Pyeongchang Olympic Test Event

Words & Photos // Jenny Bletcher

With two years to go until South Korea hosts the Winter Olympics, this February the Pyeongchang Olympic Committee received winter athletes from around the globe to compete in a series of 28 different Olympic test events. For the GB Park & Pipe athletes present, it was a chance to grab a sneak preview of what 2018’s Olympic slopestyle course might look like.

By all accounts, Sochi’s slopestyle course was pretty gnarly; so naturally the team were intrigued as to how Pyeongchang are planning to throw some added bangers into the mix. Interestingly, whilst Russia went all out with their sizeable kickers, South Korea haven’t gone quite as big, instead choosing to get a little more creative. There’s the standard thrre jumps/three rails, but the kickers are a choice of side hits, twisted take offs or standard kickers measuring at between 21 and 23 metres, though these are step ups compared to Sochi’s standard booters.. We’re left discussing whether they’re thinking a side-on double cork would beat a straight kicker triple, and if what we’re looking at now will even resemble the course in 2018.

The jumps everyone will be talking about

In Katie Ormerod’s words: “They are definitely very different to normal jumps! I’m excited to find out what tricks I will be able to do on them, but it’s really nice to have some creative features to hit in a Slopestyle course for a change.”

In contrast to two years ago, when some of the riders united in a front to push for changes to the huge Sochi slopestyle course, so far the feedback seems pretty positive. Jamie Nicholls said, on the rail features: “I’m not worried about the rails, even though they are quite different and creative compared to the stuff you normally find in a comp course, the lines flow really well and there’s loads of options. I would say they’re possibly bigger than the rails at Sochi, but they’re really fun.”

“Whilst Russia went all out with their sizeable kickers, South Korea haven’t gone quite as big, instead choosing to get a little more creative”

Despite the icy conditions, the riders seemed pretty comfortable with the test event course. With the Laax Open – where some non-standard features proved tricky for some – and now this, it looks like they’d better spend the next couple of years getting plenty of practice at riding transitions.

Jamie Nicholls gives the kickers some scale. So, they’re about six foot high then?

“There’s now the prospect of two years of intensive training on transitioned jumps”

Jack Shackleton, Team GB’s assistant coach, gave his thoughts on what the judges will be looking for in the coming World Cup: “Basically, high risk, well executed tricks, with clean landings dealt with like a boss! Side hits have begun to feature more in recent slopestyle courses, but this is the first time we have seen them in this style. This will be a first for the riders to hit them like this in competition. If it goes down well, it’s possible we will see them in 2018. It’s a new concept, so it’s hard to tell at this stage. Consult the crystal ball!”

After a day of training, Billy Morgan, Aimee Fuller, Katie Ormerod and Jamie Nicholls all seem to be finding their feet. Generally, GB Park & Pipe’s snowboarders seem pretty excited to hit the course and there was a definite feeling of awe at the vast surroundings around this somewhat man-made snow resort. It was looking pretty incredible, especially considering there’s still two years to go until slopestyle’s second appearance at the Olympics.

That said, although many here are embracing the experience, our guess is still as good as anyone’s for what the final course design in 2018 will be!

The, uh, majestic finish line
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