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Shinano Mainichi
Shinano Mainichi




Alpine Venue (Slalom and Giant Slalom)

Mt. Higashidate, Mt. Yakebitai, Shiga Kogen, Yamanouchi Town

Mt. Higashidate Having skied the course and talked with competitors, the adjudication by competitors for both the Slalom and Giant Slalom seems to be that they are "nice courses."

Mt. Higashidate (Giant Slalom)

The Giant Slalom course at Mt. Higashidate is a course with plenty of variations. There are ups and downs, steep slopes alternated with gradual slopes, interspersed with curves and undulations. This course will make for interesting races.

It is also good to have green netting to blend in with nature. Racers do not want to see the nets, and if they do see them they are finished (out of course), but it is a color that will not irritate them.

The steep slope immediately after the start enables the racers to build up speed rapidly, and makes it easy for them to get into their rhythm, which racers like. Having the course pass through the forest is also a big plus. Depending on the weather it may be impossible to see gaps in the snow surface, but being in the forest makes it easier to see. It also has the advantage of reducing the impact of the wind.

Being a course with many changes, it will be interesting to see how the course will be set (pole configuration). If it is a natural slope there are some sections that make competitors jump, and on the training on the 7th almost half of the competitors jumped, partly for fun. If the course setters think it is a good chance, the course will likely be set with jumps in it.

In addition to being able to gain speed easily, there are big variations in the course. It is a superb Olympic standard course at which skiers cannot win simply by being lucky. A competitor who has a good balance between power, technique, strategy and good reflexes, and who is flexible, is likely to win. I think the final steep slope will prove the key. The final section at which their legs have become tired has two steep slopes, so competitors cannot relax right until the very end, and competitors will not win unless they are in top physical condition.

Mt. Yakebitai (Slalom)

The vastness and ups and downs of the Slalom course at Mt. Yakebitai are dynamic. The Cestriel?? of the World Championship (Italy) had a total length of 660 m and a vertical drop of 210 m. Mt. Yakebitai is 607 m long, while the vertical drop is 220 m, which is the upper limit of the FIS rules. Overall it is a steep slope, which gives competitors speed. Small mistakes will be fatal, giving the course a high degree of difficulty.

There is no worry about canted slopes. This is generally the most difficult problem to be overcome, but Mt. Yakebitai has no such tendencies, and the course setters are able to perform setting as if they were drawing on a blank canvas. In Slalom races setting is always the most difficult problem, and there is a sense of competition between competitors and course setters. There is a certain individuality among setters, and competitors are aware of this. The competitors must remember the setting properly, and then just ski their way through the poles in a balanced manner almost subconsciously using their reflexes.

In recent years this event has speeded up as competitors try to ski the shortest course. Spectators can see large competitors attacking the poles as if they were fighting.

(Christina Von Ditfurth)

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Copyright 1999 The Shinano Mainichi Shimbun