Lack of workers criticized on Sochi 2014 course

ANDREW DAMPF AP Sports Writer Published:

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) -- Skiers and coaches complained that there were not enough workers to clear fresh snow off the 2014 Sochi Olympics downhill course on Thursday, forcing training for a women's World Cup race to be canceled.

There are only about 200 so-called slippers working on the Rosa Khutor course for the races this weekend -- a major test for the games -- whereas there are usually twice that number at other races.

Organizers first delayed the start of the session by an hour, then called it off completely.

"The visibility is good, but there's a lot of snow," giant slalom world champion Tina Maze told The Associated Press. "They need to do a lot of work, but I heard there's nobody on the course. I hope they wake up."

While the base of the valley was covered in fog, that wasn't a problem on the course.

"Actually, the visibility is not bad at all," said U.S. speed coach Chip White. "There's just a lot of snow and at the moment not enough people to clean it up."

A third and final training session is scheduled for Friday before the downhill race Saturday and a super-combined Sunday.

In Wednesday's opening training session, most of the skiers were ordered to slow down before the course's two main jumps, meaning most athletes have not had a complete run at full speed.

World Cup rules require one training session to be completed before a downhill race, although it wasn't immediately clear if Wednesday's session counted or not.

"I don't know what yesterday was," Maze said. "I'm not sure what they're calling it, but for me it wasn't a real training session, because we stopped for the yellow flags."

Defending overall World Cup winner Maria Hoefl-Riesch also would like to have a full-speed training run before the races.

"That's what I think, but you never know what they will do," Hoefl-Riesch said. "I hope there's not too much more snow coming."