HomeAsiaSkiing into the unknown: Beijing's man-made Olympic pistes

Skiing into the unknown: Beijing’s man-made Olympic pistes

YANQING: When the alpine skiers take to the piste at the Beijing Winter Olympics this week, they are going to achieve this on artificial snow in an typically drought-ridden area.

To the outsider, the thought of internet hosting ski occasions in Yanqing, in a largely uninhabited space north of the Chinese capital that’s typically parched, may appear alien.

The National Alpine Skiing Centre has been man-made, tucked away up an nameless valley.

Streaks of white are etched into a barren-looking collection of steep rocky hills – sparsely forested and in locations lined by large sheets of wire netting.

The hills had been as soon as a part of the Songshan National Nature Reserve.

Thousands of gallons of water have been used to create the snow on the course. There is not any outlying snow to talk of.

The venue is linked to downtown Yanqing district by a brand-new motorway that shoots by means of a collection of lengthy tunnels and culminates in a raised jumble of roads.

A string of pink bubble-cars shortly transports skiers as much as the slopes previous the sliding centre on the left that might be used for luge, skeleton and bobsleigh occasions, whereas the Olympic Village for the mountain opponents is on the proper.

Soldiers man the mid-station of the raise, decked out in inexperienced greatcoats and outsized caps.

A street used for bus transport for the ultimate ascent winds circuituously under the bubble-cars, marked with the venue’s brand and sporting Olympic stickers.

Passengers take pleasure in the luxurious of heated seats – and warmed salopettes are welcome with temperatures falling to minus 15 levels Celsius and made even colder greater up the course with the vital chill from a powerful wind that continually snaps the nationwide flags.

The method to the two pistes that might be used for the velocity occasions – the downhill and super-G – and technical occasions (slalom and large slalom) is nothing in need of startling.

As laborious as it’s to consider for the onlooking layman, the idea of developing pistes and utilizing synthetic snow is nothing new.

Four years in the past, snowboarding at the Pyeongchang Olympics was held in a location with a strikingly comparable topographical really feel to that of Yanqing.

There too, a military of staff had been introduced in to assemble not solely the course layouts but in addition, importantly, manufacture the synthetic snow employed for racing.

Racers in China, nevertheless, haven’t had the alternative to check out the new pistes after World Cup races scheduled in 2020 and 2021 had been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

From the little suggestions there was, the course is deemed steep, with a most gradient of 68 per cent, and is certain to be testing given its icy floor on terrain that pitches and rolls and options 4 of 5 jumps.

“This might be one of the best racing mountains in the world,” boasted Bernhard Russi, the “piste architect” who has been creating programs for the International Ski Federation since 1980, having received gold and silver for Switzerland in the Olympic downhills in 1972 and 1976.

“It’s going to be a very challenging course.”

Fabien Munier, coach of French medal hope Alexis Pinturault, stated the course was additionally “undulating”.

“We received a few videos this summer, there are some Chinese who train and exchanged details with the Austrians, but there’s really very little information,” he stated.

“Snow conditions should be very cold and that changes a lot of things in relation to kit set-up, skis and boots. The snow will be aggressive, grippy.”

Italian veteran Christof Innerhofer stated on a scale from one to 10, “I would say that the difficulty of the downhill is seven”.

“You can see that it is a track designed by Bernhard Russi,” Innerhofer instructed Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

“There are no jumps, but several bumps and a traverse in the upper part, as in South Korea, even if overall it seems a bit more difficult to me.”

Alberto Ghidoni, head of the Italian velocity crew, stated the slopes weren’t for the faint-hearted, “not easy, very steep”, and even went so far as questioning their future use.

“They’re not for tourists in my opinion, even if here they would like to teach people to ski.”

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