The Alpensia Sliding Centre has been praised by skeleton athletes before the test event begins ©Getty Images

Skeleton competitors preparing for next year's Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang have described the sliding course as "challenging" and "mentally demanding".

They have spent the last two weeks here making themselves familiar with the course before a first competitive test is due to take place on Friday (March 17). 

The build-up had seen concerns raised about both expense and safety. 

"It is more challenging than I expected," Britain's Olympic women's skeleton champion Lizzy Yarnold told insidethegames.

"It is technical and really mentally demanding, there are no corners where you can coast around, which is quite unusual. 

"Its been a very entertaining few weeks.

"Everyone has been testing out some crazy lines - hitting walls and sliding all over the place.

"It's a very fun track."

Yarnold, who returned from a year out of the sport this season to win a bronze medal at the World Championships in Königssee last month, praised the way the track is at the centre of the Games and close to other venues.

"I like being able to hear the crowd [from other venues]," she said.

"I think it is important to be close together and as part of a team. 

"There is an economic argument for the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to think about in the future, but for this Olympics I am grateful [for the new track].

"The facilities are outstanding and the track is a joy to slide on."

The sliding track lies within a 10 minute walk of the Alpensia resort at which the Main Media Centre and Olympic Family hotel will be based during the Games.

Venues for ski jumping, biathlon, cross country skiing, Nordic combined and Alpine skiing technical events are also close by, along with the Olympic Plaza Ceremonies venue and the Athletes' Village.

Organisers had rejected an IOC suggestion made in 2014 to use an existing facility outside the country - probably in Nagano in Japan - in order to avoid the expense of building a new track.

Problems then emerged following initial testing year over inadequate icing features on sections of the course.

International Luge Federation President Josef Fendt also praised the venue after a World Cup test event event last month.

He did warn, though, that "a couple of improvements are needed here and there".

United States' Katie Uhlaender has praised the Alpensia Sliding Track ©Getty Images
United States' Katie Uhlaender has praised the Alpensia Sliding Track ©Getty Images

Yarnold's optimism was shared by others.

"The track looks great and the crew are working really hard to keep it in top condition for sliding," her British team-mate Laura Deas told insidethegames.

"It's a really interesting track with technical questions all the way down and several corners that are totally unique to here. 

"The sled gets up to high speed within the first few corners so it definitely tests whether you are on the ball.

"I'm really looking forward to the test event at the end of the week, it's an exciting way to end the season."

United States' Katie Uhlaender, the 2012 world champion, who finished fourth behind Yarnold at Sochi 2014, also welcomed the complexity of the course.

"The track has its own character and its own personality and every time I get to the bottom I am giggling," the three-time Olympian added to insidethegames.

"What's great is that on this track they've managed to create something which is really challenging yet tricky yet also completely safe.

"It really is the ultimately sliding ride."

Both male and female skeleton competitions are due to take place on Friday in an event doubling as the final stop on the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation World Cup circuit.

Bobsleigh competitions are then due to take place over the weekend.