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 . world ski news
27 February 2010 - 20:57
Neureuther's Olympic dream ends after 27 seconds
Canadians shut out of medals
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OLYMPICS, aLPINE SKIING. Italy's Giuliano Razzoli led after the first of two slalom runs Saturday 43/100 seconds ahead of Slovenia Mitja Valencic and Austria's Benjamin Raich in third, while Felix Neureuther (Germany), Manfred Pranger (Austria), Bode Miller and Ted Ligety (both USA) went off course early. He was therefore not the only prominent skier who failed to finish in the light of difficult conditions with slushy snow, foggy skies and deep ruts forming quickly in the course.

Germany's Felix Neureuther skied out in the first run of the Olympic slalom. After posting a good intermediate time, the skier from Garmisch-Partenkirchen lost balance and went-off course after 27 seconds sitting too far back with his center of gravity.

"At the Olympics everyone risks everything. If you want to compete for a medal, you have to take risks," said Neureuther. The 25-year-old was considered a favorite after his victory in Kitzbuehel and his eighth place in the Olympic giant slalom.

It is no consolidation for Neureuther that other top medal contenders also did not finish the first run. Neureuther, whose mother Rosi Mittermaier watched the race from the finish area at Whistler Creekside, was really excited to be competing in the Olympic slalom but missed the chance to continue Germany's Olympic alpine skiing medal surge. The German ladies have collected a total of three Olympic gold medals; two were won by Maria Riesch, who leaves the Vancouver Games with a gold in the super combined and a gold in slalom, while Viktoria Rebensburg unexpectedly claimed gold in giant slalom.

"The fact that the women have earned gold medals, is of little use to me. It may help the overall team atmosphere," Neureuther meant immediately before the slalom race. The last medal for Germany's Alpine men was won 16 years ago, when Markus Wasmeier became a two-time Olympic champion clinching gold in super G and giant slalom at the 1994 Lillehammer Olymic Games.

Wearing bib No. 15, Neureuther blazed down the top of the course, posting a respectable intermediate time, only 0.20 seconds behind first-run leader Razzoli Giuliano from Italy. But in the middle section of the course, Neureuther lost his rhythm as his center of gravity shifted too far back for a moment making it difficult to control his skis. He eventually could not make the next gate and went off-course.

"I feel terribly sorry for Felix. He was so happy to race here. Now we will have to comfort him. It went so quickly, I cannot tell what exactly happened. In the first moment, it is hard to understand and accept. It is so sad, "said Neureuther's mother Rosi Mittermaier.

For Neureuther the Winter Games in Vancouver ended with a big disappointment after a good start finishing eighth in giant slalom. The German does not seem to be a big event skier, having DNFed three times of four Olympic Alpine races. At the 2009 World Championships in Val d'Isère, he narrowly missed a medal coming in fourth. Two years ago he appeared destined to make a medal being in second after the first run at the World Championships in Are, Sweden but then skied out in the second run. In 2006, after two DNFs in slalom and giant slalom at the Turin Winter Olympics, Neureuther faced a lot of criticism.

Neureuther was disappointed after his failure to finish the race. "But life goes on, I'm only 25," he said. "Slalom is a discipline that is not very forgiving," he added, "but I am still one of the world's best slalom skiers."

FISalpine.com
Sunday 28 February 2010

Canadians shut out of medals

With only one Olympic Alpine race left to go, Canada had only one last chance to take a medal in Alpine Skiing at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Going into the men's Slalom, 2009 World Championship bronze medalist and local favourite Michael Janyk was Canada's final medal hope in Alpine Skiing. But dreams that home turf advantage will finally add up to a ski medal and salvage a happy ending for the country did not come true. Janyk's best slalom result this season was a fifth place in Kitzbuehel, Austria.

In the end, Julien Cousineau was the highest Canadian finisher. The 29-year old scored the second fastest time in the second run of the slalom, to move up to 8th from 19th place, proving that Canada could do better than the final results may suggest.

The Canadian skiers wanted to deliver medals in their home Olympics, but it just didn't happen. Since the 1994 Lillehammer Games, the country has not won a medal in an Alpine skiing event.

