Slopestyle skiers positive about Sochi Olympic course

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As we’ve documented over the last several days, the Olympic slopestyle course has given top snowboarders like Norway’s Torstein Horgmo (who broke a collarbone in training Monday and is out of the Games) and Team USA’s Shaun White (who jammed his wrist today) some problems.

However, the skiing contingent – which will also be hosting its inaugural Olympic slopestyle competition in Sochi – appear to be taking the challenging course in stride. While acknowledging its tough nature, they’re staying mostly positive.

“The course is a little rough, but it’s fun,” U.S. skier Nick Goepper told NBCOlympics.com’s Skyler Wilder today. “It’s a little high impact on the jumps because they are big step-downs, but overall it’s pretty sweet. It is just different.

“The rails are interesting, they are a little bit hard to do tricks on, but I think we just have to make do. I’m feeling confident. We’ve had more training than ever, so I think you will see some sick runs in the qualifiers and finals.”

MORE: Ski halfpipe, slopestyle teams include youngest U.S. Winter Olympian since 1972

Not that the course is entirely perfect in the eyes of the skiers. Another American, Joss Christiansen, said to Wilder that ice has been an issue on the course. As a result, he’s hoping for higher temperatures in the days leading up to the competition on Feb. 13.

“They are having a bit of problems, but the park crew is doing a pretty good job,” he said. “They are going to work the kinks out. I’m hoping through the next nine days before we compete that it warms up and gets a little softer. I think that would be a good show if we are all a little more comfortable.”

For more reaction from the training runs, check out Wilder’s story in the first link above.

American Krupp, Canadian Macek fully committed to Germany

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Bjorn Krupp’s journey started at the Duluth IceForum in suburban Atlanta.

Brooks Macek piled up the points in Bantam hockey in Winnipeg, Manitoba, for the Notre Dame Hounds.

Men’s Gold Medal Final: OAR vs. CZE, Stream LIVE HERE 11:10p.m. EST / 8:10p.m. PST

Now they’re in the Olympic gold-medal game for Germany, having advanced further than the teams from their home countries. The U.S.-born Krupp and Canadian-born Macek have German fathers and now call Germany home with no apologies for beating or scoring against the countries of their birth.

When Macek scored a go-ahead power-play goal in what turned out to be a remarkable upset semifinal win against Canada, he pumped his fist and never felt conflicted about beating a team with the Maple Leafs on its jerseys.

Click here to read the rest of the story and watch highlights from the men’s hockey competition

Continuity carries Germany, Russians into Olympic final

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — They forged bonds from Riga to Cologne and in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

It’s all led Germany and the Russians to a David versus Goliath Olympic gold-medal game Sunday. Even though the Russians were favorites all along and expected to win gold in a tournament without NHL stars and Germany was a longshot to even reach the semifinals after not qualifying in Sochi, these two teams are more similar than they are different.

NBCOlympics.com: OAR to face surprising Germany in final

Their familiarity and continuity is the biggest reason they’re facing off in the final.

Germany’s core group has been together through the Olympic qualification tournament and world championships and has played the same system for the past three years under coach Marco Sturm. The Russians’ 25-man roster is made up of 15 players from SKA St. Petersburg and eight from CSKA Moscow, the two best teams in the Kontinental Hockey League.

“That’s a big key to our success,” Germany defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said Saturday. “We were very familiar with each other. … (The Russians also) should be really familiar because almost everybody plays on the same teams in Russia.”

Read the full story here