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Torstein Horgmo and Shaun White are already out of slopestyle at Sochi. What’s going on with this course?

That’s a little teaser trailer for the official mobile game of Sochi, slopestyle edition. Slopestyle as an event is debuting at Sochi in terms of the Olympics, i.e. it’s never appeared at an Olympic Games before. Here’s a pretty brief description of what it is:

Slopestyle is a winter sporting event where the goal is to perform the most difficult tricks while getting the highest amplitude off jumps, with an emphasis on performing different types of tricks instead of doing one great trick repeatedly. It originated as a snowboarding competition format, but there are now many sports that are considered to have this style of competition, of which skiing and snowboarding are two of the most common.

Problem is, some of the biggest names to sign up for the event’s Olympic debut are getting injured on trial runs — like Torstein Horgmo of Norway, who had a shot at gold:

And now Shaun White, potentially the best known U.S. Winter Games athlete (he’s still competing in other events):

So … what exactly is happening with this slopestyle course in Sochi? Well, the event was for both genders — i.e. a women’s run and a men’s run. Here seems to be the issue on the female side:

“For women the big jumps are a little too big,” said Sarka Pancochova of the Czech Republic. “When you have really good jumps like the X Games even the women have no problem dealing with the big jumps. It’s very hard for them to figure it out. It’s progressed from yesterday.”

“For women to do their best, then a little smaller jumps are better. It’s not that I’m scared – I’ve been hitting fucking big jumps at X Games for years. It’s a little bit dangerous still. You think they should have figured it out by now and they should have a course that is perfect.”

On the men’s side, the issue might be similar: the design is a little too intense. From The Toronto Sun:

American Charles Guildemond, who set up a snowboarder’s union in 2011, described the jumps on the course as being similar to “dropping out of the sky.”

“The last jump I did has a lot of impact in it and the takeoff is really long. Some of the guys and girls are intimidated,” he told reporters.

“I think they wanted to make big kickers and it’s not really good for riders. It’s not really safe anymore. I just don’t want to get injured,” Finland’s Roope Tonteri said after his practice run.

The jumps are apparently “over-built” because of a string of wet weather during the design and construction phase of the slopestyle course. As a result, it’s essentially a non-tested course. The idea is to add to “the knuckle” (the top part of the jump) and reduce “the kicker” (where the riders take off) to make the entire run more smooth. Sochi’s got enough potential issues, so an injury in a major, new event would probably not be the best thing.

Here’s the set-up for the snowboarding slopestyle course at the World Championships in Oslo, for some context:

Ted Bauer

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