Alpine skiers say steep Yanqing downhill presents challenge

Posted at 11:59 AM, Feb 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-02 21:21:01-05

BEIJING, Feb 2 - Veteran Italian downhiller Christof Innerhoferand Austrian two-time Olympic champion Matthias Meyer say the steep slopes course for the Olympic downhill present a tough challenge for the world's best.

None of the skiers battling for gold in the races have ever taken on the slopes of the course.

The pandemic meant that planned pre-Olympic test events were cancelled and skiers arriving ahead of the first downhill training session are taking their initial look at the venue.

"At first glance it seemed to me a different track from World Cup ones," Innerhofer said in comments reported by Gazzetta dello Sport.

"On a scale between 0 and 10 I would say that the difficulty of the descent is 7," added the downhill silver medallist from Sochi in 2014.

The course is made up entirely of artificial snow and is set in hills without any natural snow in sight

Innerhofer said that while the course does not feature any major big jumps it has "several bumps" similar to the Olympic course four years ago at Pyeongchang in South Korea.

The Italian said that overall the Yanqing course, which has been designed by Swiss expert Bernhard Russi, should present more of a challenge than that offered in 2018.

SEE MORE: Alpine Skiing at the 2022 Winter Olympics

Italy's downhill coach Alberto Ghidoni warned that wind could be a disruptive factor and said the slopes certainly posed a challenge.

"It is not easy, they are very steep slopes," he said, "They are not exactly tourist slopes even if they want to use them (later) to teach people to ski here," he added.

"In addition to the wind, another factor to consider will be that of the skis. The first day the bottom seemed a bit 'dirty', as if there was sand in the snow, so the edge of the skis is at risk."

Meyer also believes that the course won't be an easy one for the speed specialists to negotiate.

"It's as expected, the snow reminds me of North America. The terrain looks good, relatively steep, it should be challenging," he said.

The male downhillers will have three days of practice on the slopes before the opening medal event.

The women begin a day later on the technical slope with the giant slalom.