The traditional start of the Alpine skiing World Cup plans to go ahead a week earlier than planned in October with reduced spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The season-opening women’s and men’s giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria, will be Oct. 17-18. Moving them a week earlier will better separate the races from tourist crowds and help with accommodations, according to the Austrian ski federation.

The federation said the races on the Rettenbach glacier will be held “without a large number of spectators.”

The World Cup schedule from October through March is still on, including usual stops in the U.S. and Canada in late November and early December, plus the February world championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

Last season was cut short due to the pandemic, canceling the final two weeks of racing, including the World Cup Finals in Cortina.

Standings leaders Federica Brignone of Italy and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway were declared World Cup overall champions.

Mikaela Shiffrin led the standings by a comfortable 370 points when she took her break from racing following the death of her father, Jeff, on Feb. 2. Shiffrin traveled to Are, Sweden, to return for the last weekend of races in March before they were canceled.

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