Abrupt End to FIS World Cup Seasons

(ATR) All final Alpine World Cup races cancelled amid health concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

(ATR) The International Ski Federation and respective local organizers have cancelled all final Alpine World Cup races amid health concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

Men’s technical races in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia were called off on Thursday morning following the cancellation of three women’s races in Åre, Sweden, which came less than 24 hours prior to a Thursday race and athletes having already arrived onsite.

According to FIS, three members of the sponsor support team were immediately placed under quarantine after experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus upon arrival to Åre, with one subsequently testing positive.

In a statement, FIS said: "The health and welfare of the athletes and all other participants, as well as the general public are in the forefront and the priority of FIS and all stakeholders."

It continued: "FIS is fully compliant with the instructions and decisions of the National and Regional Governments and their Health Authorities in any recommendation regarding public gathers that impact FIS competitions."

Also Thursday, World Cup cross-country races in Minneapolis, Minnesota, scheduled for March 14-17, were cancelled due to the outbreak and travel restrictions. It would have marked the first time in 19 years that an FIS World Cup cross-country event was staged in the U.S.

The World Health Organization, on Wednesday, declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic with some 118,000 cases and more than 4,000 deaths across all continents except for Antarctica.

The cancellation of all final races effectively ends the 2019-20 season. As a result, Federica Brignone is the first Italian woman to win the overall title in the 53-year history of the World Cup tour.

"Having won in this way is not what I wanted…I have to thank everyone who helped me achieve this," Brignone said. "I think I deserved it..I am proud to have achieved this result in such a difficult time for Italy. I hope I have brought a smile to our country."

Brignone won the title finishing 153-points ahead of three-time defending champion Mikaela Shiffrin, who had taken a six-week break from the tour since the death of her father. Shiffrin planned to return to racing in Sweden.

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde will be awarded the men’s overall title becoming the fourth Norwegian to achieve the honor. Kilde lead Frenchman Alexis Pinturault by 54 points in the standings. All discipline titles were also finalized in the wake of the sudden race cancellations.

The World Cup finals in Cortina, Italy, scheduled for March 18-22, had already been cancelled.

Norwegian organizers and FIS also made the decision to cancel remaining races at the Alpine Junior World Championships in Narvik, Norway. Some 300 athletes from 40 countries were competing.

"We have come to a situation where the number of corona cases has nearly doubled in the space of 24 hours and the virus has attained status as an international pandemic," said Sverre Hakon Evju, the chief medical officer for the championships.

"We wish to point out that we are not doing this because we have cases of corona infection. We are doing this precisely because we have no cases of corona infection."

Written by Brian Pinelli

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