Money dispute threatens Swiss ski race’s World Cup status

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FILE – In this Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019 file photo, Monaco’s Arnaud Alessandria speeds down the course during an alpine ski, men’s World Cup downhill in Wengen, Switzerland. The signature Alpine skiing race in Switzerland risks being dropped from the World Cup schedule in a money dispute with the national ski federation. Organizers traded statements with Swiss-Ski on Wednesday May 20, 2020, and confirmed their ongoing legal case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. (AP Photo/Gabriele Facciotti, File)

WENGEN, Switzerland (AP) — The signature Alpine skiing race in Switzerland risks being dropped from the World Cup schedule because of a money dispute with the national ski federation.

Organizers of the Lauberhorn men’s downhill in Wengen traded statements with Swiss-Ski on Wednesday and confirmed their ongoing legal case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The public spat followed Swiss-Ski declining to propose the three-race Lauberhorn meeting in January 2022 on that season’s World Cup calendar managed by the International Ski Federation (FIS).

The Swiss ski body said it “cannot meet the financial demands” made by the organizing committee in Wengen.

Because of the case at CAS, the federation said it limited its risk on the 2021-22 schedule by proposing a placeholder “Switzerland” designation instead of Wengen.

Wengen has been a fixture on the men’s World Cup since the debut 1967 season, and next January’s races will be the 91st annual Lauberhorn meeting.

The Saturday downhill typically attracts 30,000 spectators to the mountain and one of Swiss television’s biggest audience ratings each year. Swiss racers have won six of the last 11 editions.

Wengen officials said the dispute centers on its share of television rights from Swiss-Ski.

They criticized an “unsportsmanlike” approach of the national federation in withdrawing the calendar proposal without consultation.

The dispute has been aired publicly as Swiss-Ski leader Urs Lehmann, a former downhill world champion, is campaigning to be president of world governing body FIS.

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