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09 January 2019 | in Snowboard, Winter FISU World University Games

How's the snowboard set-up at Winter Universiade 2019? Spectacular.

We check in with FIS Technical Delegate Lukasz Ligocki. His reaction to the Sopka Cluster says it all: “I haven't ever seen such a high standard sports cluster”


Just before the turn of the New Year, Lukasz Ligocki, International Ski Federation (FIS) Technical Delegate, Snowboard International Judge, visited Krasnoyarsk for the first time to check out the preparation of Sopka Cluster for the Winter Universiade during the Snowboard Russian Cup Stages event. This month, the athletes will be coming back to the Sopka courses again to compete for the victory in the next stages of the Russian Cup. In anticipation of the coming test competitions of the Winter Universiade 2019, Lukasz Ligocki shared his impressions of Sopka Cluster and his expectations of the forthcoming Games.


Does Sopka Cluster meet the international requirements?


I have twenty years of experience in Snowboard business both as a technical delegate and a judge and I haven't ever seen such a high standard sports cluster. The venue preparation level determined the high quality of the December test competitions of the Winter Universiade Krasnoyarsk 2019. I come from a family of snowboarders, so I can evaluate the courses and compare the venue to what I have seen in other countries better than anyone else. I liked the way Sopka makes it possible to hold competitions in several disciplines at the same time. It is conveniently located for both athletes and spectators.


Sopka is perfect for the Winter Universiade 2019 and further training. This is a brand new venue, built to the highest standards of today. The courses are great and the lighting is excellent, which makes it possible for athletes to train and compete at any time of the day. During the Games test events, we will check all the slopes, equipment and infrastructure, as well as hone the interaction between the staff to make it perfect for the Winter Universiade 2019.


Are the Snowboard competition participants satisfied with this venue?


Of course, judges, snowboarders and coaches alike are quite satisfied with the organisation of the competitions. The only challenge was the weather, the severe late December frosts when the temperature dropped to well below - 30 degrees Celsius. We did our best to adjust to the weather. Thankfully, there were some heated tents in the finish zone to get warm. But on the other hand, athletes have to be able to compete in any conditions, whatever the weather, it is perfectly normal. In terms of organisation, everything was done really well.


Should we expect development of Snowboard in Krasnoyarsk now that we have Sopka Cluster?


Riders in Krasnoyarsk showed real class and the courses are good. In my opinion, after the Winter Universiade 2019 it is especially important to have a clear follow-up plan, as well as a training schedule for the athletes to use the courses and the infrastructure. For example, there are not so many Halfpipe training venues in the world, but you have a great facility. You have to maintain the Halfpipe slopes in the best way possible, keep them 100% smooth and with the sufficient layer of snow. Then I am sure Krasnoyarsk will become a training resort for teams from all over the world. The same can be said about Slopestyle and Snowboard Cross. The main thing is to maintain the courses.

 The newly-built Sopka Cluster, one of the main venues for the Krasnoyarsk 2019 Winter Universiade, was tested by athletes at a Snowboard Russian Cup stage in December. The top Russian snowboarders will be back this month.

What level of Snowboard competitions will it be possible to hold in Krasnoyarsk after the Winter Universiade 2019?


As far is FIS is concerned, Sopka suits competitions of various levels, including Continental Cup series. But let's finish the test events and see how it works for the Winter Universiade 2019. I believe your courses are quite suitable for the World Cup, but it's not up to me to make such decisions. I will definitely give a positive opinion to FIS management. World Cup is a large event and the calendar is scheduled a few years in advance. However, it gives Krasnoyarsk some time to prepare for the nearest available date, which is in 2022.


Snowboard is not just spectacular, but also rather dangerous. What kind of personal qualities can make you a good snowboarder?


To a certain extent, Snowboard relates to surfing. It borrowed some of its philosophy, as well as that of skateboarding. At the beginning it was all about being on the edge. But since 1998 Snowboard has been an Olympic sport. To get good results now, an athlete needs to train really hard and be fully concentrated. For sure, if you want to be a good freestyle rider or do your tricks at the best level, you need to be a little bit crazy. Moreover, being creative and well-prepared is also very important. You need to think, invent and improve your skills, just like in any other sport.


Try to imagine the emotional pressure the athlete experiences standing at the start line. Sometimes it is the most challenging part, to handle the anxiety and pull yourself together. In such moments your brain works in a different way from when you are training, as it's the time to show your best results. There are riders who can do really complicated tricks while training and in everyday life, but cannot get it together at the competitions. The training should be balanced. It should have both physical and mental aspects. The more you train and compete, the easier it is to handle the stress. Speaking of the Universiade, it is a really good preparation for those who are going to participate in the Olympics, where the emotional pressure and requirements for the athletes are incredibly high.

It's as Lukasz says: "For sure, if you want to be a good freestyle rider or do your tricks at the best level, you need to be a little bit crazy." It's in the landing zone you see if that athleticism and innovation and touch of craziness is rewarded.