All photos/video: Schneestern/FIS
The slopestyle course for the Beijing Olympics is revealed today. Designed and constructed by Germany’s world-renowned Schneestern GmbH & Co, who also built the much-lauded PyeongChang 2018 Olympic slopestyle venue, the set-up for Beijing 2022 does look pretty rad, like an extended Audi Nines setup. The top section has a themed wind barrier of snow, designed to look like of the Great Wall of China.
At its core, it's a fairly standard slopestyle course, with three sets of rails and three jumps, though time and budget have clearly allowed a slightly more unique take on those elements. Let us know what you think and who you think the course will favor in the comments.
FIS/Schneestern provided the following description of the features:
"Not only does the Great Wall look fantastic, it also serves a purpose, as it works to shield competitors from the prevailing west winds in the course’s breezier upper sections. Further, the features themselves in the three jib sections work also to act as a windshield if needed, with the features tiered down from the rider’s left to right - the highest features on the left, lowest on the right - which should work to give the competitors a multitude of line options in any conditions.
“Options” are what the three jib sections are all about, with section one and two both boasting five main sliding features apiece - including one feature in section two that has the potential to be the most-photographed aspect of the entire Beijing 2022 slopestyle course, as a replica of a Great Wall watchtower stands tall, complete with slideable ridge beam on the roof.
The third jib section is something of a rail/jump/butter box combo which should lend itself well to showcasing a competitor’s creativity, before the freeskiers and snowboarders head into the second half of the course for some airtime.
From section three the freeskiers and snowboarders will flow out to the first of the jumps in section four, which is a redux of the ‘wing’ or ‘skew’ jump that was featured for the first time ever in PyeongChang, four years ago. The two imposing, twin, off-kilter kickers will send competitors over a table top that is 19m to the ‘sweet spot’ of the landing, all while challenging their edge control and requiring some inspired trick selection to get the most out of the feature.
Following the skew jumps is another section built for creativity, as section five is a monolithic pile of snow that features roller-to-knuckle buttering options, transfer kickers and quarterpipes all leading to the same landing. With 5m high kickers, a peak height of 9m at the top of a roller, and a sweet spot in the landing that is some 21m distance from the kickers, section five is both a beast and one of the most forgiving features on the course - depending on how you ride it.
Finally, the Beijing 2022 slopestyle course will finish off with the feature that’s the most fundamental of them all when it comes to freestyle snowboarding and freeskiing - a huge, old-fashioned straight kicker 5m tall that will launch competitors above a 21m ‘step-over’ table top.
Call it the ‘Big Air,’ call it the “Money Booter,” call it whatever you want, this final feature (complete with it’s own Great Wall adornments) will be where the biggest, baddest tricks of all four of the slopestyle competitions go down, as athletes seek to put on exclamation mark on what they hope will be a gold-medal-winning run.
FROM THE CREATORS
“The main goal was a creative course that's connected to Chinese culture,” says Schneestern’s head designer and Beijing 2022 project manager Dirk Scheumann on his vision, “The main challenge we faced was to protect riders from the strong west winds. ‘Where would you like to be in windy conditions?’ I asked myself. Behind the wall, right?
“That's how Great Wall design came to be a part of the course. Also, the rail features are installed in steps, that go lower and lower towards the right side. We believe this will serve its function and that riders will be able to perform at their best.
“Once the wind issue was solved we put all effort to designing features that allowed for creative lines on the rails, take-offs, and landings, and I hope to see all the lines we imagined - and more - utilised by the riders at Beijing 2022.”
Janis Jansons is the head shaper of the Beijing 2022 slopestyle course - which is to say, the guiding hand turning Scheumann’s design into snow-based reality - and he echoes Scheumann’s excitement
“After 3 weeks in the construction phase we’re now seeing the end result of the work, and it’s stunning,” Jansons says, “On behalf of our team I can assure everyone that the Beijing 2022 slopestyle course and snow conditions will be of the highest quality, leaving athletes to focus on fun and their performance. We can’t wait for athletes to arrive from around the world and begin riding the course, and we are excited about the upcoming moments that will take place here.”
Scheumann sees the Beijing 2022 slopestyle course at Genting Snow Park as the most advanced build he’s ever been a part of creating, but also just another step in the constant evolution of slopestyle skiing and snowboarding.
“Slopestyle venue design is always a special thing because it's an integral part of the performance the athletes will put on display,” he says, “The course design inspires and challenges the athletes, but also the athletes themselves influence the further development of the course design with their performance. This constant exchange keeps creating new designs and great moments.
“With our current experience and tools, we can unite the functionality of the sport and the story of the host country's culture. Incorporating the Great Wall of China into the build is a great story to showcase and tell to millions of TV spectators, while also serving functionally and aiding the athletes in telling their story to the world through their riding.”