Olympics-Alpine skiing-Downhill jumps on the limit for Svindal


By Alan Baldwin

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia, Feb 7 (Reuters) - The spectacular jumps on the Olympic men's downhill course are right on the limit and changes may have to be made if skiers fly much further, 2010 silver medallist Aksel Lund Svindal said after training on Friday.

"They definitely increased, let's say 10 to 15 metres I think from yesterday to today," the Norwegian downhill world champion told reporters after his second official session on the mountain.

"I think today is the limit. They can't get any longer. (France's) Adrien Theaux is not a bad skier and he's super-athletic and he almost stumped out twice. He landed on his ass," he added.

"That's probably as far as we should go on this course."

The fastest time, set by Austrian Matthias Mayer, of two minutes 06.51 seconds, was more than a second faster than American Bode Miller's Thursday best - with most still holding something in reserve - and skiers reported the track was icier.

Early morning temperatures were lower than Thursday and American Steven Nyman said the middle section below the 'Russian trampoline' was daunting.

"It turns to sheer ice down that face," he said. "I'm landing on a vertical ice rink. It's pretty slick that whole middle section."

The 3,495 metre long piste has won plaudits from skiers for its characteristics and preparation, with all hailing it as a real challenge sure to produce a worthy Olympic champion.

The jumps are some of the biggest seen in a Winter Olympic Alpine competition, with the Lake Jump and subsequent Deer Jump before the finish providing a huge leap for skiers with tiring legs.

Some had voiced concern about them when a World Cup race was held on the piste in 2012 and although modifications have been made since then, American Bode Miller said the organisers had not 'dumbed it down'.

Svindal, equal third fastest on Friday, hoped the course would not need any tweaks.

"I don't necessarily see it happening because I think they want it to be dramatic, but if we keep going like we do now, longer and longer, I think they have to eventually," he said.

"Some guys were really close to crashing today. And if people start crashing, like more guys in a row, they will have to do something."

One more training run is scheduled on Saturday before Sunday's showcase event.

Canada's Erik Guay, the 2011 downhill champion, agreed the jumps were a bit bigger and the course faster but appeared unconcerned.

Neither was Switzerland's reigning Olympic champion Didier Defago.

"The Trampoline jump is about the same as two years ago," he said. "But the finish jump and the Lake Jump are a little better. They are nice. I think this year we go a little higher."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Julian linden)

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