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Posted: Feb 17, 10:48p ET | Updated: Feb 19, 1:37p ET

Large hill competition caught in a bind

Coach wants International Ski Federation to investigate

WHISTLER (AP) -- The ski jumping rivalry between Austria and Switzerland intensified Thursday when the Austrian team accused gold medalist Simon Ammann of using improper bindings and threatened to protest if he doesn't change them for the next event.

Swiss ski-jump superstar Simon Ammann wins gold on the normal hill. Here are both of his jumps, including his record-setting leap in the final.

The Austrians told the International Ski Federation that Ammann's bindings are unsafe and improve his aerodynamics in a way that has not been approved.

"They give you an advantage, but it's too dangerous," Austrian team spokesman Raimund Fabi told The Associated Press. "The skier gets flatter in the air, the angle gets flatter. So you can lie better in the air, and therefore you go further."

The Austrians are not challenging the normal hill result, but say they will protest after the first round of the large hill event Saturday if Ammann uses the same gear.

Fabi said a protest can't be filed before the end of the first round, but added that the Austrians could refrain from taking action if Ammann is far behind.

"Maybe a protest won't be necessary," he said. "It depends on the result, maybe an Austrian is already in the lead."

Ammann put down the longest jump in both rounds of the normal hill to beat Austrian favorite Gregor Schlierenzauer, who had to settle for bronze behind Poland's Adam Malysz.

The ski federation's technical committee will examine the bindings and determine if they are acceptable, spokesman Horst Nilgen said.

Gary Furrer, the head of the Swiss team, dismissed the Austrians' complaint and said Ammann has no intention of changing his gear.

"It is clear to me that this protest has no chance," Furrer said. "They are jealous of the top performance of Simon."

The Austrians are a ski jumping power, with five men in the top eight of the World Cup standings. Ammann, however, leads the World Cup and had the longest jump of 143 meters in the first large hill training session Thursday.

If he wins the large hill, Ammann will become the first ski jumper to win four individual gold medals. He swept both events in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

Swiss jumper Andreas Kuettel uses the same kind of bindings, and said he was confident it met regulations.

"It's a modification of everything that is already out there," Kuettel said, adding that the difference is in the back part of the binding, which keeps the boot attached to the ski.

Normal bindings use an elastic strap at the back to keep the boot in place. The modified Swiss version has a curved iron stick, Kuettel said.

"We developed a very simple system and it works," Kuettel said.

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