- Freestyle Skiing
Freeskiers give first-ever Olympic slopestyle course big, icy thumbs up
Day two of training on the Olympic slopestyle course allowed for a few kinks to get worked out, but the consensus from the freeskiers is that there is still more grooming to be done.
It appears that the course is giving snowboarders more trouble than the skiers after top Norwegian rider Torstein Horgmo broke his collarbone and pulled out of competition on Monday and high-profile American Shaun White jammed his wrist on the course Tuesday. Nevertheless, the skiers are confirming the intimidation factor is real, but not necessarily enough to slow them down just yet.
“I don’t think it is too dangerous. It’s really big, that’s for sure,” said American Joss Christensen following his day of practice. “The one problem I’m having is the ice because it’s all man-made snow. They are having a bit of problems, but the park crew is doing a pretty good job. They are going to work the kinks out. I’m hoping through the next nine days before we compete that it warms up and get’s a little softer. I think that would be a good show if we are all a little more comfortable.”
Embedded owg_slideshow: Training day: freeski slopestyle
There is no doubt that the Russian course is a monster, but overall it seems the skiers are up for the challenge and are looking for ways to have fun up top before getting down to serious business on the jumps at the bottom.
“This is probably the biggest course we’ve had all year,” says the always-energetic Devin Logan. “They actually cut down the takeoffs a little bit. But yeah, I like the course. It’s good.”
Some skiers actually seemed pumped on the size of the jumps such as the Swedish big hair and even bigger air booster Henrik Harlaut.
“The [jumps] are big, but they are nice! I’m not sure what it is going to be, but I’m sure people are going to go wild as always,” says Harlaut, who is always smiling regardless of the conditions. “All of the rails are fun and there are a lot of different opportunities to do some cool stuff, so I like them.”
Back-to-back X Games slopestyle champion and the slopestyle favorite Nick Goepper had a few concerns with the course, but it didn’t seem to be enough to bring him down off his high from last week’s win at X Games.
“The course is a little rough, but it’s fun. It’s a little high impact on the jumps because they are big step-downs, but overall it’s pretty sweet. It is just different. The rails are interesting, they are a little bit hard to do tricks on, but I think we just have to make do. I’m feeling confident. We’ve had more training than ever, so I think you will see some sick runs in the qualifiers and finals.”
Embedded video_content_type: Science of Winter Sports: Nick Goepper & the physics of slopestyle skiing
As many will note, Goepper will be competing without holding any ski poles due a screw in his hand following a surgery after he broke it this past summer while training in New Zealand.
When asked about his hand and how the screw in was holding up Goepper replied, “The hand’s good. The screw will probably come out next year.”
With X Games taking place just the weekend before the Sochi Games are underway there is likely some added pressure on the skiers, as new ground was broken in competition in the form of the triple cork.
“Last week at X Games people did the first triple [corks] in a slopestyle contest and these jumps are certainly big enough,” says American Gus Kenworthy who was spotted with his usual big smile following his day of practice. “I think the stakes are well worth it, but it is kind of icy so no one is doing that yet. I could definitely predict that someone will do that.”
Americans Joss Christensen and Gus Kenworthy at the bottom of the slopestyle course on day two of training.
Regardless of where the course is right now there is still plenty of time for fine-tuning. And despite what was coming out of the mouths of the riders, the grinning grimaces from each seemed to speak loudly to the fact that they are still having fun ushering their sport onto the world’s stage for the inaugural Olympic slopestyle event.
“We want to have a good time out here and show the world how much fun it is to do what we do,” says Christensen.
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