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Ice quality on Sochi track does not meet standards

Martin, Dainis and Tomass Dukurs. Photo: LETA.
 SOCHI (Russia), Feb 12 - In a telephone conversation with LETA, skeleton coach Dainis Dukurs and the coach of the Latvian bobsleigh team, Sandis Prusis, currently in the Russian city of Sochi preparing for this week's World Cup stage at the 2014 Olympic track, said that the track's ice quality is way below standards, and staff there is in no hurry to do anything about it.

''We have competed on various tracks this season, but I can certainly say that this is by far the worst,'' Dukurs said. ''The ice is fragile and low quality.''

Dukurs also admitted that the track's workers have shown limited interest in improving the track's quality, and have a disrespectful attitude when athletes and coaches express their concern.

''They are just walking around, smiling and not reacting to any of our protests. Due to the low quality of the ice on Sunday, we were not allowed any practice runs. During this time, staff improved the quality and the Russian team was allowed to take practice runs. This is all being done with the upcoming Olympics in mind. Now that the track is several seconds slower, we will not be able to acquaint ourselves with it properly. Thus, the Russians will have given themselves a huge advantage,'' Dukurs said.

''We made an ultimatum today, and said that we will go home if things do not improve. At least things are moving a bit forward at the moment. Once we expressed our dissatisfaction with the conditions to the International Olympic Committee, the Russians suddenly began to run around and do something. When the ice corroded on one part of the track, we went to the spot to fix it. We were assisted by one of the workers - who was later fired for helping us,'' Dukurs added.

At the same time, Dukurs said that they initially had offered specialists from Latvia to come help get the Sochi track in order, but the Russian side declined. However, later, they asked for help, and two track specialists from Sigulda are currently on their way to Sochi.

The head coach of the Latvian bobsleigh team - Sandis Prusis, also told LETA that he believes the Russians are doing this deliberately to gain an unfair advantage for next year's Winter Olympics.

''The Russians are playing a dirty game. They have obviously received orders from above,'' Prusis said. ''The ice is very low quality. The track's workers do not know how and do not have the desire to do anything about this. In other tracks around the world, specialists from various countries come together to prepare the ice as best as possible. However, here, the Russians decide to do everything themselves. Furthermore, they do not even have the knowledge to properly prepare their own track,'' Prusis added.

As reported, the final bobsleigh and skeleton World Cup stage will take place this week at the Sochi Track in Russia. This same track will host the bobsleigh and skeleton competitions at neat year's Winter Olympics.
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