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21 Jan, 2009 10:40

Snow junkies hit Sochi

Snowboarders and skiers from Europe and America have descended on Sochi for the free-ride world tour.

It's the second time the extreme sports event has been held at the southern Russian resort – which is preparing to host the Winter Olympics in five years time.

“It's always a big pleasure for me to come back here and feel the energy of those mountains. I found here the perfect snow that is a mixture of snow in Japan and the Alps,” said snowboarder and participant Jonas Emery.

Free-riding is not as popular in Russia as it is in other parts of the world. But this year Russia is represented by six riders, and a hefty prize of $250,000 is up for grabs.

Sochi has been given warm reviews by those who have made the journey to the Russian city.

“I come from Switzerland, and people are very friendly, when I came here; I was really surprised, lots of snow, very helpful people, hospitable,” said Xavier Jordan, head judge for the competition.

The event lasts two days but organisers have set aside a week just in case the weather doesn't cooperate.

Following the world tour in Sochi, the riders will move to Northern California for the next stage in one of the most extreme sports on the face of the planet.