Freestyle skiers from Belarus looking for more Olympic gold

In this photo taken on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, a freestyle skier from Belarus practices at a national training base just north of Minsk, Belarus. The lessons learned from the vaunted Soviet gymnastics program all those years ago are still producing Olympic gold medalists, in freestyle skiing. Competitors from Belarus won the men’s and women’s aerials gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and they will be in contention again this year in Pyeongchang. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
In this photo taken on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, a freestyle skier from Belarus practices at a national training base just north of Minsk, Belarus. The lessons learned from the vaunted Soviet gymnastics program all those years ago are still producing Olympic gold medalists, in freestyle skiing. Competitors from Belarus won the men’s and women’s aerials gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and they will be in contention again this year in Pyeongchang. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
In this Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018 photo, Belarusian freestyle skier Dmitry Mazurkevich trains at a national training base just north Minsk, Belarus. The lessons learned from the vaunted Soviet gymnastics program all those years ago are still producing Olympic gold medalists - in freestyle skiing. Competitors from Belarus won the men’s and women’s aerials gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and they will be in contention again this year in Pyeongchang. “Apart from great technique,” said world junior champion Mazurkevich, who has been left out of the Pyeongchang team, “we’re taught to conquer ourselves, to conquer the fear that rises in me every time before the jump.” (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
In this Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018 photo, a freestyle skier from Belarus practices at a national training base just north Minsk, Belarus. The lessons learned from the vaunted Soviet gymnastics program all those years ago are still producing Olympic gold medalists - in freestyle skiing. Competitors from Belarus won the men’s and women’s aerials gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and they will be in contention again this year in Pyeongchang. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

RAUBICHI, Belarus — The lessons learned from the vaunted Soviet gymnastics program all those years ago are still producing Olympic gold medalists — in freestyle skiing.

Competitors from Belarus won the men's and women's aerials gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and they will be in contention again this year in Pyeongchang.

"The team's getting ready to compete at the very highest level," Belarus freestyle skiing head coach Nikolai Kozeko, who has trained three Olympic champions, told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

The roots of Belarus' success in aerials — a contest of spectacular twisting jumps off a steep ramp — lie with an eccentric group of Soviet athletes.

Back in 1985, a group of amateur coaches started mixing ski training with lessons from the Soviet Union's formidable gymnastics program. The result was the first Belarusian freestyle team, as Alpine skiers rubbed shoulders with former divers and trampolinists.

The former Soviet nation, with a population of just under 10 million, has won at least one aerials medal at every Olympics since 1998.

In Pyeongchang, Kozeko hinted that the team could spring a new jump in its quest for more gold.

"It's a secret so far," the coach said. "Wait a few days and you'll see for yourself."

Defending Olympic champion Anton Kushnir, however, was tight-lipped about his chances for a repeat, saying only that "preparations for the Olympics are going as planned."

The freestyle skiers practice at a national training base just north of Minsk, supported by generous government investment. And it's there where the athletes learn how to deal with the dangerous jumps they need to master to win.

"Apart from great technique," said world junior champion Dmitry Mazurkevich, who has been left out of the Pyeongchang team, "we're taught to conquer ourselves, to conquer the fear that rises in me every time before the jump."

___

For more AP Olympics coverage: http://wintergames.ap.org

Must Read

Overall champion Hirscher breaks ankle, out for 6...

Aug 17, 2017

Six-time overall World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher has broken his left ankle and will be in a cast...

Hirscher needs 15 weeks to recover, missing ski...

Aug 18, 2017

Marcel Hirscher will need up to 15 weeks to recover from a broken left ankle, ruling the six-time...

Serbia loss gives Wales and Ireland fresh hope in...

Oct 6, 2017

Serbia has failed to clinch a World Cup berth in Vienna and has lost to Austria instead, giving...

Brignone dedicates WCup super-G win to Fanchini;...

Jan 13, 2018

Federica Brignone of Italy has won the penultimate women's World Cup super-G before the Pyeongchang...

After 10 years, Salzburg finally gets European...

Apr 24, 2018

Targeting European success since Red Bull takeover, Salzburg finally has international impact after...

Search

About Us

From transfer news, tactical analysis to predictions, get only the best of the world of sports daily with Daily Sports Club.

Contact us: sales[at]dailysportsclub.com

Subscribe Now!