The Russians have spoken! Work has begun on the 2014 Sochi Freestlye Courses, which will host the snowboarding and freeskiing pipe and slopestyle events for the 2014 Olympic Games.
It's no secret that many are concerned on the overall design of the course, arguing that creativity and innovation for athletes will be dimmed due to the standardized format FIS may implement at the games, (and at sponsored events leading up to the games). FIS spokesperson Riikka Rakic mentions, "It is too early to comment on the details of actual course design at this stage. As for the athletes, there will be a number of test competitions [slopestyle test events begin in 2013] before the Games, from which the feedback from all parties — athletes, coaches, National Ski Associations, organizers and our own professionals — will be taken into account."
One thing is for sure, "Sochi 2014 will follow the recommendations of FIS experts in the build and design of the slopestyle course," Sochi 2014 CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko said. Currently, an American-based company builds the courses for the X-Games and built the pipe for the Vancouver Olympics, but we might see the Russians pull a home-town hero to build the 2014 features at Rosa Khutor, the Russian Resort where the freestyle games will be held.
Whoever ends up building the features will have to follow FIS guidelines on design; however, those guidelines have not been discussed. Overall, the Sochi Olympic organizers are executing a three-year effort in schooling how best to stage the games. This effort will take the key members of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee to 28 different freeskiing and snowboarding competitions throughout the world to pick and choose how they will stage the event. Such events will include the 2012 London Olympics, the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, Russia, and most recently as last week, the New Zealand Winter Games in Wanaka, NZ.