PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Pyeongchang’s relatively benign downhill and super-G courses will favour skiers with natural ability and punish those trying to make up time with risky manoeuvres, former Olympic champion Bode Miller told Reuters this week.
“It’s not so challenging to make it down and I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of crashes,” he said.
“I think the mistakes will come from pushing too hard, because when it becomes difficult to win, guys try to take too much risk to try to gain that little bit extra,” added the 40-year-old Miller, working as a broadcaster during the Games.
The flatter gradient and softer snow of the Jeongseon Alpine Centre’s course will benefit aerodynamic skiers that are good gliders on fast skis, attributes that cannot be developed quickly.
“Either your skis are good or they’re not, either your aerodynamics are good or not — it’s really not something that’s easy to change on a given day,” said Miller, whose six medals makes him the most decorated American Olympic skier of all time.
The results from the first two days of men’s downhill training support Miller’s theory, with Canadian gliding specialist Manuel Osborne-Paradis going fastest on Thursday and similarly-styled Italian Christof Innerhofer laying down the quickest time on Friday.
But the relatively risk-free course could quickly turn dangerous for skiers desperate to make the most of their shot at an Olympic podium by throwing caution to the wind.
“It’s the Olympics, getting sixth place doesn’t do a whole lot of good here,” Miller said. “So they try to find out how to win anyway, and that usually means cutting off a lot of distance, taking a lot of risk and that risk is not helpful.”
The men’s downhill is scheduled for Sunday but may be pushed back due to high winds, which forced organisers to delay the start of Friday’s training.
Reporting by Rory Carroll; Additional reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by John O'Brien