December 03, 2015

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) Kjetil Jansrud goes back and forth with a herniated disk that's causing him all sorts of discomfort.

On good days, the Norwegian standout effortlessly coasts through a course like he has all week in downhill training sessions.

On the not so good ones, each bump Jansrud hits produces shooting pain. At some point, he may need surgery. Just not now. Not when he's racing so well.

Jansrud enters a World Cup downhill race Friday at Birds of Prey as the defending champion and the favorite. He did nothing to diminish that status in two training runs, winning both and getting faster each time.

''I'm just accepting it's going to be a little painful,'' Jansrud said. ''I'm not the first guy with back problems and I'm not going to be the last. But I'm feeling confident.''

This isn't exactly a back friendly course, though. It's a hill filled with tight turns and nerve-testing terrain. One of the best at figuring out the nuances of the slope has long been Bode Miller, who won't be in the race field - he's taking the season off - but did test out the course for a second straight day Thursday with a camera strapped to a ski pole.

Miller attacked it, too, like he usually does, and was convinced that had this been a race day, he would've been a contender - through the top section, at least.

Any desire to be out there Friday?

''No,'' Miller said. ''But it's fun. It's a pleasure to ski a course like that.''

Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal for one would love to see Miller return to racing at some point. He's just good for skiing, Svindal said, especially given Miller's go-for-broke style.

''He's one of the coolest characters this sport has ever seen,'' Svindal said. ''If everyone was perfect the whole time, it wouldn't be any fun. His personality is very much like his skiing.''

On Thursday's training run, Svindal was 0.76 seconds behind the time of his good friend Jansrud. That's why Svindal believes Jansrud should have all the pressure as the favorite.

However, Svindal did win both races last weekend in Lake Louise in his return to the World Cup circuit after tearing his Achilles tendon last season.

''I see Kjetil as the biggest favorite and hope I can try to steal that away from him,'' Svindal said, grinning.

Peter Fill of Italy and Guillermo Fayed of France have been solid in training, too. Same with Hannes Reichelt of Austria and American Travis Ganong, who wound up sixth Thursday. That's with a near tumble as well.

Ganong scuffed up one of his fingers as he put his right hand on the snow to brace himself. It was on the same hand where he had surgery to fix a torn tendon in his thumb two weeks ago.

''A little scary,'' Ganong said. ''I went down for a second, but got back in it. I had some mistakes. It wasn't the perfect run.

''(Friday) it's going to take an all-out churning run with few mistakes, because the snow is perfect. It's a perfect arena. You try for things that you wouldn't normally try, because it's such a perfect-condition course. It's going to take that special run.''

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