The course for the first slopestyle events in Olympic history has been revealed by the International Ski Federation (FIS).
The course at Rosa Khutor will house the new events of men’s and women’s ski slopestyle and snowboard slopestyle. The finish area will also be part of the skicross, snowboardcross and snowboard parallel giant slalom and parallel special slalom events.
Slopestyle, long a part of the Winter X Games, is an event where athletes are judged based on tricks done off rails and jumps over the duration of a course, 635 meters in this case. The course features three jumps that get progressively bigger. Freeskier.com has graphics of the course here.
“I’m actually pleasantly surprised,” American slopestyle skier Tom Wallisch, the 2013 world champion, told Freeskier.com. “It looks like they’ve included a good bit of variety and weather/snow depending I think it could be a quality course. Equal number of rail and jump features is also a plus.”
The U.S. has several medal threats in the slopestyle events. In addition to Wallisch, Nick Goepper is the reigning X Games champion in the ski slopestyle event.
“As exciting as it is to get a preview of the course this far in advance, I kind of wish they would have kept it under wraps until closer to the event so it was a bit more of a surprise, and so that runs wouldn’t be so planned out,” American Gus Kenworthy, who was fourth at the 2012 X Games, told Freeskier.com. “I will say that the rail options look really fun and technical, which is great, but I’m super disappointed that there are only three jumps. I think that for such a big event, having four jumps is crucial to allow the skiers to showcase every different direction of spinning. A three-jump course really leaves anybody as a contender and doesn’t necessarily demonstrate who is truly the best and who’s got the biggest repertoire.”
In women’s ski slopestyle, Canadian Kaya Turski is the reigning world champion, 2012 X Games champion and 2013 X Games silver medalist behind Norway’s Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen. Americans Keri Herman, Grete Eliassen and Devin Logan are all recent World Championships or X Games medalists, too.
“I think the course looks sick,” Christiansen told Freeskier.com. “A bunch of different rail features and the size of the jumps looks perfect. I like that they show us the course this far in advance, because now we know what we need to practice on.”
In women’s snowboard slopestyle, American Jamie Anderson is the two-time reigning X Games champion. She won her first X Games title in 2007 at age 16. She could be challenged by Australian Torah Bright, the 2010 Olympic gold medalist in the halfpipe who took bronze at the 2013 World Championships in slopestyle.
Likewise, the men’s Olympic halfpipe champion is dabbling in slopestyle. Shaun White was once the king of slopestyle, winning four straight X Games from 2003-2006. He’s now trying to catch Canadian Mark McMorris, 19, the two-time reigning X Games champion.