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On the slopes for Vancouver 2010

Speed, endurance, dexterity, and determination – these skills are what the top athletes in skiing on the Olympic slopes in Vancouver will need to master. Skiing is the sport on the Olympic Winter programme that encompasses the greatest number of disciplines: Alpine, cross country, freestyle, Nordic combined, ski jumping and snowboard.

A first for ski cross

Vancouver will see the introduction of two new Olympic skiing events: men’s and women’s ski cross, which form part of the discipline of freestyle. Ski cross will feature four athletes racing a spectacular course, which includes turns, banks and jumps. Races can be tense, dramatic affairs, and a fast start before the first of several, often decisive turns is usually critical for the outcome of the race.

Rip it up

Ski crosser Ophélie David from France, a six-time ski cross World Cup champion, explains: “Ski cross is like motorcross, so you have to have a really fast start and ski aggressively all the way. Last year we raced on the Olympic course at Cypress Mountain. While it’s a great venue with superb views, the course itself is very up and down with a lot of jumps. You just get out there and rip it up. This is a great chance to showcase our sport to the world.”

Great venues

Whilst Cypress Mountain, adjacent to the District of West Vancouver, will host the freestyle and snowboard events during the Games, and boasts an impressive capacity of 12,000, the town of Whistler, north of Vancouver, is the hub for most of the skiing events at the 2010 Games: the Alpine races will be held at Whistler Creekside, the cross-country, ski jumping, biathlon and Nordic combined will be close neighbours at Whistler Olympic Park. This year, Whistler has seen a record snow year: in late December the 7m mark for season-to-date snowfall was passed (Blackcomb).

Vonn ready for Whistler

American Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, who has swept all before her over the past two seasons, winning world titles in the downhill and Super-G in 2009 says: “Whistler is a great race hill. I was able to secure my first World Cup downhill title there during the Olympic test event, so I know I can be fast there. But there are going to be lot of girls fighting for the podium. Maria Riesch is for sure my biggest competitor, but Anja Paerson is still fast and there’s a lot of younger racers gaining speed in a big hurry. It will be exciting.”

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