently a medal event at the Winter Olympics and Alpine world championships, could be threatened if World Cup races are not supported.

The United States has thrived in super-combined with Bode Miller taking his first Olympic title at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, and Julia Mancuso getting silver behind Maria Riesch of Germany.

FIS President Gian Franco Kasper acknowledged that super-combined was important to the U.S. team.

"Of course, they should be more than happy," Kasper told The Associated Press. "It is a very interesting event, there is no question. Our intention is 100 per cent to continue with it."

Still, the women's circuit has a tougher time selling super-combined to sponsors and broadcasters.

"It's a very, very difficult job for the organizers" to finance a race, women's race director Atle Skaardal told Friday's meeting. "It is still difficult to find enough enthusiasm and excitement around these to have it work in the way it is supposed to work."

The only women's World Cup super-combined event this season is in February at Meribel, France. The men race at Wengen, Switzerland, in January, one week before the Kitzbuehel event.