Austria's Hannes Reichelt tops downhill training
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) Hannes Reichelt of Austria posted the fastest time in training for a men's World Cup downhill on Thursday, five days after a heavy crash in another race, and amid a debate on how to make the courses less dangerous.
Reichelt was hospitalized after crashing in the Streif race in Kitzbuehel, but escaped with a bruised bone in his left knee.
He was more fortunate than overall World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway and Georg Streitberger of Austria, who sustained season-ending injuries in Saturday's race.
World Cup skiing officials reacted to the injuries by using more colors and lines to mark the Kandahar course in Garmisch, but many racers said they hardly noticed the difference.
Reichelt said he skipped a gate but was still credited with the top time.
''I still have some pain in my knee, but I am glad to be here,'' Reichelt said. ''I've put the crash well behind me.''
Two Norwegians finished behind Reichelt - Kjetil Jansrud and Aleksander Aamodt Klide. Jansrud was .60 seconds behind, and Kilde was .67 off the pace.
After the crashes on the Streif, World Cup officials hope additional markings in purple and green will reduce the number of crashes and injuries.
Erik Guay, the Canadian who has won two World Cup races in the German resort and a world downhill title in 2011, said the Kandahar course was ''always dark and bumpy.''
''I thought the purple was good, it showed up a lot, but it doesn't really affect me whatever they choose,'' said Guay, who had the 11th fastest time.
''I understand the course pretty well here. I haven't made the podium this year, so it's time to start pushing for those extra points. There are crucial areas on the course where you need to be fast, otherwise you have no chance of winning. You have to risk it. I feel comfortable and ready to charge.''
Beat Feuz of Switzerland, second in Kitzbuehel, said he could see no difference in the colors, but found it good that ''they are trying something to improve the safety of the course.''
Johan Clarey of France said he, too, didn't notice any difference and complained that one jump was too big.
Travis Ganong of the United States agreed. ''The jump is huge,'' Ganong said, adding that skiers will probably ask for it to be reduced before Saturday's race.
''I didn't even notice the lines, the snow was pretty soft,'' Ganong added. ''It's not really winter. It's dead snow, no power, no response, the skis are a lot slower.''
Ganong said making the tracks slower by adding more terrain made them more dangerous. ''It's totally fine if it's sunny, but it's never sunny. This season we've had overcast, snow ... they should try to make it safe in all conditions.''
Andrew Weibrecht, the top American in training in 10th place, said he never noticed the new markings.
''But it's good that they are trying to innovate a bit,'' he said. ''They've gone in so many different directions since I've been around. They are coming back to the true nature of downhill. It's just a dangerous sport and we all accept that risk.''
The latest casualty was Olympic and world giant slalom champion Ted Ligety, who tore ligaments in his right knee in giant slalom training in Germany on Wednesday. The American is returning home.
This story has been corrected to correct the spelling of Ganong throughout.