Sacred trees line the route to Olympic downhill gold medal

Probably the most prized Olympic titles in Alpine snowboarding might be gained this month on downhill programs raced solely as soon as earlier than, and lined with timber which are sacred as symbols of fertility.

Solely after the South Korean area was picked as host in 2011 have been the extensive velocity tracks in Jeongseon minimize by means of the forest. The mountain is now a pure competitors venue for the Pyeongchang Video games slightly than a hub for ski tourism.

The perfect downhillers have every had just one World Cup race – in February 2016 for the lads, final March for the ladies – to completely check the jumps and terrain in chilly air sweeping down from Siberia.

”I feel it’s very distinctive,” stated 2010 Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn, who was runner-up within the ladies’s check race. ”There are lots of parts on the Olympic monitor that aren’t on any World Cup (course).”

All of the Olympic velocity races might be run in Jeongseon, with apply runs beginning Thursday for the lads’s downhill race on Sunday. The ladies race on Feb. 21. They’ll take totally different routes right down to a standard end space at an altitude of solely 545 meters (1,788 ft).

Two separate downhill programs had been deliberate by veteran designer Bernhard Russi, the 1972 Sapporo Olympic champion. He modified course to guard extra of the holy timber.

The lads’s course begins at larger altitude – 1,370 meters (four,495 ft), in comparison with 1,275 meters (four,183 ft) for the ladies.

It has ”a little bit of the whole lot,” stated Beat Feuz, the lads’s world champion who, like Vonn, arrived in South Korea as favourite to take gold.

”It’s not extraordinarily steep. It has huge jumps. It has technical sections. And it additionally has gliding elements,” added the Swiss racer, who was fifth two years in the past within the males’s check race behind winner Kjetil Jansrud of Norway.

A properly-balanced course on unfamiliar terrain – it’s now the norm to determine Olympic gold in a marquee occasion with a practice of shock winners.

On the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the Rosa Khutor downhill was additionally created for the video games with a single World Cup gown rehearsal. Then, Matthias Mayer of Austria added to the listing of males, together with American skier Tommy Moe in 1994, whose first profession victory made them Olympic downhill champion.

Mayer is a contender to retain his title on a course in Jeongseon that, at 2.eight kilometers (1.7 miles), is about 600 meters (1/three mile) shorter than the Sochi Olympic course. It ought to take 25 fewer seconds to finish.

”It’s a minute-forty, so it’s a dash,” stated Steven Nyman, the…

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