OLYMPICS: Strong Snowboard Team Harbours High Hopes
Ljubljana, 6 February - Slovenia's men's Alpine snowboard team harbours high hopes for the Sochi Olympics, as at least two athletes, especially the third-ranked in the World Cup Žan Košir, can be counted among the favourites both in the parallel slalom and giant slalom races.
The 29-year-old Košir has been among the top snowboarders the whole season, managing three second place finishes and one fifth place.
Košir, who was sixth in the parallel giant slalom at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, has told the STA that he had been "attacking from behind" in Vancouver. "They let me do what I wanted. This suits me best. But now I'm already used to pressure," he said.
He said that the introduction of the parallel slalom to the Olympics was a big plus for snowboarders, making it easier for everyone, since "having only one chance is a major psychological burden".
Košir is confident about his abilities, saying that it feels good to see rivals study his original technique. He claims that he can only be defeated if he makes a mistake on the course.
"I'm afraid of nobody...I can say that my goal will be making the top five in both races. This is the way I need to think," said Košir, who made his breakthrough this year after being overshadowed by other Slovenian snowboarders in the past.
One of them is 27-year-old Rok Marguč, the reigning world champion in parallel slalom, who has posted two fourth place finishes this season.
Marguč has been complaining about the lack of good races this year due to high temperatures. "We are joking that we've been having preparations for the Olympics in Sochi the whole season, as we also don't know what will happen there."
Then there is also the former parallel giant slalom world champion Rok Flander. The 34-year-old was seventh in Turin in 2006 and eighth in Vancouver.
"In most of the practice sessions I was not only close but even ahead...I'm returning after an injury and it takes time for an athlete to build his confidence," said Flander, who also has not been happy with snowboarders only "having one race a month".