Downhill conditions looking good

Wed Feb 5, 2014 11:28am EST
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By Alan Baldwin

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Piste conditions for Sunday's showcase men's Olympic downhill are currently excellent, Alpine skiing officials said on Wednesday.

International Ski Federation (FIS) men's race director Guenther Hujara complimented the Sochi organizers at the first team captains' meeting of the Winter Games, which open on Friday.

"It's very good to have...excellent, excellent course conditions," he said after non-competing skiers made the first test run on the Rosa Khutor slope and athletes enjoyed some free skiing in the sunshine.

"People will be surprised how well prepared and how good the conditions are. We tested today with 10 forerunners and the jumps and everything worked quite well.

"We know that the speed of other athletes will be much higher than some of the forerunners could go but even then we are convinced that everything works out very well," added Hujara.

The men and women will have their first official downhill training sessions on Thursday on the slope that hosted a World Cup race in 2012.

Austrian Andreas Evers, the speed coach of the U.S. men's team that includes ageing showman Bode Miller, had no complaints about a layout designed by Switzerland's 1972 Olympic champion Bernhard Russi.

"The course is in excellent shape," he told Reuters. "Compared with two years ago, it is set a little bit different on top and preparation is a little bit nicer on top.   Continued...

A volunteer looks up to the start of the downhill courses at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Skiing mountain resort ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 5, 2014. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger