FILE UNDER -- Alpine

St. Moritz: Dorfmeister avoid course collision in downhill leg won by Paerson

St. Moritz: Dorfmeister avoid course collision in downhill leg won by Paerson{mosimage}ST. MORITZ, Switzerland – Defending overall champion Anja Paerson of Sweden was fastest in the downhill leg of a women’s World Cup super-combi on Sunday, while Michaela Dorfmeister narrowly avoided a serious collision with a course worker.

Paerson completed the 2,828-meter Corviglia course in 1 minute, 34.12 seconds. Overall leader Janica Kostelic was second with 1:34.33, with Austria’s Renate Goetschl third in 1:34.37.

Dorfmeister was traveling at almost 80 kilometers per hour (50 miles per hour) when she nearly collided with a course worker on her line. The experienced 32-year-old Austrian reacted quickly, lifting her right ski and swerving closer to the gate to avoid him.
Paerson covered her mouth with her hands as she watched Dorfmeister’s run on the jumbo screen in the leader’s box.

”I thought about whether I should veer off course to avoid him completely,” Dorfmeister said. ”But if I did, I would have to run the downhill a second time and I needed to keep my strength for the afternoon’s slalom run.”

International Ski Federation rules allow skiers to rerun a race or leg, if they are distracted by officials, jury members or course workers during their run, but they must stop immediately.
The course worker, or officials who instructed him, could potentially face sanctions.

”They are dealing with it,” FIS secretary general Sarah Lewis told The Associated Press. ”It depends on the circumstance. They need to find out exactly what happened. It shows the importance of respecting instructions. This is the reason why access to the course is so limited and restricted – because the risk is there.”

Lewis said only Dorfmeister’s quick reflexes prevented the kind of disaster that has happened before. In 2001, France’s Regine Cavagnoud died from head injuries after slamming into German coach Markus Anwander during a joint training session on Austria’s Pitztal glacier. At the 1996 World Championships, downhill racer Tatiana Lebedeva and an American ski official each broke legs in a collision.

”My first reaction was how well she (Dorfmeister) reacted,” Lewis said. ”Afterward, you think about what has happened before, where the consequences were so serious. This time, fortunately, it wasn’t.”

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