Alpine skiing: Kitzbuehel downhill training cancelled

Unseasonably warm temperatures and "critical snow conditions" saw Wednesday's first training for this weekend's World Cup men's downhill in Kitzbuehel cancelled.

A race jury inspected the famed Streif course early Wednesday and announced that "due to the lack of cold temperatures and the present critical snow conditions, today's DH (scheduled for 1030 GMT) would be cancelled".

Guenter Hujara, the chief race director for the International Ski Federation (FIS), added: "Conditions are very good in the upper section but you can feel where the fog was sitting over the night.

"In those sections the snow didn't freeze and conditions in the lower section would not allow a training run."

The Hahnenkamm races kick off on Friday with the men's super-G, followed by the downhill on Saturday and the slalom on Sunday.

The speed events take place on the 3.3km-long Streif piste, widely considered one of the most dangerous on the circuit and scene of many a gruesome crash as the racers come down at an average speed of 103km/h.

Struggling with little fresh snowfall and unseasonably clement temperatures which do not dip below freezing overnight, organisers have had to helicopter in tonnes of stored snow to bolster the course in parts, with a contingency plan in place for the dramatic end, which will be re-routed for the super-G.

The racers will be hoping for a full programme after the equally famed Lauberhorn downhill run in Wengen, measuring a thigh-trembling 4.4km, was cut short last week, with more than a minute taken off because of winds.

The final two men's World Cup races before the Sochi Olympics were moved earlier this week from the German resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen to St Moritz, Switzerland.

The men will compete in a downhill on Saturday, February 1, with a giant slalom on the Sunday, before going on to Sochi, which hosts the Olympics from February 6-23.

Garmisch has had problems with a lack of snow and has already seen two women's races re-scheduled as FIS battles the current warm weather sweeping much of Europe.