All courses at the Schladming World Championships end in the 24,000 seat stadium, which seems like a great idea. But it has raised an issue.
On the evening of the first, and only full length, training run for the men’s World Championship downhill, FIS Race Director Guenther Hujara said, “We saw today that this is a real downhill.”
He proceeded to say the second training run would end short of the final pitch and added the race jury had determined a short training run of the final pitch, from the GS start, would be held Saturday morning, before the 11am downhill title race. That run was added when the jury noted multiple skiers having difficulty finding the line onto the finish pitch in the full length test run.
Hujara stressed that because of a limited time frame the Saturday training run of the bottom half of the course would be limited to those skiers expecting to start in the downhill and not those skiing just in combined.
Two coaches voiced dismay, presumably of many. Canada’s Peter Bosinger, one of the liaison coaches for the event, said: “How the schedule was presented where we did not have time for two full training runs is confusing for me and I think for other coaches, at this time of the championships. How wasn’t this looked at initially prior to the championships?”
Hujara commented the program was developed over two or three years and numerous entities, including the organizers, television and sponsors, had input.
Matthias Berthold, the Austrian coach also spoke out. “On the day of the most important race of the whole World Championships having a training run in the morning is something that is not good for the race and not good to the athletes and we cannot understand how we can get in a situation like that; that we cannot have a full training run due to a bad organized race schedule and training schedule. This is something that I cannot understand and our racers definitely do not understand.”
Hujara hesitated before responding. “I say nothing. I want to protect you. We are in Austria, you know all the organizing committee and you know who is running the show.”
The Friday downhill training of the upper portions of the course also created some logistic problems. A makeshift restricted zone will be created where athletes will exit the course above the slalom start. The area will also need to accommodate industry representative as well as slipping crews from both the men’s training run and the downhill leg of the women’s combined.
Complaints from competitors that the dye marking the edges of the course and dye hash marks on jumps was inadequate was also discussed with Hujara saying all of the markings had been clear but that coaches slipping the course had scrapped it away. “The jury will be blamed for it,” he admonished, then pleaded for cooperation.
The time frame for the Saturday morning partial training run is a brief one hour window.