Russians-only farce prompts World Cup ski calendar shake-up

Russia will not host any more World Cup events organised by the International Ski Federation (FIS) this winter, the governing body said after a farcical attempt to hold ski cross races on Friday in the Urals resort of Sunny Valley, one day after Russia started a military invasion of Ukraine.

Only a handful of Russians started in the events and dozens of racers from all other countries did not take part. Only six Russians started out of 61 scheduled racers in the men’s ski cross qualification, and seven Russians among 24 listed starters took part in the women’s event. The non-starters included the new Olympic champions Ryan Regez of Switzerland and Sandra Näeslund of Sweden.

FIS cited “the safety of all participants and to maintain the integrity of the World Cup” for calling off five scheduled events in the next month. Replacement venues are being sought.

A World Cup event in freestyle aerials was also scheduled this weekend in Yaroslavl. Women’s ski jumping competitions were scheduled between 18-27 March at Nizhny Tagil and Chaikovsky. Cross-country races were due in Tyumen on 18-20 March.

The FIS said, regarding the ski cross and aerials skiers already in Russia, that it was “working closely with the involved stakeholders to ensure their quick return back home”.

Norway’s ski federation had already asked FIS to cancel the planned events in Russia, with its president, Erik Røste, saying: “This is bigger than sport and sport cannot be neutral in such a situation.”

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