SBD/February 4, 2014/Olympics

Sochi Officials Consider Changes To Slopestyle Course After Snowboarder's Injury

Officials said they would modify the slopestyle course to make it safer
Sochi Olympics officials yesterday scrambled to "make changes to the slopestyle course" after Norwegian snowboarder Torstein Horgmo "broke his collarbone in a crash, and several athletes raised concerns about the safety of the course," according to the N.Y. TIMES. Horgmo "crashed on the rail portion of the course." Snowboarders yesterday discussed the course’s safety after a three-hour training session and "proposed changes to the sport’s officials." U.S. snowboarder Charles Guldemond said, “The last jump has a lot of impact on it, and the takeoff is really long. Some of the guys and girls are intimidated. I felt like I was dropping out of the sky.” Assistant Snowboard Race Dir Roberto Moresi said that officials "would modify the course to make it safer" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/4). U.S. snowboarder Ryan Stassel said, "The course was just built, so they're kind of working out the kinks and everything" ("Today," NBC, 2/4). But REUTERS' Philip O'Connor notes Int'l Ski Federation organizers blamed Horgmo's injury "on the jump he was attempting rather than the course." Moresi: "He was just trying a really hard trick" (REUTERS, 2/3). Meanwhile, SI.com's Brian Cazeneuve noted at least one Olympic venue "appears to be safer than usual." Perhaps "owing to the tragic crash that took the life of Georgian luger Nodar Komaritashvili at the Vancouver Games, officials in Sochi have designed a sliding course that has a number of safety points built into it." U.S. bobsledder Steven Holcomb said, "There are three uphill parts which will slow things down and make crashes less likely" (SI.com, 2/3).

HERE COMES THE SUN: In L.A., David Wharton notes storms over the last seven days have "blanketed the nearby Caucasus mountain range where skiing, snowboarding and sliding events will take place." Still, the region "has a history of warm spells that can arrive overnight." U.S. skier Ted Ligety: "It's obviously a concern. It's something we're going to have to deal with when we get there." Wharton notes weather "should not be a concern for the skaters, curlers and hockey players competing in five venues that make up the 'coastal cluster.'" The mountains are "far more vulnerable." If "all else fails, organizers have stored 710,000 cubic meters of last winter's snowfall under immense thermal blankets, keeping the mounds cool and largely intact over the summer." Those reserves "might come in handy at a low-elevation ski jumping site that Sochi officials claim is the warmest in Winter Games history" (L.A. TIMES, 2/4).

MOVING MOUNTAINS: In Winnipeg, Ted Wyman noted the Krasnaya Polyana area is "home to the Russki Gorki Ski Jumping Center, the Laura Endurance Village, where the cross country skiing and biathlon events will be held, the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park and Rosa Khutor Alpine Center and the Sanki Sliding Centre, where luge, bobsleigh and skeleton events will be held." But the "picturesque, Banff-like village, which has seemingly been built almost entirely for these Olympics, doesn’t seem quite ready for action." A mall built in the center of town has "yet to open" as of this past weekend, and the "same goes for a bank and a Subway sandwich shop." Workers were "still pouring cement in some locations and jack-hammering in others, no doubt the kind of finishing touches often applied at the last minute before such a massive undertaking" (WINNIPEG SUN, 2/2).

BREAKING THE BANK? In L.A., Wharton & Loiko noted the budget for Fisht Stadium, where the Opening Ceremony will be held Friday, "could reach" $700M. That would "be 14 times higher than originally estimated and 2.5 times more expensive than similar stadiums around the world." The cost of the Adler Arena Skating Center for long-track speedskating has risen to $226.3M, an "estimated 2.4 times higher than the going rate." Meanwhile, the Sanki Sliding Center "could cost as much" as $76.5M, making it "1.6 times more expensive than comparable facilities" (L.A. TIMES, 2/3).
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