Skiing: Course made safer after three skiers injured

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The Independent Online
A DANGEROUS Whistler Mountain course had to be modified after three racers suffered knee injuries during practice for today's first men's World Cup race for a month, writes Bill Scott from Whistler Mountain.

The French skiers Denis Rey and Luc Alphand, plus the German Stefan Krauss, had to fly home for surgery after landing badly at a man-made jump which had been added as an afterthought to the 3.8km Dave Murray course. The accidents happened during Wednesday's first practice session. The jump was shaved down and the landing pattern changed to a more safe and sloping terrain.

Another Frenchman, Christophe Fivel, clocked the best practice time on two consecutive days. Fivel had only professional sympathy for his missing team-mates. 'Skiing is an egotistical sport,' he said. 'No one missed me when I was injured and I will go about my business during the race.'

Today's downhill will be the first held at Whistler since 1989, when local racer Rob Boyd won. He fully expects to win again. 'This is our home course and we should take all the advantage that we can,' Boyd said. 'The Euros are no good on the jumps and we are.'

Among the favourites are the Swiss pair of the world champion Urs Lehmann and the veteran Franz Heinzer, and Marc Girardelli, who held back but was still third in Thursday's second run. 'I will never go 100 per cent in practice,' he said. Girardelli should also do well in tomorrow's super-giant slalom.

The Norwegians, including the double world champion Kjetil Aamodt, cannot be counted out in the downhill. 'This is a tough course especially before they changed the bumps,' Aamodt said. 'It was dangerous.'

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