Tough course conditions persist on men's World Cup

26 January 2012 15:22

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany—A sunny, blue sky day was misleading as course conditions proved difficult for the racers in the first downhill training on the Kandahar track.

Hannes Reichelt was fastest with a time of 1 minute, 57.62 seconds. Peter Fill was 0.65 back in second. Yet both athletes missed a gate. Klaus Kroell skied clean with a time of 1 minute, 58.54 seconds. Aksel Lund Svindel was fouth, Adrien Theaux fifth.

The course is nice,” Reichelt said, “but the snow conditions are sometimes really bad. They had a bad preparation of the slope so I hope they can make it better for the next days.”

That was the consensus today, where the athletes said the challenge included poor visibility—a shaded run—plus soft snow, broken and chunky balls of ice.

Snow fall this January has continued to create challenges for not only the athletes but the course workers. The start of training was delayed an hour this afternoon to allow for more snow removal on parts of the course. Earlier in the week, some 60 centimeters of snow fell on the Kandahar, creating overall soft conditions.

Jan Hudec said it was like skiing on a powder field then jumping into a ice chunks so much so that “it's like your teeth could fall out” chattering from the transition. Fill said: “It's pretty difficult, fast and turny—not so easy.”

Unlike the 2011 World Championship course here, the track is set as the “old” men's downhill course which the athletes haven't skied on for five years. In 2007, Erik Guay won on that course and is the Downhill World Champion on the new course. He has won on both. In 2010, he also won the super G on the Kandahar, a 3-kilometer ride with a 920 meter elevation change.

Guay, who finished in the 7th spot today, said he doesn't mind the challenging conditions even though he has been battling a cold since Kitzbuhel. “It's tough,” he said about the course, “a lot of rattling through it today, probably can expect it to get firmer and faster. Garmish is always a pretty tough one. I'm happy that's it's rough though, makes it challenging.”

He has been knocking on the podium door this year, his best result has been fourth in the Bormio downhill. In every downhill race except Beaver Creek and Kitzbuhel, he has been in the top 10, and is looking forward to doing well at Saturday's downhill. “I'm consistent from my training runs to the race day and that's really what you want,” he said. “I'm happy with the way things are progressing.”

Didier Cuche, who finished 17th today also missed a gate, or more accurately skied around it to avoid a hole to “keep his legs” for this weekend, he told reporters.

In typical January 2012 form, more snow is expected this weekend for the races. The Meteo Centrale forecast for tomorrow afternoon: clouds with rain or sleet. Morning temperatures will be around -5 °C. During the day they will rise to a maximum of 3 °C. Low temperatures at night will be around -1 °C.

I've raced here and won here in pretty bad conditions before,” Guay said, “so I'm not too worried about snow. I'm just hoping it's not rain.”

Fill added: “Every weekend is the same this year, we can do nothing.”

Click here for training results 

By Vanessa Pierce