WHISTLER, British Columbia (Reuters) - The women's downhill course that will be used at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games received rave reviews on Tuesday as skiers got there first look at the Olympic layout.
World Cup veterans and newcomers gave the 2,879-metre Franz's Downhill their stamp of approval following the first of three scheduled training runs ahead of Friday's downhill race that will also serve as an Olympic test event.
"You can say Canada has a really good Olympic downhill," Austrian speed queen Renate Goetschl told reporters. "I have seen Whistler for the first time and I am very impressed.
"I am happy that it is like a downhill because the last Olympic downhills have not been so attractive for us. Canada can be happy to have this downhill.
"It's really unique. Every downhill is unique but this one is really special. There's everything in there."
With 24 downhill victories among her 46 career World Cup wins, Goetschl's evaluation carries added weight but the former overall World Cup champion was not alone in her praise.
"It's a very worthy Olympic course," said Sweden's Anja Paerson, a two-time overall World Cup champion and downhill bronze medalist at the 2006 Turin Games.
"Maybe it would have been nice to have a little speedier section at some part but you can't have everything.
"I think for sure you're going to have the best downhill skier winning this race and you are going to feel like it will be a really worthy Olympic winner."
The women's downhill will be just one of four Olympic test events to be staged on Whistler mountain this week.
The men will get their first look at the Dave Murray downhill course on Thursday when they run a super-G which will be followed by the women's downhill on Friday, a men's giant slalom on Saturday and a women's super-combined on Sunday.
It will be critical week for Olympic preparations as 160 skiers from 20 countries get their one and only look at the Winter Games layouts with no other test events scheduled for the Olympic venue.
The Vancouver Olympic Organising Committee (VANOC) has budgeted $27.6 million to upgrade the layouts transforming them into some of the most technical and demanding on the World Cup schedule.
"It's technical...it really has everything you could ever want in a downhill," said American Lindsey Vonn, the current World Cup downhill leader who topped Tuesday's training times.
"I think it will suit me pretty well, you never know what could happen in two years, but right now at least for today, I had a lot of fun and hopefully it stays the same for the Olympics."
Editing by Miles Evans