ZERMATT, Switzerland (AP) — Skiing’s newest downhill course that crosses between Switzerland and Italy next to the Matterhorn mountain will have its debut World Cup races in October, the International Ski Federation said Friday.
The available dates are Oct. 29-30 and Nov. 5-6 for back-to-back weekends of two downhills each for men and women.
“FIS is giving speed athletes an earlier start to the season and the Alpine World Cup a season without interruptions thanks to two additional race weekends,” skiing’s governing body said.
The first downhill races each season are currently in Lake Louise, Canada, starting late November.
The earliest start for the downhill season is possible on glacier snow near upscale resort Zermatt at the storied mountain. It is known as the Matterhorn on the Swiss side and Cervino by Italians.
FIS hopes the course will have environmental gains for a sport threatened by climate change and warmer temperatures.
“All teams will be able to take advantage of on-site training throughout the year,” FIS president Johan Eliasch said. “This will reduce travel to long-distance venues in the southern hemisphere.”
The high-altitude course is designed by Didier Defago, the 2010 Olympics downhill champion who is FIS’s test racer for new courses designed for Winter Games, including in China next month.
Because a key cable car will not be completed in time, the first Matterhorn races will run from below the start at 3,900 meters (12,800 foot) that it will eventually use.
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