February 10, 2007
ARE, SWEDEN - (USST News Bureau Release) - Race courses at the 2007 FIS Alpine World Championships empty into the same finish area just across the road from Lake Are. Envision a V - the men's course forms the 2.92K Olympia course lefthand side of the letter while the women's 2.24K WM Strecke is the right side of the V. The women's slalom and GS courses are a third route, forming a shorter line just inside the speed run; the men's tech courses start lower on Olympia.
Are was to have been the alpine venue when Ostersund bid multiple times for the Winter Olympics in the Eighties and Nineties, losing to Lillehammer (Ostersund was runnerup in the balloting), Nagano (third) and Salt Lake City. More recently, there also was an unsuccessful bid to host the 2014 Games. Sweden hosted the 1912 Summer Olympics but never has hosted a Winter Games.
The men's speed course in Are was to have been the Olympic - hence, Olympia - run. The women's new DH course is named for these championships, Weltmeisterschaften in German, WM almost everywhere else in Europe; Strecke is Swedish for track.
Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA) missed the super G because he had what appeared to be a pulled muscle, which may have been caused by heavy coughing spasms. Taking off that race and resting while the super combined was run has helped the two-time Olympian back to some stronger measure of health and he's anxious to compete in the downhill.
"I'm feeling better," he said. "It's just going to take some time to get over...but I can race. That's what I came here for."
The super combined is not the only new event on the World Championships menu in Are. Monday, there will be the first qualification race for the men's giant slalom. International Ski Federation President Gian Franco Kasper explained in a pre-championships press conference the qualifying had become necessary because 140 athletes had indicated they would be running GS, creating a huge field, which would take overly long times to run.
Under the qualification format, the top 50 entries on the World Cup Start List, which tracks results over 365 days, get an automatic ticket. Thus, with each nation allowed four starters (plus Austrian getting an extra spot because Hermann Maier is the reigning GS world champion), the 50th guaranteed start spot could go to an athlete ranked well beyond No. 50.
Once that field of 50 is determined, the remaining entries will take two runs of GS and the top 25 skiers will get a start slot Wednesday in the men's GS.