Successful first SBX training at Sochi
Today brought the first of two official snowboard cross trainings at the XII Olympic Winter Games at Sochi with the world's best riders actually tackling the course for the first time before entering the competitions on Feb 16 (ladies) and 17 (men).
Bluebird and sunny conditions provided incredibly good conditions for the athletes although facing pretty warm temperatures again.
As a result, the overall impression was fine with the snowboarders enjoying their time in the office.
“They did a really great job because they had the time to build our venue quite a bit before,” said Alex Deibold (USA), who aims to repeat his last year result at the Sochi test event World Cup when he finished in second position.
“The course is firm. There's one point where it's really soft and slushy, which is the part they built last night. But other than that, the course is great and the features all run real well. It's a whole lot of fun.”
Australia's reigning World Champion Alex Pullin, who had a tough season so far with several set-backs due to injuries, added:
“It's a bit soft; you can tell they've been preparing it. The visibility is good, although early in the morning the sun's angle makes it difficult to see at some points.
It's a really fast course. It's a matter of timing on the moves and getting them right.”
Last year's Sochi World Cup winner Alessandro Haemmerle from Austria explained that “it's great to ride, it's fast. There are huge jumps. For a first day of training, it's tip-top. I can't complain.”
However, the young gun has to handle some other issues too.
The 20-year-old is riding with two broken bones in the middle of his foot and thus has to manage some pain during the runs.
Which is also the truth for his team Markus Schairer, who is finally ready for full competition after his shoulder injury suffered in the Lake Louise World Cup end of last year.
“I had surgery on my shoulder six weeks ago. This is my first race back. I've not had much competition practice this year.”
But nevertheless, the powerhouse who had clinched the 2009 World Champs and took home Silver in 2013 sees a progression for him and the course.
“Slowly it's getting towards perfect but it's never perfect. I'm very pleased with it. It's fun and there's enough room for six [riders at a time]. That's not always self-evident.”