World Cup Diary: Will Kitzbuehel be even gnarlier than usual this year?{mosimage}A rumor has been floating around the World Cup that the famed downhill track in Kitzbuehel, Austria, will be rougher than usual this year.

It’s said that the Austrian army will prepare the piste using “the old-school methods” of water and boot-packing. “We’ve heard that,” said the American team’s head speed coach, John McBride. “It’s good for us because that’s the way Daron likes it. The gnarlier, the better for him.”

But FIS World Cup race director Gunther Hujara let the air of that particular rumor. “That’s what we always do,” he said. “We always try to have the best conditions, and we never do anything artificial. It’s never our intent. We always want to have excellent conditions like we had at Beaver Creek.”

Hermann Maier, for one, thinks that a cheese-grater surface at Kitzbuehel would be good for the sport. “If the track or the slope is smoother, it’s not as interesting for the spectators,” he said in an interview. “With Formula One, if the track is bumpy, you can see it, because the car is jumping. That’s spectacular. … For example, Klammer was going only 100 kilometers (about 62 mph) and he was shaking like this, and everyone can remember this. Now you’re only in this downhill position. Very fast, but nobody can see the speed. You can’t see the speed on the television.”

Maier said he suspected many fellow racers agreed, and that he had liked the preparation of the course at Bormio this year. That downhill, scheduled for December 28, was cancelled because of a snowstorm. He also indicated that after this season, he might try to use his influence to alter the FIS policies concerning such things as course preparation. “I guess after this season maybe it’s possible that it’s addressed,” he said.

Now that Maier is back for real, he says he feels “ready to give something to the sport.” Talking to the FIS, he said, “is nearly impossible.” Pointing to each of his ears in turn, he says his words are “this side in and this side out.”

“I think it was not a criticism from Hermann,” said Hujara, when offered a chance to respond. “It was only a remark from his side of what he likes. We know that before his accident he liked very icy, rough courses. And maybe that’s the best for him. Other racers like smoother turns, and we try to go for the mixture and in the end we are depending on what we see with the weather.”

Maier and Hujara have a troubled history. Hujara once disqualified Maier for spending too much time inspecting a course, and just this October they fought over Maier’s post-injury world ranking.

Hujara says the FIS will continue to aim for a fair balance of race conditions. “Racers have to learn that they have to go along with the conditions,” said Hujara. “The courses are a mixture. …It’s like in all other circuits through the year, like Formula One; you have some changing characters or profiles [to the courses]. So if a racer wants to win the overall title he has to go with all of them. Eberharter showed how to do it last year.”

Article Tags: Alpine



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