Published Tuesday 04 February 2014

New Zealand’s Olympic slopestyle athletes hit the course for the first time today in Sochi and say the big and challenging features could provide an advantage.

The athletes inspected the course for optimal lines and speed this afternoon, confirming the jumps were some of the largest they have seen.

While organisers will reduce kick on some of the larger features to make them more manageable, head coach Tom Willmott said the big jumps would provide athletes with extra airtime and an opportunity to achieve more technical manoeuvres.

“For some of the more experienced athletes, like Jossi, for sure, it’s an advantage. He can be very creative on the rails, working his way through the different features and working out something that will stand out. It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “The course is definitely at the bigger end of things but comparable to some of the other courses we’ve experienced. There was nothing too surprising, but it’s definitely on the challenging side"

Willmott was also pleased the team came away injury free, building confidence as competition day approaches. The snowboard slopestyle athletes begin competition on 6 February, one day ahead of the Sochi Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.

Meanwhile skeleton athletes Ben Sandford and Katherine Eustace arrived in the village from Germany and get underway with scheduled training at the Sanki Sliding Centre from tomorrow.