Alpine skiing-Shiffrin and company head into the unknown

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When the stars of Alpine skiing such as American Mikaela Shiffrin arrive in China's Yanquing mountain area for the Winter Olympics there will be one question on their minds -- 'What kind of course will we be competing on?'

Twice Olympic champion Shiffrin and Marco Odermatt of Switzerland, the overall leader in the men's World Cup, know where their competition will come from but have little clue about what kind of racing to expect.

The course has been designed by the experienced Swiss Bernhard Russi, gold medallist in downhill at Sapporo in 1972, and will be covered entirely with artificial snow. Racers have been studying video and photographic images to get a clue as to what awaits them but ultimately know that the only trustworthy data will come from the practice runs."You have to stay calm because nobody knows and it’s the same for everybody," says Austrian downhill racer Ramona Siebenhofer.So some surprises can be expected at a Games which will rewards those able to adjust on the fly and adapt their racing to the conditions.

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