Safety concerns over Sochi slopestyle course intensify
Published Tuesday, February 4, 2014 9:03AM EST
Olympic officials are scrambling to make adjustments to Sochi’s slopestyle course following Norwegian snowboarder Torstein Horgmo’s crash in a practice run.
Horgmo was forced to withdraw from the Olympic Games after fracturing his collarbone on Monday while attempting to do a difficult trick on a rail.
But the “real issue” with the slopestyle course -- which is filled with various types of jumps and rails -- is the height of the course’s jumps, said venue safety expert Steve Adelman.
“Athletes become airborne so high and so long, that landing safely becomes an issue,” Adelman told CTV’s Canada AM on Tuesday.
Adelman said the course’s jumps are currently being adjusted so that “it works that fine balance between being high enough so that people can do their jumps, but not so high that someone gets seriously injured.”
Olympic officials plan to reduce the combined height of the three jumps on the course by a total of 1.82 metres.
When asked about the course, Canadian snowboarder Sebastien Toutant told the Olympic News Service: “It’s like jumping out of a building.”
Organizers are also adjusting the proximity of the ramps and rails at the top of course, following Horgmo’s crash.
While athletes had been complaining about the rails being “sticky,” which led to Horgmo’s crash, Adelman said the rails were “less of a long-standing concern” than the height of the jumps.
Adelman said a lack of snow last February prevented athletes from testing the new course, which is why plans to adjust the rails and jumps are only being made now.
Snowboard slopestyle qualifications begin on Thursday ahead of Friday’s opening Olympic ceremony.