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Rosener a Surprise in Training Run, but Complaining Austrians Aren't

February 06, 1998|CHRIS DUFRESNE

HAKUBA, Japan — The surprise was not that the Austrian men had six of the top 10 finishers in Friday's second downhill training run.

The Austrian men could well sweep Sunday's Olympic downhill (Saturday evening in the U.S.) on the Happo'one course.

The shocker was that American Jason Rosener, a first-time Olympian who won't turn 23 until Feb. 12, finished 10th with a time of 1 minute 53.59. Rosener's run was 1.29 seconds slower than training-run leader Didier Cuche of Switzerland, not bad considering Cuche had the fourth starting position while Rosener wore bib No. 34.

Rosener actually missed a gate at the top of the course, which would have disqualified him in a real race, but was nonetheless thrilled at his showing.

"I'm excited," said Rosener, from Breckenridge, Colo. "Just to be part of the Olympics is amazing in itself. It's a great experience."

Rosener was also not reluctant to take a shot at the always-complaining Austrian men's team.

Although the Austrians dominated the training run, some of them were heard grumbling that the course was too easy.

"That's just the Austrians," Rosener said. "They're always looking for something to complain about because they never perform well at the Olympics."

American AJ Kitt, who figured to be a nonfactor in his fourth Olympics, had a solid 12th-place finish, and defending Olympic downhill champion Tommy Moe was 26th.

Kyle Rasmussen missed the training run because of a bad back but was expected to return for Saturday's final practice run.

However, forecasters predict heavy snow is likely when the men's downhill takes place.

Operation managers at the skiing venue said they had drawn up alternative schedules in the event of bad weather, including postponing the race or starting from a lower point in the course.

*

The vaunted Austrians have no reason to fear the underdog Americans in Nagano, but that didn't stop them from complaining that the U.S. contingent, along with the Swiss, were tardy in turning in their Olympic entry forms for the downhill competition.

"The Austrians did protest it," United States Ski and Snowboard Assn. spokesman Tom Kelly said here Friday. "But it didn't turn out to be a significant point."

Kelly said the U.S. team turned in the forms on time, but that the processing was delayed by the Nagano Organizing Committee.

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