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Final Call: No Downhill
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    Fog and Snow Ruin Last Chance for Downhill
    December 6, 1998
    Due to continued thick fog, the season-opening men's World Cup downhill race did not get off the ground in Whistler for the third consecutive year.

    "We even extended the window with the satellite," said Gunter Hujara, chief race director for the International Ski Federation (FIS). "We tried everything we sent up helicopters to watch out for a clear spot. I think nobody can say we didn't try everything."

    Hermann Maier Hermann Maier
    As for the racers, Hermann Maier commented on what it was like to wait through continued delays.

    "For the third year, it's a very nice village here, but this year we cannot go out always waiting for the next day racing, so that was the problem," said Maier. "Better to make the next day off when you're waiting for the next day... after the next day."

    Does Hermann think he could have done well on this course?

    "I don't know," he said. "The training was not so bad. It's a really tough course."

    Once again — going skiing...

    Fog The Fog
    Repeat: No Downhill

    Fog and Snow Ruin Chances for Second Try at Downhill
    December 5, 1998
    For the second day in a row, the men's downhill has been scrapped. Thick weather, visibility problems, snow, wind — you name it, obscured the course creating unsafe racing conditions. Organizers have given priority to the downhill by scheduling it at 10am Sunday, in place of the super-G, which will be held in Europe at a later date.

    Günter Hujara, International Ski Federation Race Director, indicated that he thinks this situation could jeopordize Whistler's chances for hosting future downhills.

    "We know there is an excellent infrastructure, an excellent race hill, an excellent organizing committee and an excellent course crew," said Hujara, "and all the criteria are fulfilled in detail and very often more than that. And on the other side there is this but -- but the weather, but the fog, but, but, but..."

    This is not a final decision. Ultimately, Alpine Canada Alpin, the governing body of ski racing in Canada and a member nation of FIS, will have the responsibility of bidding on future races in Whistler.

    Hujara also pointed out that this will not affect the chances for the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Olympic bid.

    As for the odds of pulling off a race tomorrow, they're virtually nil, but we'll go through the motions. The scheduled start time is 10am, and if it can't happen then, it's doubtful that we'll see any delays — the jury will most likely call it early due to a limited one-and-a-half hour window of satellite time that has been reserved to upload the live feed to European television.

    So, what if the weather clears at 11:30? According to Hujara, no race. There you've got your priorities from FIS: no TV, no sport competition. Shouldn't it be the other way around?

    It's a double edged sword. TV rights are the main source of revenue for the World Cup tour. There are other places to hold a downhill, and Whistler is getting a bad rap. But this is ski racing. On the other side, there are a lot of happy tourists gliding down the slopes today in fresh powder.

    Super-G equipment is already on its way to Val d'Isere for next weekend's downhill and super-G which are scheduled for Dec. 12 and 13. Teams have 45 tons of gear to ship from Vancouver, through Montreal and finally to Zurich for the first downhill training run there on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

    Going skiing...

    Downhill Scrapped

    How to make frozen margaritas with a cordless drill
    December 4, 1998
    Margs Mobile Margaritas
    To quote Günter Hujara, Chief Race Director, "all things seem to be possible, but one thing seems to be impossible."

    The possible things are: friendly Canadians, free food for everybody, racers staying warm in the mountaintop shack and lessons in how to make frozen margaritas, course-side with a blender and a cordless drill.

    The impossible thing appears to be: the season-opening men's World Cup downhill race.

    "What it is, is not about spectator sports, it's about audience participation, spirit and mixing frozen drinks with a cordless 14.4 volt drill while you're waiting for the Austrians to fight for first place..."

    Whistler is the best place to be stranded during a hypothetical downhill race. I even purchased a Canadian thesaurus because the synonyms for the word "drunk" were the most colorful of any at the bookstore, including "boozy, besotted, corked, hammered, lit up, pickled, rubby, soaked, stewed, spongy, tanked, three sheets to the wind and well-oiled." After all, we in the States can always benefit from a little more international culture.

    Although I felt like a rat in a maze when I first arrived in Whistler, I'm beginning to fancy the place.

    We waited patiently for the downhill to start. It looked feasible up until it was actually time to send someone down the hill. Fog descended on the mid-section of the mountain, "Coaches Corner" and sat.

    Food The Spread
    I heard they had opened up the sponsor area for lunch during the wait, but the gatekeeper lady told me yellow press passes weren't allowed. I paced before the sponsor's tent full of tables with fruit, lunch meat and potato salad until they finally opened it to everyone. The heaters, the open bar and the spread were all a nice sanctuary from the cold animal cage by the finish corral set aside for media.

    The gatekeeper lady said, "This is just for today. Tomorrow you won't be able to come in here."

    "So, I need to drink enough to last the whole weekend?" I asked.

    Gordy, a local legend here, answered that question. Gordy is a veteran skier and course doctor who prepares margaritas from his backpack. He's got a 14.4 volt cordless drill with a torque bit that fits perfectly into his blender, stocked with Cuervo gold and all the fixings. Listen Listen to Gordy's margarita recipe.

    It's Canadian spirit at its finest. This is where the NFL, NBA, NHL and American baseball miss the boat. What it is, is not about spectator sports, it's about audience participation, spirit and mixing frozen drinks with a cordless 14.4 volt drill while you're waiting for the Austrians to fight for first place.

    As for the racers, Hermann Maier waited with other skiers at the top of the course for approximately five hours. Though the weather was clear for a short time, when fog came they stayed warm in a shack and took a few runs in between delay announcements, only to come down after waiting all morning into the afternoon.

    "It made a break this morning so it was very nice, so maybe hopefully for tomorrow. Maybe no race, it's always hard," said Maier.

    As the clouds lingered, Maier got hungry and decided to dig into lunch during the wait.

    "I ate a big muffin and tea. And I always try a slice of pizza," he said.

    Maier's teammate Hannes Trinkl is already focusing on the possibility of a race tomorrow, and the waiting isn't affecting his concentration or confidence.

    "No, that's no problem, the mental," said Trinkl. "We do it a lot of times, so we know how it works...I think it's good that we tried to get the race today, but no one can do something against the fog...the course is in real good shape and I hope we can race here."

    Michelle Quigley, waiting on a race for The Mountain Zone

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