JEONGSEON, South Korea (AP) South Korean skier Kim Hyeon-tae had a modest goal in his World Cup debut: to finish within five seconds of the winner.
He didn't quite reach it, finishing last in 42nd position - more than seven seconds behind Swiss winner Carlo Janka in Sunday's super-G test event for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
Still, Kim did better than many of the pre-race favorites who failed to finish their runs, such as Kjetil Jansrud, Dominik Paris and Andrew Weibrecht - and the 1,000 fans in attendance applauded his effort.
''It was a great pleasure to race with world-class athletes and I'll take this as a great experience and work to improve,'' Kim said through an interpreter.
While the Korean team provided forerunners to test the course in both Saturday's downhill and Sunday's super-G, Kim was the only competitor from the host nation.
''I'm not very pleased. I had expected five or six,'' International Ski Federation president Gian-Franco Kasper said. ''They had a few years to build up a real team. They missed a chance. Now they have to do everything in two years (but) in Alpine skiing in two years you don't build up a top team. This might be possible in snowboarding but not in Alpine.''
Still, Kasper and Pyeongchang Games organizing chief Cho Yang-ho are excited about the prospect of setting up a regular Asian swing of World Cup speed races with downhill courses now available in South Korea and Japan and one to be built in China for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
''I think after Pyeongchang and Beijing there will be a lot of winter ski athletes in Asia,'' Cho said. ''So you are going to have watch out. We are catching up fast.''
But the current plan for the newly developed Jeongseon venue is to revert it to a nature preserve after the Olympics as part of an agreement with environmentalists and locals who revere the area for sacred trees recognized for their fertility powers.
''Asia in general with China, Korea, Japan is probably one of the biggest markets for Alpine skiing and it would be real stupid not to use the chance you have to build on Alpine skiing,'' Jansrud said.
''I really would like for this course to stay as it is,'' he said. ''It would be a great opportunity for us to train.''
South Korea's most experienced skier is Jung Dong-hyun, a technical specialist who has started 21 World Cups, three Olympic races and two at world championships. He finished 25th in the slalom at last season's worlds in Beaver Creek, Colorado.
''We expect a medal in slalom,'' said Kim Jong-hwan, the secretary general of the Korea Ski Association, looking ahead to 2018.
Lee Dong-geun was one of the Korean forerunners for Saturday's downhill.
''It's a great opportunity for us,'' Lee said, explaining that he only began speed training last year. ''If we have a lot of training there will be good results in 2018.''
A 21-year-old from Seoul, Lee learned to ski in nearby Yongpyong, which has hosted World Cup slalom races.
Overall World Cup leader Marcel Hirscher trained with the Koreans in Yongpyong this week.
''They are all using a really smooth and brilliant technique but sometimes I have the feeling they are not so used to hard racing from the mindset,'' Hirscher said. ''But they definitely have a really good ground technique. It impressed me.''
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