SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - The slopestyle snowboarding course at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games will be changed after the Norwegian favorite broke his collarbone during a training run on Monday.
However, International Ski Federation (FIS) organizers blamed Torstein Horgmo’s injury on the jump he was attempting rather than the course at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park where the event is due to make its Olympic debut.
“He was just trying a really hard trick,” FIS official Roberto Moresi told reporters after Horgmo was carried from the course on a stretcher following his crash.
The 26-year-old was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital where the break was confirmed, ending his Olympic hopes.
There was no shortage of criticism from Horgmo’s fellow snowboarders after the first day of training.
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.
At the end of the three-hour practice, male and female competitors gathered together near the finish to discuss the course and what could be done about it.
Ireland’s Seamus O‘Connor said the course suffered from design problems as organizers tried to deal with a recent spell of wet weather, describing the jumps as “over-built.”
His sentiments were echoed by course designer and technical adviser Anders Forsell from Sweden.
“We’ve been building the course for about a month. The weather has been pretty soft, it’s been raining a lot,” said Forsell, adding that overall he was happy with the course but some changes would now be made.
“On a non-tested course you’re always nervous, but it worked out fine. Just some small adjustments.”
FIS official Moresi said the feedback from the athletes would be taken into account to make the course safer after riders complained the tops of the jumps were too steep.
“The way we fix it is to have something bigger and trim it down. We will add to the knuckle (the top part of the jump) and then we’ll take a little off the kicker (the side where the riders take off) in order to make it more smooth.”
Qualifying for the slopestyle event will begin on Thursday, with the opening ceremony for the Sochi Games due to take place on Friday.
Editing by Rex Gowar