Sochi's challenging Winter Olympics slopestyle course should suit New Zealand medal hope Jossi Wells.
Wells, who is one of New Zealand's best chances of climbing the podium in the slopestyle freeski event, made an immediate impact at the Rosa Khutor course during the New Zealand snowboard and freeski athlete's first training session yesterday, according to New Zealand park and pipe team head coach Tom Willmott.
"He likes things big and he's also very creative on the rails so there's lots and lots of options and he's working his way through the different features and working out something that's going to stand out from the crowd, so that's exciting to watch."
Willmott said the nature of the Sochi course offered plenty of opportunities.
"[It's] definitely at the bigger end of things, but comparable with some of the other courses we've experienced, so nothing too surprising, but definitely on the challenging side, which is good. Jossi was really happy with the big size of the jumps - it means plenty of air time which means time to do some more technical manoeuvres," Willmott said.
"The girls started to build confidence. The course has got three quite technical rail sections, followed by three big jumps. There's a smaller option but the jumps are generally pretty big. The course is challenging and the guys got stuck in. The girls got their rail section sorted and Jossi rolled up for ski training and he'd been watching some of the snowboard training and just dropped in and hit it first time without a problem, so that was really good."
Female slopestyle freeskier Anna Willcox was also enjoying the challenging aspects of the rail section, Willmott said.
While the freeski slopestyle for men starts next week, the snowboard slopestyle athletes begin competition tomorrow, one day ahead of the opening ceremony.
Skeleton athletes Ben Sandford and Katherine Eustace have arrived in the village from Germany and get under way with scheduled training at the Sanki Sliding Centre from today.
Meanwhile, Cromwell freeskier Sam Smoothy, who is not competing in Sochi, has won the third stop of the Freeride World Tour in Kappl, Austria.
Fellow New Zealand skiers Charlie Lyons and Neil Williman finished in 15th and 22nd place, respectively.
- The Southland Times