Beijing Olympics organizers prepare 3 Alpine skiing courses

ZURICH — Organizers of Alpine skiing at the 2022 Beijing Olympics are ahead of schedule creating three courses on two mountains.

Course designer Bernhard Russi said Friday one of the courses is "completely ideal" for individual and team events in parallel racing.

The team event debuts at the Pyeongchang Olympics in February. Men's and women's individual events are a likely proposal for the Olympic program four years later.

Russi was updating team leaders on 2022 Winter Games plans at International Ski Federation preseason meetings.

All three new courses have been cleared at Xiaohaituo, 90 kilometers (55 miles) from Beijing. Earth-moving works should start within weeks, the veteran Swiss designer said.

The original plan when Beijing defeated Almaty, Kazakhstan, in the bidding contest was to stage all races on the same hill with a single finish area.

The downhill course with a vertical drop of 870 meters was judged too steep in parts for slalom and giant slalom. A different mountain around two kilometers (1 1/4 miles) away will host the other races on two nearby slopes.

"With this solution the downhill course is much more attractive and that's the key issue," said Russi, the downhill gold medalist at the 1972 Sapporo Olympics in Japan

Beijing, which hosted the 2008 Olympics, is the first city to host the Summer and Winter Games. Organizers want to create a sports hub served by a high-speed train line, due for completion in 2019, though in a region of little natural snow.

"Every course needs artificial snow in these days," Russi said. "There is not a lot of snowfall which, it sounds a little bit ridiculous, but it's good. If you have a lot of snowfall you are always in trouble" clearing it.

Russi said preparing the new courses was further advanced than at the same stage ahead of the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia or in Pyeongchang. World Cup races as test events should be staged for men in February 2020 and women one year later.

"To work with the Chinese is very exciting," Russi said. "They have also bureaucracy but we all focus on one direction."

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