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Ligety, Guay criticize downhill course at world skiing championships

Photo: HERBERT NEUBAUER/EPA

Erik Guay gets ready to take off for a training run on the world championships downhill course.

SCHLADMING, Austria (AP) -- Defending champion Erik Guay of Canada criticized the downhill course at the world ski championships after training on Thursday, calling one of the jumps "way too big."

Guay said he hurt his back while landing after the 30-meter jump.

"That's ridiculous," Guay said. "Any course you should be able to push in the first training run and not have to worry about injuries like that."

Super-G world champion Ted Ligety, who will race downhill in the super-combined event on Monday, shared his criticism.

"There are a couple of really big jumps onto really flat landings," the American said. "I'm always for big jumps, but big jumps with flat landings are not that sweet. It's pretty harsh landing over those jumps."

Guay agreed the height of the jump and flat landing were causing problems.

"As long as it's a low flight and you land without big impact you can go 60-70 meters and no issue - we have that at other places in the World Cup," Guay said. "It's just the landing when it's too flat that everything comes into your legs and your back as shock absorbers."

International Ski Federation race director Guenter Hujara said course workers would try to slightly lower the jump ahead of Friday's second training.

"It's very difficult there. We can't take it down too far," Hujara said. "We have helpers on it and we'll see tomorrow morning."

More racers were unhappy with course conditions for the opening training, in which Hannes Reichelt of Austria posted the fastest time ahead of Italians Dominik Paris and Christof Innerhofer.

After overnight snowfall, the icy course was partly covered by spots of soft snow.

"It's tough, mostly due to the conditions," Aksel Lund Svindal said. "It's icy at some places and there are a lot of places where there is still a lot of bad, fresh snow that shouldn't be there. They'll have a lot of work to do on that."

The Norwegian, trailing leader Paris by three points in this season's World Cup downhill standings, expected a tough race.

"There's not that much gliding," Svindal said. "There are so many rolls that it doesn't feel like gliding."

Reichelt came down the 3.3-kilometer course in 2 minutes, 2.98 seconds. Paris was 0.11 behind and Innerhofer, the 2011 silver medalist, trailed Reichelt by 0.35.

Guay and Svindal finished fourth and fifth respectively, while last season's World Cup downhill champion Klaus Kroell was sixth. The rest of the field trailed Reichelt by more than a second.

A second training is scheduled for Friday, followed by the race on Saturday.

The course will be shortened on Friday as training takes place in between the two runs of the women's super-combined, which uses the same finish area.

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