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Lindsey Vonn’s comeback delayed as Alpine races canceled

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ALTENMARKT-ZAUCHENSEE, Austria (AP) — Lindsey Vonn‘s return to World Cup skiing has been delayed for at least a day after snowfall forced the cancellation of downhill training and the race itself on Saturday.

Organizers moved the program to Sunday, with the race set for a 6:15 a.m. ET start (NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app). A combined event, which was originally scheduled for Sunday, was canceled. Weather was forecast to improve overnight.

Also, a World Cup men’s downhill scheduled in Wengen, Switzerland, was canceled Saturday due to heavy snowfall and fog. A slalom is scheduled Sunday.

Vonn, a four-time overall champion, and American teammate Julia Mancuso planned to make their World Cup comebacks this weekend after extensive injury layoffs.

Saturday’s program was initially delayed for at least an hour as course workers were still busy moving fresh snow off the course at the scheduled start time for training, but conditions failed to improve. The snowfall would also have limited visibility for the skiers.

To shorten the distance to be cleaned, the start gate for the downhill had been lowered, which stripped the Kalberloch course of its trademark steep pitch from the initial start.

“Unfortunately the weather is not helping us,” Vonn said shortly before the race was called off for the day. “The snow is very soft. Hopefully the course workers can do something.”

Slovenian Ilka Stuhec, who won all three races so far this season to lead the downhill standings, said she “would love to race.”

“But there is a limit when you shouldn’t race anymore but stay healthy instead,” the Slovenian said.

Bad weather also canceled training for the last two days, prompting organizers to reschedule the mandatory session two hours before the race. A downhill race cannot be held without prior training.

It’s the second straight season that the event has been affected by poor weather conditions. Last year, the downhill took place on a shortened course in an unusual two-run format, which was won by Vonn.

If Sunday’s program was canceled as well, the next opportunity to race for Vonn and Mancuso will be in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, where a downhill and a super-G are scheduled for next weekend.

There will be one more speed event ahead of next month’s world championships, in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, on Jan. 28-29.

MORE: Bode Miller plans to race next season, U.S. coach says

Ted Ligety takes 5th in Wengen super combined (video)

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Ted Ligety improved from 27th after the downhill run to finish fifth in a World Cup super combined in Wengen, Switzerland, on Friday.

Swiss Carlo Janka won the event, the first World Cup victory in four years for the former World Cup overall champion. Janka prevailed by 1.31 seconds over France’s Victor Muffat-Jeandet, who made his first World Cup podium. Croatian Ivica Kostelic was third, 1.38 behind.

Ligety was 1.64 back of Janka after finishing 12th in the Olympic super combined and winning the World Championship in 2013. He’ll be one of the medal favorites at the World Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek, Colo., in February, along with trying to defend his titles in the giant slalom and super-G.

The men’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues with a Wengen slalom Saturday.

Lindsey Vonn unable to match record Friday

Bode Miller delays comeback

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Six-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller will not race at the World Cup stop in Wengen, Switzerland, this weekend, pulling out because he’s not ready to go following November back surgery, according to The Associated Press.

“There’s a lot of risk involved,” Miller, 37, said after a training run in Wengen on Thursday, before the decision to pull out was made. “I also know this hill pretty well. If you’re not physically ready for it, it can damage you.”

Miller said he’s “definitely not in race shape,” according to the AP.

“It was difficult,” U.S. coach Sasha Rearick said of the decision, according to the AP. “He’s a competitor, he wants to race and go out and charge down the mountain.”

Miller hoped to race next week in Kitzbuehel, Austria, at the famed Hahnenkamm downhill and at the World Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek, Colo., in the first two weeks of February.

Lindsey Vonn eyes history in Italy