A NORGWEGIAN athlete has been seriously injured in slopestyle training on Monday, on the course which Torah Bright and her coach/brother Ben described as less than world class.
At an explosive press conference on Sunday, the Brights were scathing of the course even though they hadn’t yet viewed it, with Torah describing the jumps as “very, very large”.
Torah and Ben Bright were not as critical after seeing the course on Monday, despite a male Norwegian competitor being stretchered off the course.
Norwegian slopestyle snowboarder Torstein Horgmo, one of the Olympic Games gold medal favourites, was taken to hospital after the 23-year-old crashed on the rail feature of the slopestyle course at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, Norway’s team manager Thomas Harstad confirmed.
Horgmo’s accident follows a stream of criticism from competitors over the safety standards of the course.
“I saw that he fell over the rail and trashed pretty hard. He tried a really hard trick (switch hardway backside 270) — probably the hardest trick you’ll see all day. He was transferring from one jump to another rail,” said Norwegian teammate Staale Sandbech.
Sandbech said he could not give an opinion on Horgmo’s condition.
“I have no idea. You never know when you crash. A crash can look bad and you’re fine or the opposite but he’s a tough Viking,” he said.
After the accident, Horgmo was placed in tarpaulin and carried down the course by several medical staff to the medical tent.
He was seen flexing his hands as he was taken in for an examination.
Harstad said Horgmo, who is ranked third on the World Snowboard Tour for this season, was conscious but in pain and the extent of his injuries were not yet clear.
Ireland snowboarder Seamus O’Connor, who was out training in the same session as Horgmo, said he anticipated there would be injuries.
“The course needs some work. They overbuilt the jumps because they were anticipating that the snow would melt,” said O’Connor.
“At the moment the riders are not happy. The rails up top are too close.
“The riders need to speak up about the conditions. The rails can’t be fixed but they can fix the jumps.”
Although the incident didn’t occur on a jump, Olympics organisers will now be under even greater pressure to reshape the course in time for the snowboard slopestyle events which take place this weekend.
Slopestyle, making its debut at Sochi, is a spectacular high-speed snowboard discipline.
Competitors perform on a slope featuring various forms of obstacles – rails, quarterpipes, and jumps.
The Australian team practised on the course on Monday without incident.