Aussie Paralympian Mitch Gourley laments PyeongChang dumbed down course

Supplied image of Australian LW6/8-2 Paralympic skier Mitchell Gourley during a training session ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (AAP Image/Australian Paralympic Committee, Sport The Library, Jeff Crow)

Australian Winter Paralympics co-captain Mitch Gourley has criticised PyeongChang organisers for going too far in reducing the difficulty of an alpine ski course from the Olympics.

Standing skier Gourley will begin his third Paralympic campaign when he competes in the downhill event on Saturday as Australia bids to end its 16-year gold medal drought.

The 26-year-old lamented downhill course changes since the Paralympics test event a year ago.

“They unfortunately kind of dumbed it down a little from last year,” Gourley said.

“They took a bit of the terrain out and it’s a bit less fun, and add that to the soft, slow snow, it’s pretty grindy.

“The terrain – the rolls and jumps that were there last year, they really kind of smoothed them out and shaved them down.

“And I think they were very big during the Olympics – the built terrain that they’d made was very sharp and quite aggressive, and I think in taking that out, they maybe went a little bit too far.”

But Gourley, who has a congenital below-elbow deficiency and is ranked eighth in the world in para-downhill, conceded organisers weren’t entirely at fault.

“Part of it because there’s more snow this year,” he said.

“So that automatically makes those things fill in a little bit and little less aggressive.”

Gourley will contest all five alpine skiing events in pursuit of his first medal, with his best effort a fifth in the super-combined four years ago in Sochi.

He was confident snow conditions would hold up despite forecasts PyeongChang could be around 15 degrees warmer for the start of Paralympic competition than a month ago.

“If it gets super warm, they can salt,” he said.

“There’s a couple of different compounds that help the snow refreeze so you can get a really good surface in that sunny weather.”

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