KITZBUEHEL, Austria (AP) — Aksel Lund Svindal posted the fastest time in the first training session for the classic World Cup downhill on the Streif course in partly foggy conditions Tuesday, and Andrej Jerman suffered a concussion after a crash.
The Norwegian former overall champion, who leads the downhill standings, came down the 3.3-kilometer course in 1 minute, 59.34 seconds to lead Hannes Reichelt of Austria by 0.25. Svindal's teammate, Kjetil Jansrud, was third, 0.66 behind. The rest of the field finished more than a second off the pace.
Jerman, who started 36th after the top downhill racers had completed their run, was thrown off-course and landed in the safety nets. The Slovenian quickly got up and skied on, but interrupted his run shortly afterward as he became unwell.
Jerman was transported by helicopter to a hospital in nearby Innsbruck, where he was diagnosed with "a brain concussion but he has no further injuries," according to race doctor Helmuth Obermoser. "Jerman will undergo further examinations but he feels fine," Obermoser said.
It was not immediately clear whether Jerman was out for the downhill race on Saturday. The Slovenian missed most of last season after breaking his shinbone in a downhill crash in Beaver Creek, Colorado, in November 2011.
One of the most challenging courses on the men's World Cup circuit, the Streif has claimed several victims in recent years. Scott Macartney of the United States in 2008, Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland a year later, and Hans Grugger of Austria in 2011 all sustained severe head injuries following bad crashes.
The training session was interrupted several times as clouds of fog moved over the course. Klaus Kroell, the defending downhill champion, quit his run halfway down the course because of limited visibility.
"I couldn't see a thing anymore. I didn't know where I landed after a jump," the Austrian said. "They should have flagged me, this was too dangerous." Austria men's head coach Mathias Berthold was "disappointed" by the race jury.
"We are lucky that Klaus is such an experienced racer and that he immediately knew he had to stop," Berthold said. "One of the younger guys might have skied on and we don't want to think about what could have happened then."
Chief of race Peter Obernauer acknowledged that Kroell should have been warned by jury member along the course, who can use flags to stop racers if necessary. "The fog moved up and down," Obernauer said. "It went well with all others racers but we should have stopped Kroell."
FIS men's race director Guenter Hujara made an excuse to Berthold during a team captains' meeting. "I apologize for these situations," Hujara said. "Klaus stopped in a very professional way ... Luckily we were not in more trouble."
Due to snowfall overnight, the course had a top layer of soft snow. Some racers considered it would be better to skip the entire training session in order to avoid damage to the course. As temperatures were expected to drop overnight, holes in the soft snow could freeze and make for an extremely bumpy course.
Racers' spokesman Erik Guay of Canada discussed the matter with Hujara. However, the race director did not consider a cancellation. "The jury decided to offer a run," Hujara said. "We were not worried about the condition of the race course, which is excellent. And nothing has happened to the course."
Another training session is scheduled for Wednesday. The races start on Friday with a super-G, followed by the downhill and a slalom the next two days. The added downhill and slalom results also count as a combined race.