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Canada rejects criticism of course

By David Ljunggren

WHISTLER (Reuters) - Canadian race organizers dismissed German criticism of their Olympic cross-country course on Sunday, saying the trails had held up well despite bad weather conditions.

Leading German skier Axel Teichmann, who won a silver in the 50 km race, said sarcastically that the course at Whistler Olympic Park was at last decent.

"I guess finally they learned to prepare the tracks pretty good and the last three or four days the tracks became better," he told reporters after the race on Sunday.

"Maybe they should start next time two or three weeks earlier to learn how to prepare tracks for the Olympic Games."

John Aalberg, venue manager at Olympic Park, said the trails had been excellent from the start.

"In British Columbia we have different snow from the rest of the world -- it's wetter. Perhaps he's not used to that. Maybe he's surprised by the snow conditions," he told Reuters.

Teichmann won two silvers and came sixth and 44th in his other two races.

"It couldn't have been that bad for him," said Aalberg.

The 50 km event was marked by several crashes as racers had trouble adapting to the hard snow.

"It was really hard from the start ... it was so hard and you had such a high speed in the corners," said 50 km gold medalist Petter Northug of Norway, who changed his skis a maximum permissible three times.

"When I changed the first time after 15 (km) I had very slippery skis but it was better and better the longer we raced," he told reporters.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)