France's Clement Noel speeds down the course during an alpine...

France's Clement Noel speeds down the course during an alpine ski, men's World Cup slalom race, in Bansko, Bulgaria, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. Credit: AP/Piermarco Tacca

BANSKO, Bulgaria — Heavy rain forced the cancellation of a men's World Cup slalom Sunday after 31 starters in the opening run, with Olympic champion Clement Noel leading the race.

Organizers initially interrupted the event but then called it off as conditions failed to improve.

The International Ski and Snowboard Federation said the safety of the racers was at stake due to the “inconsistent conditions with visibility.”

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the race will be rescheduled. The next two slaloms take place in the United States — in Palisades Tahoe on Feb. 25 and in Aspen on March 3.

Wet snow in the morning hours and persistent rain during the race softened the top layer of the Tomba course, and the track visibly worsened with each racer starting.

No skier after the top eight managed to finish within two seconds of Noel’s lead, a massive time difference for a slalom race.

Noel started second and the Frenchman beat Timon Haugan by 0.27 seconds, although TV footage suggested that Noel straddled a gate about 17 seconds into his run.

Norway's Timon Haugan speeds down the course during an alpine...

Norway's Timon Haugan speeds down the course during an alpine ski, men's World Cup slalom race, in Bansko, Bulgaria, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. Credit: AP/Piermarco Tacca

“I don’t know, it’s the first time in my life that I don’t know. I don’t think so, but my run was good,” Noel told Austrian TV.

Haugan’s Norwegian teammate Henrik Kristoffersen was 0.38 behind in third, as no other racer finished within a second of the lead.

Manuel Feller, who leads the discipline standings after seven races, was 1.30 behind in fifth.

It was the second slalom this season that was cancelled because of poor weather, after a race in Val d'Isere, France had to be called off in December.

Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen speeds down the course during an alpine...

Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen speeds down the course during an alpine ski, men's World Cup slalom race, in Bansko, Bulgaria, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. Credit: AP/Piermarco Tacca

The men's World Cup continues in Norway with a downhill and super-G in Kvitfjell next weekend.

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