ZERMATT, Switzerland — A downhill ski race that would be the longest in the World Cup is being planned to join the men’s circuit on a course connecting Switzerland and Italy near the Matterhorn mountain.
Officials in Zermatt told Swiss daily NZZ a 5-kilometer (3-mile) race could be ready to start in November 2022.
Racers would start at around 3,900 meters (12,800 feet) altitude on the Swiss side of the border and drop 1,100 meters (3,600 feet) into Italy.
Project leader Franz Julen told the newspaper it would not conflict with or challenge Switzerland’s traditional men’s downhill run at Wengen in January. That race covering 4.4 kilometers in around 2 ½ minutes is currently by far the longest World Cup race.
Wengen’s place on the calendar beyond next season is at risk in a financial dispute between race organizers and the Swiss ski federation over television rights.
No European venue stages a men’s or women’s downhill race before December.
The glaciers at Zermatt could allow November racing before the men’s circuit moves to north America for the traditional first World Cup speed races at Lake Louise, Canada, and Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Julen, the former CEO of retailer Intersport, said Zermatt also wants to stage women’s World Cup races.
Races must be proposed by a national ski body and approved by the International Ski Federation.
But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.
She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.
No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round.
No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the best hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seleswon the 1996 Australian Open.
But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.
Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.
Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.
Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).
No. 9 Taylor Fritz and No. 12 Frances Tiafoe are the highest-seeded Americans, looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.