Low-fly­ing Swiss Air Force plane de­lays gi­ant slalom

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - GRA­HAM DUN­BAR

After an in­ci­dent in­volv­ing a mil­i­tary air­plane de­layed the race, Mar­cel Hirscher won the gi­ant slalom ti­tle Fri­day at the world ski cham­pi­onships.

The de­ci­sive sec­ond run was pushed back 30 min­utes after a mono­plane in a Swiss Air Force for­ma­tion dis­play team’s train­ing ex­er­cise struck the cable of a mov­ing over­head tele­vi­sion cam­era.

The cam­era, for film­ing rac­ers through the fin­ish line, fell into the area where skiers stop. No one was hurt.

Hirscher, who led after the first run, raced through fall­ing snow to hold off un­her­alded Aus­tria team­mate Roland Leitinger by 0.25 sec­onds.

Leif Kris­tian Hau­gen of Nor­way was an­other sur­prise medal­list in third, trail­ing Hirscher by 0.71.

Erick Read of Calgary was the top Cana­dian in 23rd place. Calgary’s Phil Brown and Toronto’s Philip Trevor didn’t fin­ish.

Nei­ther the 25-year-old Leitinger nor the 29-year-old Hau­gen has ever fin­ished on the podium of a World Cup race.

Hirscher took sil­ver in gi­ant sla- lom at the past two world cham­pi­onships — part of Ted Ligety’s streak of win­ning every gold medal in the dis­ci­pline since the 2010 Olympics. The Amer­i­can skier ended his sea­son early be­cause of in­jury.

It seemed fit­ting that Hirscher should win a race where low-fly­ing air­craft was a dis­trac­tion. Last sea­son, the Aus­trian was al­most struck dur­ing a World Cup slalom race by a cam­era-car­ry­ing drone which fell from the air and landed on the snow just be­hind him.

Hirscher was furious af­ter­ward, and later fin­ished sec­ond in that De­cem­ber 2015 race in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy.

The In­ter­na­tional Ski Fed­er­a­tion quickly re­acted by ban­ning the use of drones at races it or­ga­nizes.

On Fri­day, Swiss broad­cast­ers filmed the cam­era f alling into the empty fin­ish area.

“The pi­lot hit the cable caus­ing it to break and the cam­era fell into the fin­ish area,” FIS spokesper­son Jenny Wiedeke said in a state­ment. “The po­lice are go­ing to in­ves­ti­gate this fur­ther.”

The Swiss mil­i­tary team, made up of Pi­la­tus PC-7 turbo train­ers, was tak­ing part in a sec­ond day of ex­er­cises over the course. The air- planes are sched­uled to per­form dis­plays on Satur­day and Sun­day when big crowds are ex­pected for the women’s and men’s slalom races.

The pi­lot later landed safely at nearby Samedan, po­lice said at a brief news con­fer­ence.

The race re­sumed after a 30 minute de­lay.

Chair lifts were stopped as a pre­cau­tion after the in­ci­dent and some rac­ers were de­layed in­spect­ing the course. They were al­lowed a fur­ther 30 min­utes to ex­am­ine the sec­ond run gate-set­ting.

GIAN EHRENZELLER, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Gold medal­ist Aus­tria’s Mar­cel Hirscher re­acts in the fin­ish area dur­ing the sec­ond run of the men Gi­ant Slalom race at the 2017 Alpine Skiing World Cham­pi­onships in St. Moritz, Switzer­land, Fri­day.

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