Sochi 2014: Snowboarders want changes to slopestyle course

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter in Sochi
Torstein Horgmo

Olympic organisers said they would act after being asked to make changes to the slopestyle course in Sochi.

A number of competitors demanded a meeting with officials after training at the Rosa Khutor "Extreme Park" for the first time on Monday.

Norwegian medal prospect Torstein Horgmo, 26, crashed and broke his collarbone during the session.

Snowboard slopestyle qualification begins on Thursday ahead of Friday's opening ceremony.

Slopestylers raised concerns about the proximity of the rails at the beginning of the course and want the height of three jumps lowered.

Horgmo, who was taken to hospital with his neck in a brace following his accident on the rails, has now been ruled out of the Games.

However, International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) organisers blamed his injury on the jump he was attempting rather than the course.

British snowboarder Billy Morgan is among those calling for changes.

"It's been a bit scary getting used to hitting the jumps," he told BBC Sport. "The jumps weren't raked properly, which hopefully they can sort tomorrow so they are smoother and not as intense to land."

Finnish snowboarder Roope Tonteri echoed Morgan's concerns, arguing the course was "not really safe" because of the size of the jumps, while Britain's Jenny Jones said a number of competitors were far from happy.

"People are a little bit concerned about the speed," said 33-year-old Jones, who has won three X Games gold medals during her career.

Sochi: Guide to snowboard slopestyle

"I think the take-off isn't ideal from the jump, so that needs adjusting. We have voiced our opinions and everyone's in agreement with what needs to be tweaked."

American Charles Guildemond, who set up a snowboarders' 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 take-off is really long. Some of the guys and girls are intimidated," he told reporters.

FIS technical delegate Bill van Gilder told BBC Sport that there would be action.

"It's a common process that the athletes come to a venue and have concerns after the first day of training," he said.

"Today's features were super-good, they just need a few tweaks to make them even better and the feeling I have is that everyone's 'stoked' with the course."

Slopestyle is appearing at an Olympic Games for the first time.

The course design, which was made public last August, was put together with help from officials who worked on the X Games.

Warm weather in Sochi is believed to have stopped some heavy machinery used to maintain the slopes from being used on the course.

It is hoped cooler conditions will allow more work to take place, with officials planning to reduce the three jumps by a total of six feet (1.82m).

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