The Russians are getting ready

A first look at the FIS plans for the 2014 Olympic snowboard and freestyle skiing venue at the Sochi resort of Rosa Khutor. FIS

Officials from the International Ski Federation (FIS) and Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee recently met at Rosa Khutor, the Russian resort where the Olympic freestyle events will take place at the 2014 Winter Olympics, and have decided on the locations for the ski and snowboard slopestyle course and halfpipe. But according to Sochi 2014 CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko, they're still evaluating who will build the features.

"Sochi 2014 will follow the recommendations of FIS experts in the build and design of the slopestyle course," he said.

This issue, along with how the Olympic slopestyle and ski pipe competitions will be judged, remains the hottest topic among elite competitors since the International Olympic Committee added the events to the 2014 Games earlier this summer. Many have publicly voiced concerns that the Rosa Khutor slopestyle course -- and others designed by FIS leading up to the Games -- will be standardized and leave too little room for creativity.

When asked whom FIS might pay to build the 2014 course and whether competitors would have a voice in its design, FIS spokesperson Riikka Rakic said: "It is too early to comment on the details of actual course design at this stage. As for the athletes, there will be a number of test competitions [slopestyle test events begin in 2013] before the Games, from which the feedback from all parties -- athletes, coaches, National Ski Associations, organizers and our own professionals -- will be taken into account."

Last week week, a key member of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, snowboard manager Alexander "Sasha" Adamyants, shadowed officials at the New Zealand Winter Games in Wanaka -- part of a three-year effort by the Russians to learn how to stage a Winter Olympics. Adamyants also attended the 2010 FIS Junior World Championships in New Zealand -- the first time FIS staged freeskiing and snowboarding competitions at the same event. Chernyshenko, the Sochi CEO, said his team is shadowing key staff at 28 major events between now and 2014, ranging from the 2012 London Olympics to the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, Russia.

In New Zealand, NZ Winter Games CEO Arthur Klap said Adamyants was scheduled to work with, among others, John Melville, who cut the 2010 Olympic halfpipe and also designs slopestyle courses. The NZ Winter Games featured AFP-sanctioned ski pipe and slopestyle competitions last week, but the biggest draw is the World Cup snowboard pipe contest, which counts as a 4-star TTR event and carries a purse of $64,000. The pipe finals are set to wrap up the 16-day festival on Sunday, Aug. 28.