The women's downhill from top to bottom

The Rosa Khutor women's downhill piste might have suited American Lindsey Vonn down to the ground but Alpine skiing's 2010 Olympic champion is injured and in her absence someone else will take the gold medal on Wednesday.

The winner will be the one most in tune with the conditions on the mountain, with the pristine white piste snaking down 2,663 metres in total from the start at 1,755 metres to the finish at 967.

Some features have changed, notably a rise up to the 'Devil's Spine' on the top section before the first traverse, since the piste hosted a World Cup race in 2012.

Jumps have also been modified in the last week after safety fears emerged due to the amount of distance racers were flying in training.

That may have reduced the challenge, but it is still to be respected.

From the 'Launch Pad', the piste drops to 'Small Pan' with racers then lined up for the 'Forest Jump' and a sweep round through 'Bolchoi Traverse'.

"There's some technical places on top, especially ... coming over to that Forest Jump," said Sweden's retired former downhill world champion and six times Olympic medallist Anja Paerson, who raced on it in 2012.

"You have some really heavy turns and in that bottom you have a huge left footer coming back up. And then it's a side hill and pretty much uphill last time we were here. That's where they really have to set that turn.

"Then it's pretty flat in the mid-section," she told Reuters.

"On that section you could gain a lot of time. When you ski a side hill, it's on your left foot. You can't be too straight and heavy. But you can't be too round. You really have to get that harmony and feeling with the snow."

The 'Tunnel Jump' leads down to the 'Serpentine', where skiers really start to feel the fatigue in their legs, and then through the 'Solitary Jump' - the last before the long and relatively easy sweep down to the finish area which is shared with the men's piste.

"The solitary jump last time we were here was a bit tricky coming into because its again a really heavy left-footer coming into that last steep," said Paerson.

"If Lindsey would have been here for racing, she would have been a perfect candidate for this race.

"I think there are some good gliders' sections in there but it's not really for the best gliders. It's about that feeling, especially in that side hill."

Norwegian Ragnhild Mowinckel said it was hard to compare it to other pistes used on the World Cup circuit.

"It's really turny and technical and even in the flats there are so many bumps and terrain you've got to watch out for. You can never really rest. And you feel it at the finish. It burns," she said.