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1ST LEAD Skiers impressed with 2018 Olympics course; biathletes also abroad By John Bagratuni, dpa

Europe
Von unserem dpa-Korrespondenten und Europe Online   auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Berlin (dpa) - Alpine skiers were Wednesday raving about the 2018 Olympics downhill course in South Korea where they will have World Cup races on the weekend.

"This hill looks amazing! Perfect man made snow, clear skies, and cold temps! This is going to be fun!" American skier Travis Ganong said on Instagram after an inspection of the short 2.,650-metres course in Jeongseon.

The 2014 Olympics silver medallist Christof Innerhofer also took to Instagram to praise "perfect winter conditions on the slope," and the Austrian team tweeted "very good conditions."

Training runs for Saturday‘s downhill start Thursday and a super-g is scheduled for Sunday in the first races on the course for the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang.

Test events at the 2018 venues for other ski sports such as women‘s alpine, biathlon, Nordic skiing, freestyle and snowboard are set for early 2017.

The weekend races are the first alpine World Cup events in South Korea since 2006, and the men will also hold the first races in Japan in a decade the following weekend.

Alpine skiers have lately only left Europe in late November/early December for races in Canada and the US, but this time around are not the only ones going aboroad in the second half of the season.

Biathletes are in Canmore, Canada, for the first World Cup races there since 1994 from Thursday onwards, and then return to Presque Island, Maine, the following week for the first time in five years.

Nordic skiers had their traditional ski-jumping World Cup weekend in Sapporo, and will also conclude the cross-country season with the maiden edition of the Ski Tour Canada stage race March 1-12 in Gatineau, Montreal, Quebec City and Canmore.

The Canadian biathlon team‘s German coach Matthias Ahrens said he hopes to see more action in Canmore, the biathlon and Nordic venue for the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, in the future, including a possible bid for the 2020 world championships.

"The World Cup will be a test run for the worlds bid. We will most likely bid with Canmore for the 2020 worlds if all goes well," Ahrens said.

Looking at the World Cup, he said that "a cycle every other year would be great."

While Europe remains the key market, Pyeongchang brings the Winter Olympics to mainland Asia for the first time - with China to follow as Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympics, opening a market with possibly 300 million skiers as pledged by the hosts.

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