LAKE LOUISE, Alta. – The world’s fastest men and women on two skis will get their season underway in Lake Louise after all – and perhaps for the final time.
Due to lack of snow and safety concerns, the International Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine World Cup Tour cancelled downhill races in Zermatt-Cervinia, Switzerland, scheduled for Oct. 29-30 and Nov. 5-6 at the famed Matterhorn mountain.
“Logistically and organizationally, we are ready … Ultimately, however, we must recognize that nature is always stronger than man," said organizing committee president Franz Julen in a press release.
Canmore’s Jeff Read, who was scheduled to compete this weekend, is ready for an earlier start, but would like to see it pushed back by a few weeks in the future so winter conditions can set in.
“It’s kind of the nature of running races at this time of year – it’s a roll of the dice,” said Read, 25. “It would have been cool to get the season going early, but maybe they will be able to figure out next year.”
The next men and women's speed world cups are scheduled for Nov. 25-27 and Dec. 2-4 in Lake Louise, which has made headlines in recent months about the future of the local event.
Read, who last season had a remarkable career-best seventh place in world cup downhill in Kvitfjell, Norway, said he's glad to start off the year in, what could be, the final time in Lake Louise.
“I think one thing that made Lake Louise so special was getting to start the season there for us,” said Read.
The Lake Louise event previously kicked off the speed season opener every November with downhill and super-G races, but FIS announced earlier this year the Swiss venue would start things off in October.
Following the cancellation overseas, the Lake Louise Audi FIS Ski World Cup, operated by Alpine Canada Alpin (ACA), said on social media that its crew working on the local course is making “excellent progress” for the upcoming world cup races.
The men’s world cup at Lake Louise Ski Resort is followed by the women’s downhill and super-G, which is the final women’s world cup event at Lake Louise for the foreseeable future.
After much speculation on Lake Louise's world cup future, ACA announced last week that a new women’s world cup technical event is happening in Mont-Tremblant in Quebec starting next December, during the same time the women's speed event would be. The new Canadian stop will replace the women’s speed event at Lake Louise.
Where the men’s speed event will end up in November 2023 is undecided, but ACA has stated it will stay in western Canada, and Lake Louise is under consideration.
“With our plans for a women’s tech event in the East now firming up, we look forward to finalizing our long-term strategy for a World Cup Men’s Speed event in the West,” said ACA CEO, Therese Brisson, in a media release.
Lake Louise hosted its first world cup on March 4, 1980 where Canadians and Crazy Canucks Steve Podborski finished fourth, Ken Read eighth, and Dave Irwin 12th.
From 1994 onward, the race at the famous lake in Banff National Park has been a staple on the world cup circuit.