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World Cup snowboarders and skiers recently got the chance to try out the slopestyle and cross courses for the 2018 Winter Games. The quality of these produced overwhelmingly enthusiastic reactions.
From 19 to 28 February, Bokwang Phoenix Park, one of the main competition zones for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games, was the setting for a series of skiing and snowboard test events organised as part of the FIS World Cup, on the Olympic slopestyle and cross courses.
The first to arrive were the skiers, who discovered the slopestyle course before reporting their impressions on social media. Here’s what they said. Current Olympic champion Joss Christensen: “The course has so many options, its epic!” Australia’s Lucas Tribondeau: “Craziest slopestyle course I've ever seen!” Sweden’s Henrik Harlaut captioned his photo of the last course feature with: “Possibly the dankest money 'boot her' I've seen in a slopestyle course!” Swiss team head coach J-P Furrer explained: “This slopestyle course is unreal. There are so many options and transitions! There’ll be so many different runs thanks to the course design, which has made slopestyle cool again!”
In the final on 20 February, the winners were Canada’s Alex Bellemare and Norway’s Tril Sjaastad Christiansen. “I just had so much fun this week,” she said. “The course was amazing. It's been very creative. Winning here, at the 2018 Olympic venue is pretty big for me and gives me a lot of confidence going into next year and then hopefully to the Olympics!” Alex Bellemare was no less enthusiastic: “The course has been awesome. It was way different than all the other courses. It had jumps everywhere and all that. It's been really cool!”
In the snowboard competition, America’s Sochi 2014 Olympic champion Jamie Anderson and her 16 year-old compatriot Brock Crouch posted the best scores. Anderson in particular made good use of her three runs to try out various options, with a series of increasingly spectacular moves. Both competitions were a huge success from all points of view: organisation, audience and athlete enjoyment!
A very high-level cross course
A week later (the weekend of 27 and 28 February), the FIS cross (snowboard cross and ski cross) World Cup was in Phoenix Park, for another “pre-Olympic” competition. On 27 February, France’s bronze medallist at the Sochi Games Chloe Trespeuch achieved her first World Cup victory, while American “veteran” Nate Holland narrowly beat the reigning Olympic champion, Trespeuch’s compatriot Pierre Vaultier.
“I’m very happy about this victory because it’s my first World Cup win and I’m happy to do it on the Olympic course! The course was very fun and there was a lot of action going on. It was amazing,” Chloe announced. “I had a lot of fun, a lot of fun” Nate Holland confirmed. “This course holds its speed, the features are huge, and this is what a boardercross should be, not just something where you all crash into turn one and whoever gets out first wins. This course allows people to come down to the wire. It’s bitchin’. I love it!”
It was the skiers’ turn next day. With a first World Cup win for France’s Bastien Midol, younger brother of Jonathan Midol, who won a bronze medal in Sochi in 2014 in the same event. “A great day. The course is so cool! I’m really happy!”, Bastien declared. The women’s final was thrilling, full of surprises and changes, thanks to the high quality of the course, and it was ultimately Austria’s Andrea Limbacher who was first across the finish line.
A large crowd was there to applaud the freestylers’ achievements, amidst all the “Hello PyeongChang!” boards and banners. In short, it was a total success, and everyone is now eager to get back and compete for the Olympic medals in two years’ time.