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Franz Klammer says ski racing has become too fast

Franz Klammer says ski racing has become too fast{mosimage}Former Olympic downhill champion Franz Klammer says ski racing has become too fast.

The Austrian, downhill gold medalist at the 1976 Innsbruck Games, said the shape of racing skis needs to be changed to ensure athletes’ safety.

“There has to be a limit like in Formula One where they are going from 10 cylinders to eight,” Klammer said Thursday. “Speeds on the straights are way too fast, people are injuring themselves without even falling.”

Klammer, in Rome to take part in the Torino Olympics torch relay, also called for changes in the way courses are prepared. Klammer will carry the torch Friday outside Rome in the second day of the Torino relay.

“Carrying the Olympic spirit is very important to me. My results at the Olympics changed my life,” he said. “I took part in the Innsbruck Opening Ceremony and I am just as proud now to carry the torch.”

Klammer met with slalom great Alberto Tomba on Thursday. Tomba is considered the favorite to light the flame at the Opening Ceremony in Torino on Feb. 10.

“Everyone dreams of lighting the flame. They have asked me to be at the stadium. It’s only right that it’s a surprise,” he said.

Tomba was the first skier to win medals at three Winter Olympics and Italy has struggled to produce a genuine winter sports star since he retired in 1998.

Tomba said that new local ski stars “are coming,” mentioning Giorgio Rocca, winner of the World Cup season’s first slalom race Sunday.

“Racing at home is a huge responsibility, it’s not easy,” Tomba said of the pressure Rocca and other Italians will face in Torino.

As usual, Austrians will be among the favorites in skiing at the Games. Klammer, however, would like to see Austrian dominance weakened somewhat.

“I’m proud of our team but it would be better for the sport overall,” he said, adding that the favorites usually don’t win at the Olympics anyway — “except Alberto and myself.”

What do you think?


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