February 20, 2015

SAALBACH-HINTERGLEMM, Austria (AP) Downhill leader Kjetil Jansrud chipped his tooth.

Swiss standout Beat Feuz tumbled down the mountain after failing to land a jump.

Brice Roger sliced through two layers of safety netting after he lost control.

The rarely used Schneekristall-Zwolfer course was anything but tame Friday in the final training session for a World Cup downhill.

Fortunately, both Feuz and Roger appeared to avoid serious injury. But there were also 17 skiers, many of them in the top 30 of the rankings, who missed gates.

''It's a fast course, a little too fast,'' said Jansrud, who hit his tooth with his knee. ''It's hard to keep up and then you make a tiny mistake. You see a lot of guys doing that today. It's very over the limit. ... It's not OK. They should do something.''

Travis Ganong, the American who took silver in the downhill at the world championships in Colorado this month, is the official athletes' representative this week. He communicated the complaints to the International Ski Federation after Thursday's opening training but little was changed for Friday.

''They need to bring a cat in there and actually push some real snow around,'' Ganong said. ''They're just using little rakes. They need to reshape some things and make it a little smoother.

''Every little feature they've built is super sharp and has a lip at the end, so it's completely different from anything we normally do,'' Ganong added. ''It's more like a ski cross.''

The last men's downhill on this course was held in 1994, when Ed Podivinsky of Canada won. The resort also hosted the 1991 world championships and is hoping to be Austria's choice to bid for a future worlds.

The downhill race is scheduled for Saturday, with a super-G on Sunday.

The downhill course starts above the tree line and quickly reaches a maximum gradient of 72 percent. Traverses and off-balance turns all the way down the 3.3-kilometer (2-mile) run keep racers out of their comfort zone.

Austrian skiers have had extra training on the course and that showed when the home country swept the top three positions in training, with Max Franz leading local favorite Georg Streitberger and Vincent Kriechmayr.

Even Franz, who also led Thursday's training, acknowledged that the course needed to be tamed.

''They have to shape it a little bit,'' he said.

Austria failed to place a skier in the top 10 in the downhill at the worlds and the team is under pressure to redeem itself this weekend.

Norway and Germany also trained on the course last week.

''It's definitely an advantage, because then you can know the terrain and you know how to adapt,'' said Italian racer Dominik Paris, who is second to Jansrud in both the downhill and super-G standings. ''The jumps don't land well and they're right on the limit. But it's really the waves that you have to worry about to get the right rhythm.''

Adrien Theaux of France didn't appear to be intimidated. He performed a spread eagle on the final jump, which takes skiers over a red sponsor's car packed into the snow.

''If I feel good I do that just for fun,'' Theaux said. ''Just for me, not to do a show.''

Meanwhile, two-time overall champion Aksel Lund Svindal announced earlier this week that he is sitting out the rest of the season to preserve his injury status and ranking. Svindal returned from left Achilles surgery to finish sixth in both the super-G and downhill at the worlds but has not raced in the World Cup this season.


Andrew Dampf can be followed at www.twitter.com/asdampf

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