Women's Olympic venue draws criticism after test eventTweet
Women’s Olympic venue draws criticism after test eventSAN SICARIO, Italy – The Austrians complained that it was too easy. One skier likened the course to a highway, another suggested that it be moved. U.S. skier Lindsey Kildow called for a more challenging layout. An Italian official blamed the Austrian coach for all the commotion.
The women’s speed course for next year’s Turin Olympics made a contentious debut Friday.
Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria tied for third behind winner Anja Paerson of Sweden in a super giant slalom, and she wonders if the women should even be skiing on such a course for the Winter Games.
“It’s an easy super G,” Dorfmeister said. “It’s quite a long course, but it’s not a difficult slope. It would be a good idea to move it.”
Not everyone, however, was unhappy. Among those skiers was Croatia’s Janica Kostelic, who was fifth and is second to Paerson in the overall World Cup standings.
“Some of the girls are really mad. I’m not,” she said. “I had a good result, so I can’t complain.”
Dorfmeister proposed that the Olympic super G be shifted to nearby Sestriere, where the men will race and where the women competed at last year’s World Cup finals and the 1997 world championships.
“There’s no sense in putting more gates, then it would be too slow,” Dorfmeister said, responding to a suggestion that a more difficult course be put in place.
Austrian coach Bernd Zobel set Friday’s course under World Cup rules that rotate the job among coaches from race to race. Gianni Poncet, the Turin Games competition manager in charge of alpine skiing for the 2006 Games, defended the way the course was set.
“It’s perfect for the Olympics, and if the Austrians didn’t like the layout then they could have modified it themselves, since the course-setter was Austrian,” he said. “If he wanted to add more turns, he could have done so very easily. The best skiers in the world finished on top today. It’s very important for our organization to stay here and have the Olympic Games here.”
Dorfmeister was able to use her downhill skis for the super G because it was so straight. Renate Goetschl, the most prominent Austrian speedster, finished seventh and compared the course to an “autostrada,” Italian for highway.
“It’s too slow. Forget it,” Goetschl said. “The downhill is OK, it has jumps and bumps.”
Paerson was unsure of the best solution.
“Sometimes it’s also hard to ski easy courses,” she said. “It makes it more challenging to win because the times are so close together. It’s good to have courses where you can attack.”
Kildow, third behind Dorfmeister and Goetschl in the super-G standings, came in 13th.
“I think the course setters need to rethink what they’re doing because it was a little too easy,” she said. “It’s good because it would be a tight race, but it also needs to be challenging. The terrain is good. I think it’s all a matter of how well it’s set.”
While Paerson beat runner-up Isolde Kostner of Italy by a large margin (0.57 seconds), the third- to seventh-place skiers were separated by just 0.04 seconds in a race in which every skier finished.
“There are no dangerous parts, so you can really just enjoy it all the way through,” Kostner said. “I already won the world title in Sestriere, so I don’t really care which course is used.”
Snow plays a big role in determining a course’s difficulty, and a light snowfall Thursday night may have softened the slope.
Teams complained that the women’s course in Santa Caterina was too challenging midway through the recently concluded world championships. Organizers trimmed a big jump to satisfy complaints and make the course safer after several high-speed crashes.
Italian coach Valerio Ghirardi pointed out that Friday’s winner – Paerson – was the same skier who captured the super-G world title less than a month ago.
“That seems like a guarantee to me,” the coach said. “I really don’t understand this criticism.”