Downhill race at Olympic venue goes ahead
The ski slopes for the 2014 Olympics got a cautious thumbs-up
after the first international test event Friday, though a second
competition had to be canceled due to the threat of avalanche after
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who attended the downhill
competition with President Dmitry Medvedev, insisted the course was
as good as those in the Alps.
”I asked the guys about it today and they say that in
comparison with Austria, Switzerland it’s excellent,” Putin said,
referring to race competitors. ”The specialists say it’s one of
the best slopes in the world.”
International skiers and ski officials involved in a stage of
the second-tier European Cup at the Rosa Khutor resort praised the
men’s downhill run, noting the course was wide and safe, but said
it currently lacked more technically challenging elements. That was
due in part to the closure of the run’s upper echelons, which had
accumulated snowdrifts of up to 3 meters in places, said
international ski federation race director Markus Waldner.
”It was crazy. … The upper part, the most difficult
technically, we could not test, because it was closed because of
this avalanche problem,” he said, adding the dangerous conditions
ruled out the scheduled super-giant slalom event.
He said Russian ski officials needed to consult with
international experts on improving the course’s avalanche
”That’s I think the main issue for the preparations for the
World Cup,” he said, adding that Sochi would host the top-tier
event next February.
The winner of Friday’s men’s downhill, Manuel Kramer of Austria,
told The Associated Press, that ”the general feeling we have is
that the slope is very good,” but added the snow was a little too
soft for perfect racing conditions.
”The slope is not too technical, but there’s good gliding,” he
Kristian Haug of Norway, who finished 42nd, said the width of
the run took out the fear element that squeezes top results out of
the top athletes.
”You feel a little bit safer when you ski here compared to the
European slopes, which are really narrow in places and you have
fences and trees passing by a meter away. … When we will start
from the top it’s going to be really good.”
Waldner said Russian technical staff who looked after the course
worked exhaustively to get it ready in time, but lamented the
overly lavish breakfasts that Russian caterers offered to the
”We don’t ask (for) caviar and champagne, we need a sports menu
like spaghetti and macaroni, he said. ”We just need carbohydrates
and a piece of meat and we’re happy.”
Sochi, a year-round resort on Russia’s Black Sea coast, is about
40 percent through the building work needed to construct all
Olympic facilities from scratch. This year is slated to be the most
work-intensive in the run-up to 2014, with constructors targeting
70 percent by year-end.