Russian freestylers expect two medals in Vancouver

The Russian Freestyle Federation has presented its 2010 Olympic squad. Setting up a goal of winning at least two medals in Vancouver, they believe the upcoming Games will be the toughest they have ever taken part in.

As one of the most exciting and eye-catching winter sports, freestyle skiing is growing fast in Russia.

After building the biggest artificial ramp ever, Moscow hosted two World Cup legs in 2008 and 2009.

On the eve of the upcoming Games in Vancouver, the Russian Freestyle Federation have officially presented the candidates for the national team, and announced a master plan for the competition.

“We expect our athletes to win two bronze medals, in moguls and aerials. If they do so, it will be a very big success for us,” Aleksandr Cherkasov, President of Russia’s Freestyle Federation, said.

Vladimir Lebedev, who won the acrobatic freestyle bronze medal at the Turin Olympics in 2006, is one of those who is to lead the team in Vancouver.

Though he confessed he expected to face a much harder task this time around.

“I'm sure the upcoming games in Vancouver will be much tougher than Turin 2006. The fact is that Italy don't have top class freestylers, while the Canadian team is very strong. In this respect, the conditions are going to be much tougher for us this time around,” Vladimir Lebedev

The Russian Olympic team may turn out to have a perfect combination of experience and youthful drive. Unlike Vladimir Lebedev, Ekaterina Stolyarova is about to make her Olympic debut in Canada.

The 21-year-old was keen to become two-time World Junior Champion in mogul, but she realizes the Games are an event of quite a different level.

“My main task in Vancouver will be to handle the pressure and show my very best. I expect to gain some vast experience there and find out what it takes to achieve high results at the biggest events. And we'll see if I can do really well there,” Ekaterina Stolyarova said.

And the coach says it is mental skills that his team have to develop to do well in Canada.

“No doubt, and with no regard to any particular sport, psychology is one of the most crucial aspects of an athlete's preparations. In terms of fitness and skills, our sportsmen have no one above them. So the better prepared they are mentally, the better results they will achieve at the Games,” Aleksandr Pokashnikov, Russia’s head coach said.