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Mild weather wipes out training for classic World Cup downhill race; forces program changes

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KITZBUEHEL, Austria - Organizers have replaced Friday's World Cup super-G and super-combined races with a slalom on a different piste to avoid damage to the Streif course ahead of the classic men's downhill on Saturday.

The super-G and the combined will now conclude the 74th Hahnenkamm event on Sunday, the International ski federation said Wednesday.

Earlier, FIS cancelled Wednesday's training for the downhill because of the mild weather and fog having softened the snow.

"Conditions are very good in the upper section but you can feel where the fog was sitting over the night," FIS men's race director Guenter Hujara said. "In those sections the snow didn't freeze and conditions in the lower section would not allow a training run."

The cancellation left organizers with Thursday as the only option to stage the mandatory downhill training without further changes to the program.

If conditions don't improve soon enough, the downhill race will be postponed until Sunday with the super-G and the combined races to be cancelled, leaving Saturday as a training day.

Overall World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway wrote on Twitter he was "hoping for good weather and conditions" on Thursday.

"So we can get a real Kitzbuehel weekend," said Svindal, who won the super-G in the Austrian town last year.

Sunday's super-G is a separate World Cup race but will also count as the first portion of the super-combined, to be followed by one slalom run under floodlights late in the afternoon.

Persistent mild temperatures and days of rain made for "quite critical" conditions, according to Hujara, while up to 30 centimetres of fresh snow where forecast for Friday morning.

A key problem is the Hausbergkante, the lower section of the 3.3-kilometre Streif course which is one of the marquee parts of the downhill race. Organizers have been transporting 1,800 tons of snow down from the mountains by helicopter to get the section covered.

However, freezing temperatures were needed to make the surface hard enough.

An alternative bottom section to the downhill course has already been prepared, using the final part of the slalom course instead.

The mild temperatures in central Europe over the past three weeks have led to several World Cup races in Germany, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy to be cancelled or moved to other resorts.

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