Mikaela Shiffrin’s chances of extending her three-year reign as overall champion took another hit when the alpine skiing World Cup Finals in Italy were canceled on Friday because of the virus outbreak.
Shiffrin already lost her lead in the standings because of a month-long absence following the death of her father.
The Italian Winter Sports Federation was hoping to host the finals, scheduled for March 18-22 in Cortina d’Ampezzo, without spectators. But during an emergency International Ski Federation (FIS) board meeting on Friday, every nation besides Italy voted to cancel the event, the Italian federation said.
“It’s with great disappointment that I accept this decision,” Italian federation president Flavio Roda said. “Every member of the board made their decision based on limitations that their respective governments have imposed in relation to the virus.”
World Cup rules prevent the finals from being moved to another location.
“This was an extremely difficult decision for us to make, but ultimately welfare and health of the athletes, teams and everyone associated with the World Cup as well as the general public must be our top priority,” FIS president Gian Franco Kasper said. “We must respect this very serious situation. We look forward to recognizing the winning athletes at a later date when we can properly celebrate their accomplishments.”
Shiffrin announced on Thursday she was returning to the circuit in Europe but she has only one set of races left in Åre, Sweden — if she enters — to try to erase her 153-point deficit to Italian rival Federica Brignone.
“It’s an inconclusive way to finish the season,” Brignone said. “What really hurts me will be the loss of the prize celebrations, which represent a special moment to share with the entire team, and the pleasure of hearing your national anthem play.