Sochi Scene - Praise for Jumping, Skating Venues; Putin Attends Test Event

(ATR) Sochi 2014 says its first weekend of international test events was a success ... Reactions from athletes, organizers, federation presidents and Vladimir Putin inside this Sochi Scene ...

(ATR) Sochi 2014 says its first weekend of international test events, including the International Skating Union Grand Prix Finals and a FIS Ski Jumping World Cup, was a success.

The events, which concluded on Sunday, were the first international test events for the upcoming Winter Olympics host city.

Nearly 200 competitors from 20 countries took part in the competition.

"The Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee together with Russian and international federations have successfully hosted the first major international competitions," Sochi 2014 President and CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko said.

"Now we have reached the critical part of testing operational readiness, when all the functions are in place and we are testing all the plans which will deliver an exceptional Games in 2014.

"We are very happy that we fit the highest requirements of the International Federations and have reached all our goals for the testing of centralized services and services for the client groups and the Organizing Committee operational readiness."

He added that test events were conducted in "Olympic mode" in warm weather with little snow, but he guaranteed snow in February of 2014, even if temperatures reach 15 C.

"In case there is an exception and we have bad weather like there was in Vancouver, we have a plan b and a plan c which we have already successfully tested here we can cover this wonderful ski jump in snow. We have real snow stored in a special reservoir from the previous winter season for plan b, and plan c is [for] a special snow producing plant so if the temperature is up to 15C, snow will be guaranteed."

ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta says he is happy with the skating venue for the 2014 Olympics.

"I would like to say that everything at the Iceberg Skating Palace creates a really good impression," he said in a statement. "The arena has been prepared thoroughly and we can only congratulate our Russian colleagues on a job well done. It deserves respect".

First Women’s Ski Jump Test Event Champion

Daniela Iraschko of Austria is the winner of the first ever women's ski jumping test event for an Olympics.

Irashcko defeated Coline Mattel of France and Japanese jumper Sara Takanashi at Saturday's finals in Sochi. Takanashi, however, leads the overall World Cup competition now.

With warm weather conditions, Sochi 2014 made use of its "Sochi 2014: Guaranteed Snow" program, deploying 4,600 cubic square meters of reserved snow on the RusSki Gorki jumping center.

Andreas Kofler of Austria won the men’s event Sunday while Richard Freitag and Andreas Wellinger of Germany finished second and third.

Jumpers from 19 countries took part in the competition over the weekend.

Sochi Downplays Attendance Concerns, Studying Sight Concerns

Some athletes and media reports cited the low attendance at the test events, but Sochi 2014 says the figures are not worrisome.

"The events were over 90 percent attended based on the number of seats that were made available for spectators," a statement from the organizing committee supplied to Around the Rings said. "The ticketing system passed its first test too; in total the Grand Prix Finals were visited by 25,000 people."

Test events are not typically promoted as spectator events, and are geared more for testing the technical aspects of the venues.

On Friday, ISU president Cinquanta criticized the placement of thick bars in the upper bowl of the Iceberg Palace. He said the bars would block spectators views of the action.

Sochi 2014 said they will make note of his suggestion.

"Following the test events in 2012-2013 being over Sochi 2014 will carefully analyze the vital feedback we received from the international federations, athletes, media and broadcasters to take all the appropriate decision well ahead of the Games. We are determined to deliver the best possible Games in 2014 and the learnings from the test events play a vital part in achieving this goal."

Ski Jump Reaches High Marks

Jumpers seemed to like the hill for Sochi 2014.

"It is a good hill, the jump is smooth," said Veshchikova Anastasia in a statement distributed by Sochi 2014. "The weather is warm, but it is very nice that snow has been delivered. It will be OK for the Games, as they will be in February."

Mattel also enjoyed the venue.

"Everything was perfect here in Sochi and I'm already looking forward to the Olympic Games," according to a report on the International Ski Federation's ski jumping website.

Skaters Continue to Praise Ice

Figure skaters are warm to the ice of Iceberg Skating Palace.

Throughout the test event, skaters have heaped glowing praise on the venue. Now that competition is over, little has changed in their attitude.

"I love the Olympic Park, it's beautiful. The day I came, I took so many pictures because I was just so excited," said Patrick Chan of Canada, who ended up finishing third.

"It’s the first time we compete at this arena, the conditions here are very good, and the ice is at the best level," said Yuri Larionov. "We’ve really liked the competition’s organization. It’s very nice that many other competitions will take place there, including Olympic Games."

Putin Attends Test Event

Russian President Vladimir Putin watched the final of the ISU Grand Prix event on Saturday, but he spent little time relaxing, urging organizers to keep up the pace on construction.

"I am pointing out to all my colleagues that the final stage is the most important and the most responsible step for the Games," he was quoted telling reporters.

"We will do everything on time and properly."

Putin watched the figure skating with IOC Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli, Sochi 2014 Coordination Commission Chair Jean-Claude Killy, International Skating Union President Ottavio Cinquanta and Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko.

Written by Ed Hula III.

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