the homeland in a sense and support family in the process,” said Jitloff. “It’s
going to be a memorable experience.”
Jitloff will compete in the World Cup super combined here, seeking to im-
prove upon his career-best eighth from last season in Bansko, Bulgaria.
“I’ve never been to Russia so I’m really excited to go over there,” he said.
“It’s an unknown and that’s kind of cool. It brings a different kind of intensity
out of the racers.”
Russian alpine head coach Urban Planinsek says that three or four Rus-
sian athletes will compete in the World Cup downhill while two will likely race
in the super combined.
Despite the newly manicured racing trails at Rosa Khutor — which opened
to the public in late December — Russian racers are not likely to reap the
benefits of any home snow advantage just yet.
“So far we have not trained on the Olympic courses, but we will do it in the
future leading up to the Games,” said Planinsek, a Slovenian who coached
his own nation’s racers before recently taking over the Russian squad.
Expectations for the Russian alpine program will certainly increase now
that there is a home mountain to train and compete on. Support has been
strong, as evidenced by appearances at last season’s Europa Cup races by
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev.
“For sure, expectations are high from all sides — racers, coaches and me-
dia, but we must be realistic where our limits are at the moment,” said Pla-
ninsek about the team.
Svetlana Gladisheva — Russia’s only Olympic alpine medalist, having won
silver in the 1994 Lillehammer downhill — currently serves as president of
the Russian Alpine Ski Federation. She said she is optimistic about the fu-
“I remember when I was growing up, going skiing in the Caucauses and
Urals; there was a lot of interest in the sport, but we lacked the technologies
of Europe and North America and we always had to train abroad,” said Glad-
isheva. “Sochi will be a massive help in developing alpine skiing in Russia,
and the new generation of racers will have the best possible facilities.”
Rosa Khutor will loom ever larger in racers’ minds as 2014 approaches.