KITZBUEHEL, Austria (AP) — Christof Innerhofer has been given the unfavorable start position of 46th for Saturday's World Cup downhill as a punishment by the international ski federation.
The Italian skier neglected a yellow flag — a stop signal from the jury — after he lost a ski and fell in Thursday's training. Innerhofer clicked his ski back on and completed his run, ignoring a jury member who told him to slide down along the race course.
FIS race director Guenter Hujara called the Italian's breach of rules "very serious." "If the yellow flag is out to stop the athlete, then there is a start-stop," Hujara said. "The athlete can never, never, never continue because he does not know whether below him there are people working in the course."
Starting 46th might drastically reduce Innerhofer's chances in the race on the Streif course. The best downhill racers start between 15th and 22nd. The Italian, who won the Lauberhorn downhill in Wengen last Saturday, has also been fined 999 Swiss Francs ($1,075; €800).
"This is the only sum where the execution of the rule cannot be (appealed)," Hujara said. "We would have gone higher." According to Hujara, Innerhofer was questioned by FIS officials and the Italian told them he wasn't aware of the exact rules.
"No athlete should ever tell the jury that he does not know the rules," Hujara said. Innerhofer, however, said he decided to ski on after receiving confusing advice from jury members. "They gave me the yellow flag and said, you can't go in the gates, but if you do go in the gates, don't go fast," Innerhofer said shortly after his run when he was still unaware of his punishment.
"What must I do? The one guy said this, the other guy said that." Innerhofer said he was frustrated after his ski came off and that he wanted to complete his run to be able to test a different race line.
"Today I was going to try two special parts where I was not doing good in the first and the second training," he said. "So I was a little bit sorry that I could not try that."