For daredevil athletes in snowboard cross, ski cross and alpine skiing’s fastest events the risks are obvious. Snow is unpredictable, conditions are often changing and in some cases chaos is everywhere.
“Sitting in the start gate, looking down the line the gate drops. Sometimes it goes really smoothed and controlled and sometimes it’s just utter chaos,” snowboarder Nate Holland said.
These riders are going to have to be very smart about where they take the corners and maximize their speed lines.
“They put a million jumps, a million rollers in front of us. You’re trying to get over this feature as soon as possible, and some guys wrecking off to your left. And another guy’s nipping at your heels on your right. When you’re looking at a big, 70-foot jump, you’re hitting this thing at 50, 60 miles an hour, you’re going to catch air. A rule of thumb is to get out of the air. The air is slow. The snow is fast,” Holland said,
Big air is not what you want to see. You want to keep that board on the ground so you can run fast.
“Get in your tuck. Get in the most aerodynamic position you can and search for the maximum amount of speed while sliding down a sheet of ice,” alpine skier Steve Nyman said.
That’s like hockey break ice in there.
If you are going off a jump and you’re actually flying far, you are covering more distance on the course and uh, you’re killing time,” Nyman said.
“Sochi is going to be a chess match. There’s a lot of different features. Lots of big air. Lots of scraped sections. And I think it’s a great course,” Holland said.
Weather is often a factor to these racers as well. The men’s snowboard cross event was postponed due to fog on Monday.