Swiss ski resort plans to create longest World Cup downhill

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 2½ 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.