ST. MORITZ, Switzerland, Feb 15 (AP) — 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 medalist 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 medalist, who called the course in Jeongseon "slow motion."
In St. Moritz, it was world championship downhill silver medalist 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 kilometers (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."
In One of '100 best foreign English Premier
League players in history': Park Ji-Sung
The Korean football star who
played for Manchester United as a midfielder, is included in "the top 100
best foreign English Premier League (EPL) players in history."
Reputed British football magazine FourFourTwo compiled the
list, in which the retired Korean is ranked 100.
"Although some viewed Park initially joining Manchester
United as a ploy to boost sales in Asia rather than for his football skill, he
soon showed his value as a midfielder," said the magazine.
"Park's near-infinite reservoir of attacking running,
defensive diligence and tactical intelligence made him a fans' favorite at Old
Park, 37, played 230 matches and scored 27 goals in the
English league _ seven seasons with Manchester United and one with Queens Park
Park was widely considered as a major contributor in
Manchester United winning the EPL four times, English Football League cups
three times, the Football Association Community Shield four times and the UEFA
Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup once each.
Knuckle down for penetrating ball
What the clubface is doing at impact
determines the quality of the strike ― in fact, where it's pointing determines
75 to 85 percent of the initial starting direction of your golf ball.
In addition to directional control, good players decrease
clubface loft at impact to create laserlike penetration, while poor players add
loft, producing out-of-control wobblers that blow all over the lot. Studies
show that a tour player's 6-iron with 30 degrees of loft built in at the
factory has 25 degrees at impact, whereas the average player starting with 30
ends at 34.
How can you hit laser irons by de-lofting? It's what you do
with the palm of your trail hand that determines penetration. If your palm is
facing up toward the sky halfway into your downswing, you're forced to
aggressively manipulate the face to square it and de-loft it at impact. This
can be done, but when you have only a fourth of a second until impact, it's all
too easy to "hold on" and leave the face open, producing a high weak
The usual amateur fix ― swinging your arms faster on the next
shot ― only makes the slice worse because you're not squaring the face; you're
simply making the club go faster with an open face.
To change the quality of your ball flight from power-puff to
piercing, turn the knuckles of your top hand to the ground through impact. You
should start this early in the downswing because it's best when it's done
slowly and smoothly. Exactly when to begin is discovered through practice.
PyeongChang, the host to Korea's first Winter Olympics in 2018, is
celebrating the one-year countdown to the global sports events.
Next year's Winter Olympics will be Korea's second Olympic
hosting following the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics and the third winter event in
Asia, with the previous two being held in Japan in 1972 and 1998.
Beginning with the opening ceremony, Feb. 9, some 6,500
athletes and officials from 95 countries will compete for 102 gold medals in 15
disciplines at 12 venues for 17 days. Korea, has set its goal to win up to 20
medals, including eight gold. Winter sports stars, such as U.S. alpine skier
Lindsey Vonn, Japanese ski jumper Sara Takanashi, speed skater Lee Sang-hwa,
cross country skier Kim Magnus, Russian figure skaters Evgenia Medvedeva and
Cha Jun-hwan, are expected to light up the quadrennial competition.
A few days after the Olympics, the Paralympic Winter Games
will also take place for 10 days from March 9 to 18 with some 3,000 athletes
from 45 countries.
The PyeongChang Winter Games will take place at 12 venues.
Six of them newly built while the other six have been refurbished. Officials
said that the six new facilities are 96 percent complete as of January.
Before raising the curtain, the PyeongChang Organizing
Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) is in final
rehearsals as a total of 26 test events are featured at the venues through
April. This is to emulate the conditions during the actual Olympic season for
smooth game operations. During the series of test events, 5,500 athletes and
officials from 90 countries, 4,500 press corps members and 2,200 volunteers
Celebrating the one-year countdown, the POCOG will hold
celebrations at host cities PyeongChang, Gangneung and Jeongseon. On Thursday,
the POCOG will reveal the design of the Olympic Torch and launch ticket sales
for the opening ceremony, at the Gangneung Hockey Centre.
PyeongChang needs more global recognition
With a year to go, some concerns have been raised that people
around the world are not very aware of the Games host.
Similarly in the hosting country, Tuesday's survey shows less
than half of Koreans are interested in the PyeongChang Olympics.
According to a Gallup Korea survey of 1,003 Koreans, Feb. 1
and 2, only 48 percent said were interested in the Olympics while 49 percent
said they weren't -- 19 percent said they had zero interest. Gallup Korea added
64 percent of Koreans showed interest in the Sochi Games a week before the
For individual sport events in the Olympics, 34 percent said
they look forward to figure skating, followed by short track with 27 percent
and speed skating with 15 percent; while 34 percent said they either didn't
have any interest in winter sports or didn't have any knowledge of them.