High Marks for PyeongChang 2018 Slopestyle and Cross Courses

(ATR) Freestyle skiers and snowboarders rate the future 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic courses as top notch.

(ATR) Freestyle skiers and snowboarders rate the future 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic courses at the Bokwang Phoenix Park as top notch. Competitors said they were fun, creatively designed and provided for strategic competitions.

World Cup s

Eight events were contested at the future Olympic venue during two sessions of FIS World Cup events, which doubled as Olympic test events.

Skiers and boarders raced shoulder-to-shoulder descending cross courses, navigating banked turns, rolls, jumps and other terrain features, Feb. 25-28. During the first session of the test event, Feb. 18-21, competitors threw tricks, while riding rails and launching skyward off giant kickers comprising the new slopestyle course.

"It was a pretty good stress test for the organizing committee and also the relationships between the Korean Ski Association and POCOG," said FIS freestyle skiing events coordinator Joe Fitzgerald.

"I think we along with the (course) design firms pretty much hit a homerun," Fitzgerald said noting that athlete feedback was positive.

The future Olympic freestyle skiing and snowboard courses, which are located at the Bokwang Phoenix Park resort approximately 30-kilometers from the Alpensia mountain cluster village, were only completed in November 2015.

U.S. snowboard veteran Nate Holland, 37, won the snowboardcross event, noting that the future Olympic course is big, with ample passing opportunities.

"This venue kicks a**," Holland said. "The slope is perfect, the jumps were big and there are some tactics and strategy involved. I like courses that are big and wide open with strategy—it makes you think a little more versus a whole-shot scenario. And I’m stoked to see that this hill has the DNA of tactics, big jumps and fast speeds."

Holland’s U.S. teammate Nick Baumgartner, who finished third, talked up the overall experience in PyeongChang.

"Korea is awesome – It’s so cool, everyone’s so stoked to see us, everyone’s so pumped," Baumgartner said. "I like to feed off that energy."

French snowboarder Chloe Trespeuch, the 2014 Olympic bronze medalist, won the ladies snowboardcross event, nabbing her first World Cup victory.

"The course was very fun and there was a lot of action going on," Trespeuch said. "It was amazing."

Freestyle skiers raced down parts of the same 1,300-meter cross course. To ensure that the course caters to the needs of both skiers and snowboarders, the course splits after about 20% of the slope with the snowboarders taking another route, and then rejoining the skiers after about 60% with the two disciplines sharing a common finish area.

Bastien Midol of France and Andrea Limbacher of Austria won the men’s and women’s events ski cross events.

The Whistler, Canada-based company Ecosign designed and built the cross courses.

"The cross course was a so-called big course with lots of large features and big jumps," Fitzgerald said. "It took a little bit of time to ensure that that course worked out since we have some 15 to 20% differences in speed between the male skiers and the female snowboarders.

"We also had some weather to deal with, which was a good test for both the course and the organizers because they had to do lots of special preparations to clean everything up," said the Canadian freestyle events chief.

The 617-meter slopestyle course featured three jumps and three rails. The course was designed by German course builders Schneestern, famous for their terrain parks at Montafon, the Stubai Glacier and various other locations across Europe.

"We wanted to make sure that we presented some new things in slopestyle, which was very well achieved by the design company who created extremely innovative features on the course and some that I've actually never been seen before," Fitzgerald said.

Swiss team head coach J-P Furrer said the innovative design will propel the event to new heights.

"This slopestyle course is unreal," Furrer said. "There are so many options and transitions. There will be so many different runs thanks to the course design, which has made slopestyle cool again."

A better than expected crowd attended the events cheering for the skiers and boarders as "Hello PyeongChang!" boards and banners adorned the venue.

Fitzgerald said that appropriate modifications will be made and the courses will be improved in the lead-up to February 2018.

"There are some takeaways and some refinements that the design company has noted along with us and also with feedback from the coaches and the teams and this will be built into with course coming into the Olympics in 2018."

Written by Brian Pinelli

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