Looking at the results in the ten medal events in Alpine skiing, it was Canada's top Alpine skier, Erik Guay, who came closest to the podium, placing fifth in downhill and fifth in super-G. His results at the home Olympics evoked memories of his frustrating fourth place in the 2006 Torino super-G, where the legendary Hermann Maier of Austria edged him from the podium by just .01 seconds to take the bronze. The other Canadian medal contenders who were expected to land a podium finish underperformed with Manuel Osborne-Paradis finishing 17th in the downhill and Robbie Dixon crashing in the downhill. In the giant slalom Dixon was 26th.

The Olympic Games are different than World Cup races that continue all season. Athletes just have one chance and need to perform well under pressure. After his gold medal run on Sunday, February 21, in the super combined, American Bode Miller commented on Guay: "I could have just as easily come in here and skied great and gotten fourth place. We've seen Erik Guay, for instance. He has been fifth twice. He was good enough to win both races, he made up time on me, from the second third to the finish in both races. You know it can go either way."

Since Ed Podivinsky of Canada won bronze in downhill at the Lillehammer 1994 Olympic Winter Games, no Canadian man or woman has won an Olympic Games medal in Alpine Skiing. In all, Canadian Men and Women have won 10 Olympic medals in Alpine Skiing, four of them Gold. Austria, by contrast, has won 101 medals.

Between 2006 and 2010, Alpine Canada has received $10.4-million in extra funding via the Own the Podium plan. Extra coaches were hired, Canadian equipment and tuck positions were tested in wind tunnels. Speed suits were re-engineered to be faster. A base-grinding machine was purchased to hone skis. A GPS-based system was developed under the Own the Podium's Top Secret program to tell skiers the optimum line to take down a hill. Canadians had some exclusive training camps at Olympic hills, learning the Dave Murray and Franz's Runs intimately when Whistler was off limits to other teams. Special accommodations were arranged so the team wouldn't have to cope with the distractions of an Olympic Village.

None of it got Canadian skiers any closer to the podium than they were in Turin. Maybe the great Own the Podium plan for success was too much? Too much expectation and pressure to win medals, too many injuries that deprived the team of podium prospects and too much investment in the magic of innovative technology may have been the reasons why Canada's Alpine skiers came up short at home.

Hopefully down the road, the Own the Podium programme, aimed at helping Canada win more medals than any other NOC at the Vancouver Games, will pay off.

"Setting big goals, ambitious goals for the team is a good thing. It's a good way to get Canadians fired up about it. The downside to that is that it does add some pressure to the athletes that are competing," Guay said.

He wondered aloud whether funds should have been allocated differently with less of a focus on technology. "The GPS thing is great in theory, but for a skier to get better, it's pretty simple: all he has to do is ski. The more you ski, the better you get," he said.

Robbie Dixon, who crashed twice on his home hill, believes that having some input from the athletes would be a good thing. "I know there are a lot of people in the office that might think they know what they're doing, but sometimes that's not always the case," he said.

Still Dixon and Guay both lauded the concept of Own the Podium, which gave the team unprecedented resources.

Guay said the program, which ran since 2005, didn't start soon enough to make Canadians dominant in Vancouver. "It doesn't take just four years to create a great team. It takes years and years of support," said Guay, who said he's interested in skiing through to the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.

Canada's Emily Brydon agreed with Guay that heavy investment has to continue in skiing with money extended down into the grass roots of the sport.

FISalpine.com
Sunday 28 February 2010


 
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Next:
Justyna Kowalczyk won 30 km Classic Mass Start – 27 February 2010 - 23:54
Razzoli gets Italy its gold – 28 February 2010 - 00:43
Petra Majdic received Terry Fox award – 28 February 2010 - 12:07
Working at the Games – 28 February 2010 - 12:19
Closing Ceremony on Day 17 of the XXI Winter Olympics 2010 in Vancouver – 28 February 2010 - 12:21

Previous:
Riesch finishes Games with double the gold – 27 February 2010 - 00:23
Grishin Wins Aerials Gold – 26 February 2010 - 12:12
Splendid double victory of the USA, Bill Demong Olympic champion in Nordic combined – 26 February 2010 - 11:56
Marit Bjoergen win three Gold medals at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games – 26 February 2010 - 11:55
Rebensburg takes surprise giant slalom gold – 25 February 2010 - 20:38

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