Downhill Course Earns Director's Praise

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February 9, 2006

SIESTRERE, Italy (AP Press Release)—The men's Olympic downhill course has gone from flop to formidable. Organizers finally got what they had been waiting for Wednesday: praise from World Cup race director Guenter Hujara, who last month called a lack of snow "very critical on the upper part of the Kandahar Banchetta course.

"My biggest compliments. The conditions are now ... very good, said Hujara, the man who ultimately must give the green light to race Sunday's downhill.

After Hujara's criticism last month, Olympic organizers denied any problems with the course _ but then went to work. Five days ago, they called in specialists from the famed downhill course in Kitzbuehel, Austria, to help Olympic workers make, transport and prepare the snow's surface.

"Most of the coaches and some of the tech guys have been on the slope. It's a very challenging course for sure, Hujara said. "Some of the athletes will be excited and others will be surprised.

Official training starts Thursday, and the men's downhill is set for three days later.

The men's downhill, downhill combined and super giant slalom will be run on the Kandahar Banchetta slope. The upper section of each course alternates brief flat stretches with very technical turns. The course then flows through forest, where it becomes steeper and faster with a blend of bends and gliding sections that continue to the finish.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press