Note: Around the Rings spoke with Kasper prior to Russian skier Maria Komissarova's announcement that her accident in Sochi left her paralyzed. ATR has reached out to the International Ski Federation for comment and will provide that reaction as soon as it is available.
International Ski Federation (FIS) president Gian Franco Kasper tells Around the Rings that the Sochi 2014 Games were a great success, admitting that he was even quite surprised regarding some aspects.
Forty-nine of the 98 medal events fell under the auspices of FIS, including nine of the 12 events making their Olympic debut in Sochi.
"We had excellent Olympic Games. The Russians did an outstanding job. There’s no question," Kasper told ATR. "We knew that the venues and sport aspect would be OK from our test events, but even the logistics and transportation around the Olympics worked very well."
Kasper thought that the nine new FIS events added to the Olympic program - four freestyle skiing, four snowboarding, and ladies’ ski jumping - were well received.
"I think the new events are a little more joyful and youthful," Kasper said. "I don’t know if it will be the same success over the next four years, but at least here, it brought a new flavor to the Games so we are quite happy with the success."
Kasper, who said at the FIS Alpine World Cup opener in Soelden, Austria last October that he was very concerned that the atmosphere at ski and snowboard events in Sochi would be lacking, admitted he was pleasantly surprised.
The b"If the Russians had a chance or at least participated, you automatically had a good atmosphere, but in most of the events the Russians were not really present so that made it difficult," Kasper said. "It was not as bad as I expected."
"We were afraid we would not see too many people walking around, and even here in the Rosa Khutor village in the afternoon, there were a lot of people around, so it was better than we expected," Kasper said.
Kasper, who has served as an IOC member since 2000 and also on the Sochi 2014 Coordination Commission, said that the presence of security and soldiers at venues was not overwhelming.
"I saw less security than in London, when you felt it more," said Kasper, referring to the 2012 Summer Games. "Here, there was a lot of security, of course.
"I even saw something incredible: Russian policeman and soldiers smiling at you. This is quite unique. Of course, they were educated in this way, but I think this was typical of these Games."
In regards to what could have been done better, Kasper replied, "The political part should have probably been better."
Although there were some minor scheduling changes to mountain events due to weather, Kasper said it could have been considerably worse.
"It is often bad weather here in Sochi, but out of the 16 days, we had only one heavy day with rain and another day a little bit," he said.
"Let’s be honest: we got lucky."
Lastly, the 69-year-old FIS chief addressed the question that everyone seems to be wondering – what will the legacy of these Sochi 2014 Games be?
"We always think in the same way: the last ones were the best ones and you cannot do it in a better way. After Beijing, people said it would be impossible, but then London was better.
"I think it’s a normal development; it shouldn’t be bigger, but better. I don’t know what could be better compared to here, but of course, things change."
Written by Brian Pinelli
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