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Nordic Event Stopped by Blizzard

February 24, 1999

RAMSAU, Austria (AP) _ The Nordic Ski World Championship’s combined team event was postponed for a day because of a heavy snowfall on Wednesday.

``We haven’t had so much snow in 25 years,″ said organizing committee head Wolfgang Mitter. ``We need a day without competition to clear the snow away.″

A blizzard that lasted nearly 24 hours added about 2 feet of fresh snow overnight, and the organizers could not deal with the amount of snow in the stadium and at the bottom of the ski jumping hill.

``We just didn’t have enough time to clear the incredible mass of snow from the stadium,″ Mitter said.

Even snow-clearing machines had trouble getting through the mountains of snow. Heavy trucks and snow plows were being used in a continuous effort to remove the fresh snow.

Few roads were open and the official shuttle service had trouble keeping with the schedule. Many abandoned cars hindered the job of snow plows.

The bad weather since the start of the championship Friday has caused organizers to suffer ``considerable financial losses,″ Mitter said.

He said 105,000 fans had come out for the first five days of competition, 50,000 below expectations.

``We still believe, though, that we can reach the figure of 200,000 by the weekend,″ Mitter said.

Many owners of concession stands said they would not cover the expensive rent because of the fewer number of spectators.

About 1,600 volunteers have been working up to 16 hours of days in their battle against the wintry conditions.

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