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Tuesday, 5 February, 2002, 12:35 GMT

McKenna takes the test

In her fifth Winter Olympics column for BBC Sport Online, British Olympic snowboarder Lesley McKenna gets ready to push herself at Park City.

Well, this is where it really starts. I'm back in Park City, the Olympic snowboarding venue, and official training is under way.

This means I'm now able to ride on the half-pipe that I will compete on next week and can finally work out my routine.

There are five days of official training, but I'm only going to ride for four.

Tuesday is just about getting used to the pipe really, so I won't try to do anything too spectacular.

I'll just ride it for a couple of hours, and get to think about where I'm going to spin, what I'm going to do and then start preparing tricks.

"The competition is approaching fast now, but I'm still pretty chilled out"
Lesley McKenna

Obviously, all half-pipes are different - some are wider than others and there are often uneven bits along them, so it's important to really check out each pipe very carefully.

Of course, constructors try to make the half-pipe as smooth as possible, but it's really hard to get the whole thing uniform, so there's always a little bit here and there that's a little iffy.

If there's a part that's difficult to ride, you just do a straight air on it and don't try to spin.

The width doesn't really affect my routine - the only thing that really affects it is if there are any dodgy bits of wall and if the pipe is slow.

If it's a slow pipe, it's really hard to get enough speed and enough height to do big tricks and means you have to be less ambitious in the competition.

But it looks as though it's a fast pipe. I'll have to ride it to see.

The competition is approaching fast now, but I'm still pretty chilled out .

Actually, I'm pleased that the weather's improved and it's really good that I'm staying in Park City as well.

It's a quite a way from Salt Lake City to here and when it starts to get busy, it'll be a long journey - it makes a big difference.

I haven't had much chance to go down to Salt Lake City, but I've noticed the military presence around here.

There are some military helicopters flying about and the airport was very heavily guarded - security seems to be very tight.

But I'm surprised at how quiet it still is. I haven't seen any of the other athletes yet, I haven't seen anyone.

I walked around Park City earlier this week and I didn't see one athlete from any event, so it's all a bit surreal at the moment.

The rest of Team GB start arriving over the next few days.


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