Slalom specialist Alexis Pinturault competes leads the World Cup

Vienna (AFP) - Two men’s skiing World Cup slaloms this weekend which were moved to Kitzbuehel earlier this week were on Wednesday switched to Flachau after a suspected cluster of the UK coronavirus variant emerged in the Austrian Tyrol.

“For safety reasons, we don’t want the races…to take place in Kitzbuehel this weekend,” the Tyrol regional governor Guenther Platter told a press conference.

The races were originally scheduled for Wengen, but after racing at the Swiss resort was cancelled on Monday because of a rise in virus cases in the area, Kitzbuehel agreed to take two of its three races, a pair of slaloms this weekend.

The races will now be held in Flachau, in the neighbouring state of Salzburg.

Platter said these were being cancelled after the discovery of a suspected cluster of 17 cases of the more infectious variant of the coronavirus which originated in the UK.

Platter said the decision had been taken “so as not to leave ourselves open to the accusation that we weren’t being careful”.

Kitzbuehel is also playing host to two downhill races followed by a Super-G on the famous Streif piste down the Hahnenkamm mountain the following weekend, and Platter indicated that for the moment those would still be going ahead.

“If there are no major problems, next week’s Hahnenkamm races can take place”, added Platter.

The latest cancellation comes less than a month before the winter World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo (Italy, February 8-21).

After last season was cut short by the pandemic, this season is being skied without crowds.

France’s Alexis Pinturault leads the 2020-21 World Cup overall standings.