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February 26, 2005
SAN SICARIO, Italy (AP by Andrew Dampf)–The debate over the new women’s course for the Olympics grew Saturday when several top skiers threatened to sign a petition urging another site for the super giant slalom at next year’s Turin Games.
“I think we will do it,” German star Hilde Gerg said, adding there will be more discussions at next month’s World Cup finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
Gerg and fellow speed specialists Michaela Dorfmeister and Renate Goetschl maintain the course is too straight and easy for an Olympic super-G and should be moved 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.
The international ski federation and the local Olympic organizing committee insist that while the course was appropriate for the super-G and downhill, they will make changes during the summer.
“After two years of work and after yesterday’s and today’s races, we can confirm that the course is suited for the speed disciplines,” the statement said.
Among the changes planned: a steeper course in landing areas for jumps, more undulations in the middle of the run, a more daring jump before the finish.
Gerg likes the downhill course but says the super-G is too easy and should be shifted to Sestriere.
“Yesterday, Renate and me, while we were watching the super-G on the (giant TV screen), we agreed that the show wasn’t the right way to present our sport to the public,” she said. “The most important thing is that at the time of the Olympic Games, the women’s course will be the right one.”
Dorfmeister was not even pleased by the downhill, the longest on the women’s circuit.
“This course is too long, it’s very hard on the legs,” she said. “Many girls had problems with the turns, they lost speed in the flat parts, so did I.”
Overall World Cup leader Anja Paerson of Sweden, winner of Friday’s super-G and Saturday’s downhill, wants to stay out of the debate.
“However, if the majority of the girls sign a petition to send to (the federation), I will not be the one not to sign it. If the majority want to move, I will not stand in the way,” she said.
“I can understand why some of the girls have started this discussion. They want really challenging courses. I’m just going to try and win the Olympic gold medal.”
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press