FILE UNDER -- Alpine

Downhill start positions still a controversial subject

Downhill start positions still a controversial subject{mosimage}Here at the start of the downhill season, reigning overall champion Bode Miller has lashed out at the FIS for the way World Cup downhill start positions are determined. As in years past, start order at this year’s 10 downhills will be a reversal of training run results.

‘The guy who wins the training run should choose his start position, the guy who finishes second should choose second, and so on through the top 30′ said Miller the day before the first of those downhills, at Lake Louise. This was just after Miller had finished fifth in the final training run despite standing up and carving turns, trying to slow down and get himself an earlier start position.

Miller attacked the FIS about the rule. ‘They make the most ridiculous rules about things that make no sense’ he said. ‘I don’t think they like to listen to ideas or logic.’

FIS race director Guenter Hujara took the high road in response, although he made the subject the first topic of discussion at Friday evening’s coaches’ meeting.

‘I think we have seen so many discussions about the right way to do the start postions’ Hujara said, addressing the World Cup coaches from every nation present in Lake Louise. ‘I ask you all to think over what you will think is the best way, give us your proposals, and we will work through this all winter.’

Toni Giger, head of the FIS men’s coaches’ working group, said there will be a meeting of the group in Val d’Isere, France, when the men’s tour goes there in mid-December.

Three years ago, the Austrians tested the boundaries of the start position rule at Beaver Creek, signaling to athletes near the finish and presumably telling them they needed to slow down.

The American ski team caught them in the act, videotaping the Austrian coach making the gestures on the final jump. The coach was sanctioned.

The World Cup downhill season begins Saturday at Lake Louise. The American team has eight dogs in the fight. Their start positions are as follows:

17. Daron Rahlves
23. Scott Macartney
25. Steve Nyman
26. Bode Miller
37. Marco Sullivan
39. Justin Johnson
57. Chris Beckmann
64. Erik Fisher

What do you think?


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