Yesterday evening, the FIS released plans for the proposed slopestyle course at next February's winter Olympics in Sochi.
The course, which is 635m in length, with a vertical drop of 151m, features three jib sections followed by three kickers of increasing size. Each appears to have its own baby sister kicker alongside, which seems a little bizarre seeing as the best female riders have been killing it on the same kickers as the guys for the last few seasons now...
The actual size and shape of the kickers themselves can be seen in the schematic below. Oddly there's no diagram for 'table 4' (presumably the second of the three kickers), but the final kicker looks to be a significant step up in size from the first. The real question is, will it provide enough airtime for riders to safely chuck the triple corks that so many of them have been rushing to learn in the run up to Sochi 2014?
The course will be built in Rosa Khutor, a resort close to Sochi that will also host some of the alpine racing events, and was a collaborative design effort between Anders Forsell (FIS Technical Advisor for slopestyle who has developed many previous courses for the FIS World Cup and World Championship), Roberto Moresi (FIS Snowboard Coordinator for Freestyle Events) and Davide Cerato (an expert in the field working for the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee).
Moresi's take on how the design came about sounds somewhat encouraging - at least they've been talking to some actual snowboarders:
A team of experts worked with several groups in many meetings, and of course riders and skiers exchanged thoughts and ideas for what would work best to have spectacular events. We surveyed the best slopestyle courses, jumps rails sessions around the world collecting athlete’s comments and developed the final design that will provide a good flow and include a variable and creative jib section
However, details of who will be actually building the course - the Freestyle and Snowboard staff of the Russian Federation along with the support of the Rosa Khutor staff - has us a little more sceptical. This season's World Cup events have been riddled with complaints from riders that the shape and safety of the jumps simply hasn't been up to scratch.
FIS also mention in their press release that "an international field of expert groomers have been contracted specifically to build the different features" which seems to contradict their first statement somewhat. Could they honestly not just contract SPT to build it?
The other grave concern surrounding the event is whether the weather will be cold and snowy enough to actually allow this course to be built. You may remember that the slopestyle test event that was supposed to happen this past February had to be cancelled due to warm, rainy weather and a lack of snow...
Either way, if this course can be executed to a decent standard by the time February rolls around, we should be in for a good show - let's just hope they get a new filmer/editor before then eh?