Wednesday, April 23, 2014
By Pat Graham
The Associated Press
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — The blind draw for the men’s Olympic downhill race hit a snag Saturday.
Using numbered miniature Russian dolls drawn from a pot, officials placed American skier Marco Sullivan at No. 11 for Sunday’s race. Fine enough, but Peter Fill of Italy was already put into that position.
From back in the crowded room at the team captains’ meeting, U.S. men’s coach Sasha Rearick immediately called for a redraw, which was granted.
Many of the top racers, who already were scheduled to receive the prime slots between No. 8 and 22, stayed virtually the same. American favorite Bode Miller went from No. 12 to 15, while Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway moved from 21 to 18. Steven Nyman of the U.S. drew the No. 1 spot after Jan Hudec of Canada initially had it.
Nyman and American teammate Travis Ganong, now at No. 7, will now be able to radio up course reports to coaches at the start house with Miller, information that could prove beneficial. Miller missed gold by nine-hundredths of a second at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Men’s race director Guenter Hujara tried to downplay the bungled bib draw, saying “that stuff happens.”
“If you want to create a scandal, I must laugh about it,” he said. “Nobody is perfect. This was a human error. It’s all corrected. It’s all within the rules.”
Some of the coaches said they couldn’t really recall something like this happening, especially on this big of a stage. The redraw definitely affected the position of Canada’s Manny Osborne-Paradis, who fell from No. 4 – a solid start position – all the way to 28th.
Martin Rufener, the Alpine director for Canada, said he tried to voice his objection about starting over, but didn’t respond in time. He wanted the situation to be fixed at the spot where the mix-up occurred, not start again from scratch.
“What can you do?” Rufener said. “It’s happened and they decided to redraw. That’s it.”