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High winds wreak havoc in Switzerland with another women's downhill called off

Persistent strong winds on the Matterhorn mountain wiped out another women's World Cup downhill Sunday, a day after gusts forced the cancellation of the first speed race of the season.

The cancellations came a week after both men's downhills on the same course were called off because of heavy snowfalls and strong winds.

The Zermatt-Cervinia downhills against the backdrop of the Matterhorn, the first cross-border races in World Cup history, were introduced by FIS last season as a potentially spectacular opening of the speed season, but all four race weekends have been cancelled so far.

The races in October and November 2022 didn't take place amid a lack of snow after an unseasonably warm autumn.

As a result, there has yet to be a downhill race at the Gran Becca course, which starts in Switzerland at 3,700 metres (12,100 feet) and crosses the border to finish in Italy.

The ongoing cancellations prompted suggestions that next year the event should be moved to later in the season.

"We will need in the next weeks or month [to] sit together – the organizing committee, all the stakeholders, the two ski federations, and FIS -- and make all the proper analysis what happened and then the decisions for the future," said Peter Gerdol, the women's race director of the International Ski and Snowboard Federation.

However, local organizers said they are committed to hosting races in November.

"Sponsors in March, April are much less interested because then summer sport is at its peak. They are interested because it's the beginning of the season," said Franz Julen, head of the local organizing committee.

"If this sport wants speed events this time of the year, we are the only region who can provide it because of the height," Julen added.