The women's giant slalom on the Rettenbach glacier in the Austrian resort of Soelden was due to kick off the new World Cup ski season

Sölden (Austria) (AFP) - The new World Cup ski season got off to a false start on Saturday when organisers cancelled the women’s giant slalom in Soelden just hours before it was due to begin because of bad weather conditions.

Heavy rain fell, turning into snow, on the Tyrol station 2,500m up on the Rettenbach glacier, where the race was to take place.

“Due to the current weather situation and the future weather forecast, today’s Soelden woman’s giant slalom is cancelled,” the organisers tweeted.

Official training had already been cancelled on Friday due to a strong wind which prevented the ski lifts from operating.

The last cancellation in Soelden, which has opened the alpine ski season for more than 20 years at the end of October, dates back to 2018 when the men’s race could not start.

The World Cup is now set to get underway on Sunday with a men’s giant slalom.

Both men’s downhill races scheduled for Zermatt/Cervinia next weekend have also been cancelled because of a lack of snow.

The International Ski Federation (FIS), faced with a total lack of slow at the bottom of the piste, had pushed back its traditional “snow control” in a bid to allow colder temperatures to set in to allow the artificial snow created by cannons to settle.

“Ultimately, however, we must recognise that nature is always stronger than man,” said Franz Julen, head of the local organising committee.

However, officials remain hopeful of staging two women’s downhills at the cross-border venue straddling Switzerland and Italy on November 5-6.