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Slopestyle course to be modified after injury

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — The slopestyle course that drew complaints from some riders ahead of the Sochi Olympics is set to be modified after Norwegian medal hopeful Torstein Horgmo broke his collarbone in practice Monday and is out of the Winter Games.

Horgmo, 26, landed heavily on his face and right shoulder while attempting a difficult trick on a rail near the top of the course and was taken to the athletes' hospital at Krasnaya Polyana, team manager Thomas Harstad said.

Medical scans confirmed a fracture.

"Injuries and falls are part of this sport, but the timing is really bad," Horgmo said in a statement released by the Norwegian team.

Athletes had expressed concern about the steep jumps at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park course even before the official practice began Monday, ahead of the first qualifying runs Thursday in the men's slopestyle.

International ski federation official Roberto Moresi, the assistant snowboard race director at Sochi, said organizers had responded to feedback from the athletes and were trimming the tops and bottoms of some jumps at the top of the course "in order to make it more smooth."

Moresi said the course wasn't a factor in Horgmo's crash, saying it happened because "he was just trying a really hard trick."

Course designer Anders Forsell said the changes were minor.

"On a non-tested course, you're always nervous, but it worked out fine," he said of the reaction from athletes.

TOO MANY STARS: With a handful of medal contenders in nearly every cross-country skiing event, Norway's team selectors face the prospect of having to drop either a double Olympic champion or a former world champion from the men's individual sprint race.

Each team can enter four skiers, and Norway's coaches have promised spots to three based on results. The fourth was set to go to Petter Northug, a big star who has struggled with illness but sees the sprint race as his best chance at gold.

Then former sprint world champion Ola Vigen Hattestad suddenly returned to form by winning the last World Cup race before Sochi in Italy last weekend, giving him a strong claim for the fourth spot.

The dilemma is threatening to disrupt preparations.

"It was stupid to put me up against Petter," Hattestad said.

KOIVU IN LIMBO: Mikko Koivu's return to the NHL's Wild likely won't come until after the Olympics, leaving his availability for Finland in question. The captain and first-line center broke his right ankle Jan. 4 when he was hit by a puck and had surgery to accelerate the recovery.

FLAG BEARER DELAYED: Austria is in need of a new flag bearer for Friday's opening ceremony as Alpine skier Benjamin Raich has delayed his trip to Sochi. Raich will skip the Feb. 14 super-combined, the Austrian Olympic Committee said.

. Fast facts

Sochi Olympics

What: 22nd Winter Games

Who: Athletes from about 85 countries

When: Friday through Feb. 23

Where: Sochi, Russia

Cost: Estimated at a record $50 billion

TV: NBC has U.S. rights and will provide more than 1,539 hours worth of coverage across six platforms.

Slopestyle course to be modified after injury 02/03/14 [Last modified: Monday, February 3, 2014 9:43pm]
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