By Oliver Trust
BERLIN, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- German bobsleigh and skeleton athletes heaped praise on the 2022 Beijing sliding track as a challenging masterpiece.
"It's a unique track not comparable to any other. The track doesn't allow any mistakes as it contains several uphill sections," 2018 skeleton silver medallist Jaqueline Lolling told Xinhua in an interview.
2018 Olympic bobsleigh champion Mariama Jamanka said: "It's a track that can easily make you lose a race on a few inches due to the challenging parts."
The 2018 bobsleigh Olympic champion added: "It's beautifully placed in the landscape and unique. It's definitely fun to ride on it. But you have to be more precise than anywhere else."
Both competitors expect Chinese athletes to deliver a surprise when it comes to the hunt for medals.
Chinese athletes can count on the advantage of competing on a home-ground they know pretty well by now, Lolling and Jamanka said.
Chinese performers have taken significant development steps in skeleton, the 26-year-old Lolling added. "We are full of respect for the achievements that have been made in China's winter sport," she stated.
Jamanka mentioned American, Canadian and Swiss bob teams as her strongest rivals. German coaches and athletes will keep a close eye on Chinese athletes competing in the upcoming World Cup events, the 31-year-old said.
"That might tell us how far they have come already," she added. Long-standing experience regarding competition means that German sliding athletes are one of the Olympic favorites.
Both are happy about the experience gained during the latest World Cup event in Beijing as training and competition delivered valuable knowledge about the track's particular characteristics.
Lolling spoke about videos of the track German athletes saw in advance. To feel the track and its special parts while in action in her perspective "was totally different. No video could cover that. It is much trickier than expected."
Lolling and Jamanka expect games under specific circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Not having fans and family around is a problem for me to some extent. But we all know what is at stake. Easiness and coolness are missing in advance, you always have in your mind to be extremely careful," Lolling said.
No athlete can risk being put into quarantine for a single day and missing training and preparation efforts. "We have somehow got used to the measures as they are pretty much the same everywhere; we know them for nearly two years now," Jamanka commented.
Both are looking forward to moving in the athletes' village. While strict distance and health orders must be observed "it might be not only daily routines when we start in February," as Jamanka put it.