That Arctic chill gripping much of North America has one beneficial side effect: The skiing events at next month's Winter Olympics should go off on schedule.
Subzero temperatures have been conducive to making gobs and gobs of snow on Mt. Allan, and a spokesman for the Calgary organizers said this week that the downhill run is now covered, as are Nakiska's shorter Alpine courses and the Nordic tracks at Canmore. So, barring a series of hot Chinook winds between now and the Feb. 13 opening, the Games won't have to rely anymore on nature's whims.
This is in contrast to last winter, when pre-Olympic races designed to test the Mt. Allan runs had to be shortened or curtailed because of a shortage of snow and--even worse--the persistence of above-freezing temperatures that made it almost impossible for the extensive snow-making system to operate.
The current conditions on this continent are also in marked contrast to the situation in Europe, where the World Cup Alpine schedule has been drastically revised because of spotty snow cover in the Alps.
One of the main casualties is the classic Hahnenkamm event originally set for Jan. 16-17 at Kitzbuhel, Austria, which has been canceled. The revised World Cup calendar for the rest of January:
MEN--Saturday and Sunday, downhill and super-G, Val d'Isere, France; Tuesday, slalom, Lienz, Austria; Jan. 16-17 (tentative), downhill, slalom and combined, Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria; Jan. 19, giant slalom, Adelboden, Switzerland; Jan. 23-24, downhill and super-G, Wengen, Switzerland (plus tentatively another downhill); Jan. 30-31, downhill and giant slalom, Chamonix, France (plus tentatively another downhill).
WOMEN--Saturday, super-G, Lech, Austria; Jan. 15-16 (tentative), downhill and giant slalom, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia; Jan. 17, slalom, Lenggries, Austria; Jan. 23-24, downhill, slalom and combined, Badgastein, Austria; Jan. 30-31, slalom and giant slalom, Maribor, Yugoslavia.
The women managed to ski their second giant slalom in two days at Tignes, France, Wednesday, and Carole Merle, 23, of France, third behind Swiss winner Vreni Schneider Tuesday, scored the first World Cup victory of her career in 2 minutes 27.96 seconds.
Maria Walliser of Switzerland, who is fourth in the World Cup standings with 85 points, placed second in 2:28.62, with Blanca Fernandez-Ochoa of Spain third in 2:28.63.
Debbie Armstrong was the only American to finish the first run, in a tie for 14th, but she missed a gate and was disqualified in the second.
Michela Figini of Switzerland is still the women's overall leader with 106 points; Fernandez-Ochoa and Anita Wachter of Austria are tied for second with 90 apiece.
The men on the U.S. Pro Tour will compete for $40,000 in prize money at Heavenly Valley this weekend, starting with qualifying Friday on the World Cup Trail. The slalom will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, the giant slalom at 11 a.m. Sunday.
Joakim Wallner of Sweden tops the standings after the first three stops on the circuit.
Effective Jan. 15, the men's and women's tours will both be managed by North American Pro Ski Corp. The women, competing under the Women's Pro Ski Racing Inc. banner for the last time, will be at Haystack, Vt., Saturday and Sunday.
Seven Southland ski areas--Goldmine, Snow Summit, Snow Valley, Snow Forest, Mountain High, Mt. Baldy and Mt. Waterman--were in operation Wednesday on 12 to 54 inches of snow.
Ski Sunrise plans to reopen today, and Ski Green Valley will run its lifts Friday through Sunday.
The women's pro giant slalom at Park City, Utah, earlier this season will be shown on Channel 56 Saturday at 3 p.m. The station also broadcasts two-minute ski reports every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 6, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. . . . Guests on ESPN's "Subaru Ski World With Bob Beattie" Sunday at 2:30 p.m., PST, include tennis pro Vic Braden, who now has a skiing "college" at Aspen, Colo., and former U.S. Ski Team racers Christin Cooper and Mark Tache, who were recently married. . . . The U.S. Olympic cross-country ski team will train at Jeremy Ranch, Utah, Feb. 1-9. . . . Matti Nykaenen of Finland underscored his role as favorite for the Olympic 90-meter jumping gold medal by winning the final event of the annual Four Hills tournament Wednesday at Bischofshofen, Austria. Nykaenen, who won three of the four jumps in the weeklong competition, leads the World Cup standings with 195 points. Pavel Ploc of Czechoslovakia is second with 137, followed by Jiri Parma of Czechoslovakia with 90 and Jens Weissflog of East Germany with 71. Mike Holland of Norwich, Vt., the top American, is tied for 13th with 29.