February 13, 2006

Alpine skiing-Montillet gold defense in doubt

By Clare Fallon

SAN SICARIO, Italy (Reuters) - Defending Olympic downhill
champion Carole Montillet-Carles, U.S. medal hopeful Lindsey
Kildow and Canadian racer Allison Forsyth were all taken to
hospital after crashing in Winter Games training on Monday.

Montillet's defense of her title is now in doubt, French
team technical director Gerard Rougier said.

Asked if Montillet would race on Wednesday, Rougier told
Reuters: "It is going to be hard. She is going to have
ultra-sound on her stomach and have her back checked because of
a vertebra problem."

Kildow was flown to hospital in Turin after crashing
awkwardly halfway down the Fraiteve Olympic piste. Team doctors
initially feared that she had suffered a back injury but later
said X-ray examinations had shown no damage.

"The X-rays are normal," said U.S. Olympic Committee
medical director Ed Ryan, who saw Kildow in hospital.

"The decision now is how long she stays in the hospital,"
Ryan said on the U.S. ski team's website. "There's also a
question about whether she banged her head. She is complaining
of back pain, but that's normal. We will evaluate further and
monitor her condition."


Kildow, who won two World Cup downhills in December and had
hoped to earn her first Olympic medal in Wednesday's downhill,
did the splits after losing control halfway down the course.
She tumbled through the air before sliding to a halt.

Montillet, who has not won a World Cup race this season,
veered off course as she came off a jump just 20 seconds into
the second official training run and crashed heavily into
safety netting.

Onlookers rushed to her aid and she was taken down the
course on a stretcher and transferred to the clinic at the
athletes' village in nearby Sestriere.

Forsyth, a giant slalom specialist who won a world
championship bronze medal in 2003, was taken to the same
hospital as Kildow. Team sources said she had damaged knee
ligaments and would remain in hospital.

Alpine ski organisers have redesigned the Fraiteve course
to make it more difficult after racers complained last year at
a World Cup event that it was not challenging enough.

At just over 3km, the course is the longest on the women's
circuit. The women have one more scheduled training run, on
Tuesday, before the race.

(Additional reporting by Alan Baldwin, Manuele Lang and
Julien Pretot)