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Olympic official confident alpine hill will be ready for Pyeongchang Games test event

Olympic course designer Bernhard Russi says he has "full confidence" that men's Alpine World Cup racers will go to South Korea next month for a 2018 Pyeongchang Games test event.

Downhill and super-G scheduled for Feb. 6-7

South Korea is preparing for a test event for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics on a ski slope of the Jeongseon Alpine Centre, which is supposed to be ready on Feb. 6. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

Olympic course designer Bernhard Russi has "full confidence" that men's Alpine World Cup racers will go to South Korea next month for a 2018 Pyeongchang Games test event that was in doubt.

Downhill and super-G races due Feb. 6-7 at Jeongseon were at risk from delays building a gondola to take people up the mountain.

Russi told The Associated Press on Sunday that the gondola will be OK, and the International Ski Federation will decide on snow conditions Wednesday.

"The final decision like at every World Cup [meeting] is snow control day, which is the 20th," said the Swiss official, who leads the governing body's Alpine executive committee.

Russi, the 1972 Sapporo Games downhill champion, has designed a single new Korean course for men's and women's Alpine speed races.

"It will be surprisingly good, I know, because there is good natural terrain," he said, between World Cup commentating duties for Switzerland's German-language state broadcaster. "We didn't have to do too much. It was more or less everything there."

The top men's downhillers have yet to see the track, and training runs are scheduled on three days to prepare for the World Cup races.

Russi thinks it will run at just over 1 minute, 40 seconds — about 20 seconds less than his acclaimed course created for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"The Sochi course was special, but I have a good feeling [for Jeongseon]," he said of a hill which has four major jumps.

Russi was reluctant to compare the Korean course, after his Russian design for the men was widely likened to another of his, the Birds of Prey at Beaver Creek, Colorado.

"Every mountain has the right to have its own character," he said.

At Jeongseon, men and women will run on mostly the same course which is cut wider to allow scope for different gate settings. Two strips separate for a 500 metre section in the lower half, Russi said.

Women's test events, also in World Cup-scoring downhill and super-G races, are scheduled at Jeongseon for March 4-5, 2017.

Russi has been joined by Didier Defago — another Swiss downhill gold medalist, at the 2010 Vancouver Games — to work on course design, including for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Plans to create a new downhill course at Yanqing near Beijing are on hold six months after the city was awarded hosting rights by International Olympic Committee members. "They had one mountain which was in the candidature but they would like to change it now," Russi said Sunday. "Final decisions are not made where the mountain is going to be."

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