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Is the credibility of women’s skiing at stake?

By Reuters Staff
February 11, 2009

Thursday’s women’s giant slalom at the Alpine skiing world championships in Val d’Isere is more than just a race for gold, writes Francois Thomazeau.

The very credibility of women’s skiing is at stake after organisers decided to hold the race on a Bellevarde piste often described as too tough by their male counterparts.

Since the beginning of the championships, an argument has been raging backstage between team chiefs, some calling for the race to be moved to a more lenient course while others adamant that it should be kept on the steep, icy and demanding Bellevarde slope.

Austrian team boss Hans Stum said: “It’s too hard. Only 10 percent of the girls will make it to the bottom.”

Former world and Olympic champion Michaela Dorfmeister, also from Austria, echoed the view. “It will give a very bad image of women’s skiing if the girls keep crashing all over the place,” she said.

The French, who trained hard on the course for their home championships, were certain the race should remain on Bellevarde. The race jury agreed.

“The Austrians know that the Italians and ourselves are fast on this kind of track. They acted as spoilt kids and I’m glad we held our ground and did not let anybody impose their rule on us,” said French slalom coach Pascal Silvestre.

The row will be settled on the snow on Thursday.

PHOTO: A cable car is pictured on the Bellevarde face in Val d’Isere Jan. 31, 2008. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

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