Mon, Jan 19, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Cottrer triumphs in cross-country at Whistler Park

AP AND AFP , WHISTLER, CANADA, WENGEN, SWITZERLAND AND ZAKOPANE, POLAND

A ski jumper flies above the mountains of the Callaghan valley at the Whistler Olympic Park in Whistler, Canada, on Saturday.

PHOTO: EPA

Italy’s Pietro Piller Cottrer won a men’s cross-country World Cup on Saturday on the venue that will host the 2010 Winter Olympics and then said it’s a shame organizers didn’t build a better course.

Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk, who won the women’s 15km pursuit, was also critical of the Whistler Olympic Park course.

Cottrer completed the race at Whistler Olympic Park in 1 hour, 13 minutes, 1.5 seconds. France’s Jean Marc Gaillard was second in 1:13:16.5, while Valerio Checchi of Italy was third in 1:13:16.8.

Kowalczyk finished in 40:41.30. She was followed by Marianna Longa (40:48.90) and Arianna Follis (41:27.30) of Italy.

The meet, which began on Friday, is the first Olympic test event held at the US$120 million Whistler Olympic Park, located about 20km southwest of Whistler. The facility will host cross-country, ski jumping and biathlon during the Olympics.

Most of the skiers have been complimentary of the games venue.

But following Friday’s sprint race, Kowalczyk said one of the corners on the course was too tight and “very dangerous.” Cottrer, a three-time Olympic medalist, also complained about the corners and said some sections of the course were too easy.

Tim Gayda, vice president of sport for the Vancouver Olympic Games Organizing Committee, said the course was designed with input from the International Ski Federation.

Meanwhile, Magnus Moan of Norway edged Bjoern Kircheisen of Germany and Bill Demong of the US to win a Nordic Combined individual event at Whistler Olympic Park on Saturday.

Moan won in 25 minutes, 18.7 seconds, while Kircheisen and Demong crossed in a photo finish, with the German finishing 0.1 seconds ahead of the American in 25:19.1.

Koivuranta of Finland, who leads the World Cup standings with 773 points, was first after the ski jump with a leap of 140m, but fell behind in the last 800m of the cross-country race to finish fourth.

Moan was second in the standings with 701 points, while Demong was third with 675.

Also, Gregor Schlierenzauer claimed his fifth World Cup ski jump victory of the season on Saturday and the seventh in a row for his country.

Schlierenzauer had jumps of 130.5 and 138.5 meters for a total of 285.7 points on the second day of competition in Zakopane, Poland.

And Swiss skier Didier Defago won the men’s World Cup downhill on Saturday to record his second career victory but first in six years.

The 31-year-old Defago beat home American duo Bode Miller — winner here on the longest course in the series in 2007 and last year — and Marco Sullivan by 20 hundredths and 39 hundredths of a second respectively.

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