Olympic downhill designer says tough, faster course awaits

Olympic downhill designer says tough, faster course awaits

ST. MORITZ, Switzerland — Stop worrying, downhill racers. The 2018 Olympic course will be faster than you think.

The new track in South Korea has been criticized — at a men’s test race last year and at the world championships this week — as being too slow with too many twists and turns.

Not so fast, veteran Olympic course designer Bernhard Russi told The Associated Press.

“It was on purpose to do it like this,” Russi said of last February’s World Cup downhill where race winner Kjetil Jansrud of Norway peaked at 113.7 kph (70.6 mph).

If that sounds fast, 2014 Olympic champion Matthias Mayer hit close to 135 kph (84 mph) on Russi’s design in the mountains above Sochi. A record speed of 161 kph (100 mph) in World Cup downhills was set by Johan Clarey of France in Wengen, Switzerland, in 2013.

“When you go the first time in a new downhill you start from the slow side. You don’t want to kill the guys,” said Russi, the 1972 Olympic champion and silver medallist behind Austrian great Franz Klammer four years later.

The Swiss veteran is skiing’s master architect, and always planned to learn from last year’s debut race and a scheduled women’s World Cup downhill on the same wide course next month.

“Now we know how much faster we can go, and we will. And the jumps will be longer,” Russi said of a men’s course that launches them airborne four times.

The main Olympic critic one year ago was Christof Innerhofer of Italy, the 2014 silver medallist , who called the course in Jeongseon “slow motion.”

In St. Moritz, it was world championship downhill silver medallist Erik Guay of Canada who wished for a faster, tougher test at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Guay said the test race had too many slowing turns, and was similar to a super-G — a pointed remark from the 35-year-old Canadian who is the new world champion in that discipline.

“I hope that they set it a little differently,” Guay said of the Olympic course. “I think that they should make it flow a little bit better. But the slope itself is great.”

The men and women share the Olympic hill, but not exactly the same terrain. Russi said there is time to adapt both before the Olympics. The women will compete in World Cup downhill and super-G races on March 4-5.

“Basically the character will remain the same (as the men’s),” Russi said of the women’s downhill track. “Maybe the turns will be a little bit tighter. Maybe one, two, three, four more turns. Maybe the jumps a little less big, less long. Perfect for ladies.”

Other factors could also change Olympic race-day conditions, such as snow quality and humidity in a mountain region only 40 kilometres (25 miles) inland.

“If the weather is good I think (the snow) is going to be rather on the hard side, on the icy side,” Russi said. “Everything is on track.”

Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Evacuation alert for Dark Lake Valley are

There are 21 properties are affected

Car in ditch in West Kelowna

A car landed in a ditch in West Kelowna

Kelowna Special Olympian bowls bocce ball for bronze

Katarina Gerhardt won bronze in singles bocce

RCMP respond to disruptive passengers at YLW

The incident is not impacting flights

Drumming group performs downtown Kelowna

Vancouver-based Chinese drumming group aims to promote unity

More smoggy air for the Okanagan

Breathing conditions are improving, though still not ideal

B.C. team stays alive in Little League World Series after another nail-biter

Surrey-based squad scored a 6-4 win over Mexico reps in Williamsport on Monday

Kids, seniors at risk as smoke from distant fires hangs over parts of B.C.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control says children’s lungs don’t fully develop until about age 10

B.C. mother charged in 7-year-old daughter’s death appears in court

The 36-year-old mother, of Langley’s Aaliyah Rosa, has been charged with second-degree murder

Troops heading to Lumby/Cherryville to lend a hand with wildfires

Canadian Armed Troops expected to be in the area by the end of the week

Thieves target tires and rims in Shuswap

Salmon Arm RCMP report two recent incidents, a van used in one theft was stolen in Surrey

VIDEO: Teen soccer phenomenon Alphonso Davies to visit B.C. kids camp

The 17-year-old Vancouver Whitecap player is one of the youngest players in MLS history

25-year-old Edmonton man pronounced dead on Shuswap Lake houseboat

Sicamous RCMP deem death to be non suspicious, BC Coroners Service investigating

New plan to lift more than two million people past the poverty line

Anti-poverty strategy will aim for 50 per cent cut in low-income rates: source

Most Read