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Last women's World Cup GS before Sochi Olympics called off because of bad weather

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KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia - The final women's World Cup giant slalom before the Sochi Olympics was called off Saturday because of rain and fog, following a day of heavy snowfall.

A decision on whether to go ahead with a slalom scheduled for Sunday on the same Podkoren course will be made shortly before that race.

Organizers first delayed the start of the GS by half an hour but conditions failed to improve.

"The race line was quite good but we had a lot of loose snow on the outside," FIS race director Atle Skaardal said. "And then in connection with the freezing rain and the bad visibility, the complete situation was not acceptable."

FIS says 200 course workers had been working all morning to clear over a meter of fresh snow, but rain and fog were limiting visibility for the racers on the softened course.

"I am convinced it was the right decision," Skaardal said. "The organizing committee have done a tremendous job over the last days and hours to even bring us in the position this morning to consider to start a race because you saw how extreme everything was."

Despite rain being forecast for the rest of the day, Skaardal judged the chances for Sunday's slalom as "quite good."

"It's a shorter event. We need only 550 metres length which is less than 50 per cent of the giant slalom," he said. "This makes it easier as we have more people to work on a smaller area."

The 50th edition of the annual Zlata Lisica event was moved from another Slovenian resort, Maribor, because of a lack of snow there.

The GS will likely be rescheduled after the Olympics, though the tight schedule doesn't leave FIS many options, according to Skaardal.

Jessica Lindell-Vikarby leads the GS World Cup standings with 332 points, 120 clear of Swedish teammate Maria Pietilae-Holmner. Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein, Austrian pair Anna Fenninger and Kathrin Zettel, and American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin are all within 10 points of Pietilae-Holmner.

Austria women's head coach Jurgen Kriechbaum said that "coaches were unanimous, the weather is just too bad."

"The course is not good enough to stage a race with these conditions," Kriechbaum said. "The organizers wanted to stage the race at all costs but it's useless under these circumstances."

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