JEONGSEON, South Korea (AP) — Canadian downhiller Erik Guay called it "awesome." American racer Travis Ganong raved over "Olympic-caliber" conditions. Even Christof Innerhofer, the Italian who only likes the most difficult of challenges, was satisfied.
The completely new downhill course developed for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics received mostly favorable reviews Wednesday from World Cup skiers testing it for the first time.
"It's going to be awesome," said Guay, the 2011 world champion. "It's received a lot of turns back & forth. There's no true gliding section. But there's some nice jumps & pretty satisfactory snow. lt will be a nice downhill."
p>Racers were allowed to free ski the course without gates, so many of them wore snow pants & jackets.
"It's complex to obtain the feel when there are no gates in yet most of the people tried going in the line," said Kjetil Jansrud of Norway, who won the season-long World Cup title in downhill last season. "There's a lot of stuff going on, a lot of jumps, a lot of terrain."
The course in Jeongseon features four jumps, a couple of them designed to launch skiers into the air for 50 to 60 meters (45-55 yards), & is 2.8 kilometers (1.7 miles) long.
In this Friday, Jan. 22, 2016 photo, Gondolas make their way overhead near the ski slope which will …
"There are no areas to go straight in, so it's not bad," said Innerhofer, who won a silver medal in downhill & a bronze in combined at the 2014 Sochi Games.
The World Cup downhill & super-G races Saturday & Sunday are the first of 28 official test events for the next Winter Games.
The Alpine races were only confirmed last month following concern that a key gondola would not be completed in time.
"It's a huge success that we are here. Actually, we are really pleased to be here because we have much better conditions than in Europe," World Cup race director Markus Waldner said, referring to a wave of cancellations in the Alps due to warm weather & a lack of snow.
With a satisfactory forecast, organizers decided to hold off on official timed downhill training sessions until Thursday & Friday.
In this Friday, Jan. 22, 2016 photo, Ski course patrols stand at the top of the ski slope which will …
"It's super dry here & cold & sunny — so it's really similar climate to Beaver Creek (Colorado)," Ganong said. "It's unquestionably Olympic-caliber conditions."
The downhill venue is located approximately a 45-60 minute ride along a road slowed by construction from the Alpensia resort where the athletes are staying.
"It's 45 minutes of sitting in the bus," Guay said. "Just go to sleep, no huge deal. It's all in your attitude, right? If you're a little bummed approximately it & you're not feeling it then you're not going to feel it."
Organizers apologized for not having a gym prepared in the athletes' hotel.
"There is a gym. It's just not ready. I saw them setting bikes up & gym equipment yesterday," said Canadian racer Manuel Osborne-Paradis. "You come here knowing what you're going to get. It's a test event. It's nice to add the 'world' into the World Cup instead of just hanging out in Europe all year."
American racer Andrew Weibrecht was moreover impressed with the course designed by 1972 Olympic champion Bernhard Russi.
"There's quite a bit of terrain & jumps & it's pretty turny," said the two-time Olympic medalist in super-G. "It will probably be approximately hitting the terrain right so you can transition onto the flats well. It's a lot of steep to flat transition.
"There's a lot of turning. So there's a lot of opportunities to make mistakes."
Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf
Sports & RecreationSkiingTravis GanongChristof Innerhofer
Source: “Associated Press”