KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — It wouldn't be the Olympics if there weren't concerns about a snow course.
The issue du jour comes from snowboardcross, where riders were concerned about overshooting their landings on jumps. The women's competition at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park is Sunday and the men's is Monday.
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"If you go full speed, you're going way too far and then you will crash 100 percent," said Austria's Markus Shairer. "I think the riders that are not so good are doing it because they see their chance to pass there, but everybody who has done snowboardcross one or two years knows that it's impossible."
At issue are the kickers, or ramps that send riders into the air. Because they're too vertical, if riders go at full speed, they completely overshoot the landing or land too low on it.
Trimming the kicker to allow for a more horizontal trajectory than they're providing now would help the riders.
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"So if they lay down the lip it's a lot more manageable to suck our legs up and fly a lower trajectory," said American Nate Holland, a favorite to medal here. "So when you do overshoot a landing, you're not dropping out of a three-story building. You're dropping out of a one-story building."
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Holland said he petitioned to his coach, the course builder and an International Ski Federation (FIS) designee to have it changed. Shairer said they had hoped to have the course altered to fix that coming into Saturday's training session, but it was not done.
Unlike the howls about the halfpipe conditions, the concern was not unanimous.
"Some coaches are arguing that those jumps are fine, and that's where you get the gridlock," said Holland, a seven-time X Games gold medalist competing in his third Olympics. "It's like fricken' Congress. You get those gridlocks and then nothing happens."
Added Shairer, "I think the problem is that the coach from a team which is not that good is counting one ways, and Team USA is counting one ways. … If the FIS committee would ask the riders what they should do, I think more than 70 percent would say do something."
Because of conditions, several top riders plan to check off speed in Saturday's training session.
Most of the U.S. riders said the course was fast, thanks in part to their equipment. With their boards waxed like it would be for a race, all four dealt with speed concerns.
"Hopefully they can make those changes on the course and we can embrace the speed," said Alex Deibold. "It feels good to have your equipment be on point."
"You want to be able to throw as much speed at the course as you can," Holland said.
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