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[February 06, 2014]
By Philip O'Connor
ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) — Qualifying
for the men's snowboard slope style kicked off Olympic action on
Thursday a day before the opening ceremony, swiftly delivering thrills
and spills on the sun-drenched slopes of the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
Games officials have been racing to complete preparations in time
but as Britain's Billy Morgan, the first athlete out of the gate,
slid into the finish zone volunteers were still hammering poles into
the ground to secure crash barriers.
All eyes were on the course following Wednesday's withdrawal of
American Shaun White, citing safety concerns.
Australian Scotty James was left clutching his ribs after a heavy
fall, but competitors were generally pleased with the course as they
sought to make it through to Saturday's final.
"It's demanding, but it works. It's not a bad course," Norway's
Torgeir Bergrem, who suffered slips in both his runs, told Reuters
in the finish zone
"They're not the most 'poppy' jumps — we're used to getting a little
help with our tricks — but you have to do everything on your own
here, so I guess that's the main difference that people are
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Bergrem said that doubts over course safety expressed earlier in the
week had been dealt with after organizers trimmed the height of some
of the jumps.
"It's not dangerous at all; it's a regular course," he said. "The
jumps are regular size, the rails are good, it's fine."
Peetu Piiroinen of Finland, who led after the first run, said that
the only problem he had was the light.
"The light is pretty bad, you can't see the takeoffs, there is a
shadow on the takeoffs," he said.
Qualifying for three events are taking place on Thursday — a day
before the opening ceremony for the February 7-23 games.
(Editing by Ossian Shine)
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