Compromise Reached on Olympic Course
Tuesday, December 2, 1997

Though there has been no official comment, a compromise has allegedly been reached in the more than five-year battle between Japanese officials and the governing body of skiing over the length of the men's Olympic downhill course in Nagano, Japan.

On Monday, the NAOC (Nagano Olympic Organizing Committee) allegedly agreed to lengthen the downhill course by 279 feet to 5,791 feet. The International Ski Federation (FIS) has been demanding the course be extended to 5,906 feet. FIS had contended the existing course was too short and not of Olympic caliber. The change would increase the race times by 15 to 20 seconds.

The NAOC has, until now, remained steadfast in its refusal to lengthen the course as the new starting point would encroach on national park land, thus breaking Japanese law.

FIS had not accepted this argument because recreational skiing has all along been allowed in the area and it says the new start would border, not be in, the park land. Last month, the NAOC responded by proposing a ban on the recreational skiing. This "Band-Aid" response to the debate caused FIS president Marc Hodler to threaten to remove all disciplines of skiing from the February Nagano Games.

Though no official will go on record, Mountain Zone sources report the International Olympic Committee applauds the agreement. -- Sarah Love, Mountain Zone Staff

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