CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy (Reuters) – Men’s race director Markus Waldner received death threats following the parallel giant slaloms at the Cortina d’Ampezzo Alpine skiing world championships, the organising committee said on Thursday.
Fondazione Cortina 2021 issued a statement expressing their support and solidarity after the Italian was sent the threats via email.
“For an event like ours, based on the values of sport and fair play, it is unacceptable that an esteemed professional like Markus receives such grave messages, which go beyond normal debate and confrontation,” the statement said.
The men’s and women’s parallel events, with pairs of skiers competing against each other side by side on parallel giant slalom pistes, were being held at world championship level for the first time on Tuesday.
Both proved controversial, particularly the rule stipulating that no skier could end the first run more than half a second behind his or her rival in order to maintain the excitement.
Critics said the very different conditions of the red and blue adjacent pistes meant those having their second runs on the less rutted red layout were favoured.
In the women’s quarter-finals, all four skiers who went last on the blue run were eliminated, including Italy’s Federica Brignone and Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener — both big medal hopes.
“I have never seen such an unfair race,” Brignone told reporters. “Whoever started on blue first had practically already won.”
The women’s final saw Italy’s Marta Bassino and Austrian Katharina Liensberger share gold after initial confusion when their times were level but the tie was not immediately declared.
In the previous knockout heats, the quicker skier on the second run went through.
“I am really happy to win my first individual medal, but there is much that needs to be discussed after today,” said men’s winner Mathieu Faivre of France.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond)