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Night Time Is Right Time
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China's four-man team in the Winter Olympics freestyle aerial competition said they had no worries over competing in the dark here yesterday.

Han Xiaopeng, Ou Xiaotao, Qiu Sen and Liu Zhongqing believe they have undergone sufficient training for the event which is held under floodlights at this Alpine venue.

"I feel very good and I have very good vision when I make the jumps," said 22-year-old Han who comes into the Games having equalled his best ever World Cup performance of a second place at Spindleruv in the Czech Republic.

"The night competition will not affect my performance. I used to be a little afraid of competing at night but since last year we have taken part in several World Cup events at night and now I feel okay."

The Chinese are not expected to win a medal. However, they are determined to build on their previous best at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002 where Qiu was the pick of the team finishing in 18th place.

"I feel pretty good," said Qiu, a 24-year-old from Liaoyang.

China's freestyle skiing coach has demanded that athletes in this thrilling but dangerous sport start using mouth guards to protect against injuries.

Canadian Cindy Thomson, who is China's conditioning coach, voiced her concerns after seeing aerial skiier Xu Nannan suffer a horrible injury during training. Xu collapsed and bit her tongue as she crash-landed.

"In my opinion, they should all wear mouth guards," she said. "They can prevent tongue injuries and most importantly, concussion. But most of them aren't used to wearing them."

(China Daily February 21, 2006)

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