"They're pretty inexperienced there, they never held the World Cup so it was really rough and really hard," three-time Olympic silver medalist Ivica Kostelic told CNN's Alpine Edge show.
"We had huge jumps and after three days of training, I went for a slalom combined run and I'm skiing down and I feel like something popped in my knee like 'crack' and I didn't feel any pain so I just carried on skiing, but later I found out that my meniscus was broken."
Despite such concerns, most skiers have come out in favor of the venue, designed by former skiing great Bernhard Russi.
"The hill itself is amazing but the way they set the course last year was not ideal," says U.S. Olympic hopeful Travis Ganong.
"I think they learned a lot from that World Cup and I think they'll open up the course a little bit and make it more like a downhill. It was very turny and a lot of guys didn't like that.
"They didn't ask for feedback but they heard a lot of it from racers and the coaches, and I think they're listening, so hopefully we'll have a more open, faster downhill set for the Olympics."
Ganong says North American skiers might find Sochi more familiar than their European counterparts.
"In the Alps they don't get the same kind of snow. Sochi has the mountains like you get in the Alps but the snow that you get in the U.S. and Canada -- it's pretty amazing," he says.
"The downhill course is very challenging and it demands the best skier in the world to perform on that day to win. I don't think you'll see some unknown people doing well, at least in the downhill. It'll take solid skiing from a very good skier to win."
Sports mad president
Winning medals is also among the top goals for Russia's sports-mad president, who attended a figure skating test event in Sochi in December.
"It was exciting," says American skater Charlie White, who won the Sochi Grand Prix Final with his dance partner Meryl Davis.
"We had heard reports all week that he was there, not there, so in our five-minute warm-up we heard loud applause and we were able to glance up at the videotron at the top and saw that the video was on him.
"It's a big deal to be able to perform for such an important figure. It's great that he cares to come and watch. I can't imagine how nervous I'd be in front of President Obama."
White and Davis won silver at Vancouver, and the 2011 world champions are coached by Russian Marina Zueva.
"A lot of successful coaches here in the States have come out of Russia and what they have been able to create in the past six or seven years has been really impressive," added White.
"For us it's exciting because at the Olympics there's going to be even more buzz. They have had teams who have been able to set a new standard for ice dance, they've had multiple teams like that."
While Russia has a rich pedigree in skating, it is still catching up when it comes to alpine skiing. So much so the Russians have are working with the U.S. -- despite the countries' long years of Cold War opposition.
"We actually have a partnership with the Russian team where we train with them a little bit and share training space and hill space," says Ganong.
"Their team is definitely building and gaining momentum. I'm not sure where they'll stack up for the Olympics but they're definitely getting stronger."
The Sochi complex is geared towards spectators, according to Demong, whose Nordic combined event will start and finish at the same stadium -- which will be adapted between the staging of the jumping and cross-country skiing disciplines.
"The cross-country course is fairly short, 2.5 km, and will loop through the jump stadium twice -- about half the course is visible from the stands," says Demong, adding that a lack of snow was promptly dealt with by event organizers, who had it trucked in.
"It's a very modern setup, it's a very competition-oriented venue. It's going to be great for an Olympic venue and for international event-hosting for years to come."
While Americans flocked across the border to Canada four years ago, numbers traveling to Russia will no doubt be lower -- but the intrigue is building, Demong says.