Skating, Skiing Chiefs on 2018 Candidates

(ATR) The federation presidents for skating and skiing tell Around the Rings the presence of three strong candidates in the race for the 2018 Winter Olympics is a major step forward for the IOC.

(ATR) The federation presidents for skating and skiing tell Around the Rings the presence of three strong candidates in the race for the 2018 Winter Olympics is a major step forward for the IOC.

ATR spoke with each of the seven winter sports heads earlier this year about their respective world championships but also made sure to ask about the decision facing IOC members next week in Durban.

In this third and final installment, Ottavio Cinquanta of the International Skating Union (ISU) and Gian-Franco Kasper of the International Ski Federation (FIS) give their takes on the bids, their proposed venues and the promise they offer for the growth of winter sport.

SKATING

Around the Rings: What is your federation looking for in the bids from Annecy, Munich and PyeongChang?

Ottavio Cinquanta: We are going on the 6th of July to vote upon three candidates: Annecy, Munich and PyeongChang. Two from Europe, one from Asia, and it will be a big fight, you know.

I think that all three could result in a positive step for the development of winter sport. But, of course, as usual, there’s only one winner. The other two, they go home.

I do not know because we, IOC members, we have to vote. We are those deciding upon this candidacy, but we are not permitted to investigate, to be too much active in the area of evaluation, investigation.

The policy of the IOC is to keep those having the right to vote in a very independent position. And therefore, maybe you know better than me.

ATR: Have you visited the bid cities and their proposed venues?

OC: Well, I have been in Annecy, and I have been in Munich because, of course, during my long career I have had the possibility to be in all these places.

I have to admit all three are in good position because even Korea, they are good. I was there years ago. They have snow, they are motivated and they want to be part of the winter sport activity. Annecy is also very very motivated. And Munich doesn’t need to be presented because everybody knows Munich.

ATR: Will the ISU make official inspections of the venues?

OC: No, because inspections are not permitted. We have been informed. We have been asked to list our questions and our advice, so we did with everybody. The visits, as you know, are not permitted.

ATR: What do you like about the bids’ proposals for skiing?

OC: Of the three countries, it depends.

For figure skating, maybe France is now a bit more active than the other countries, but in speed skating Germany is stronger than France. And in short track Korea is by far the number one in the world.

That means that the winner – the country and city receiving the Games – will for sure be motivated to improve the other sectors. As far as our sport is concerned, we are in a good position because at a minimum we will have a better situation in one or two of the three branches.

ATR: Have you heard from any skaters about their 2018 preferences?

OC: If you interview a speedskater, you have a response. If you put the question to a short-tracker, you have another reaction. If you ask a figure skater, you have a different one. It depends. It depends.

Each of the three candidates has a different approach. They are strong, but they are not strong in all the ISU sport disciplines. They are strong in one or two, but they miss maybe the third one.

SKIING

ATR: What is your federation looking for in the bids from Annecy, Munich and PyeongChang?

Gian-Franco Kasper: Well, I think in principle we can be quite happy. We have three candidates that are capable of carrying out the Games, so this is a big step forward. We shouldn’t have a complete flop in there.

Now, which one will be elected for political or for technical reasons? That’s a completely different story. That’s up to the IOC members, but for us I would say all three are acceptable.

ATR: Have you visited the bid cities and their proposed venues?

GK: I can’t tell you how often.

Take for instance the Munich bid with Garmisch – we have our world championships there. We have had World Cups in Korea, and of course we have five or six different World Cups every year in France. So we really know all the venues by heart with exception of those things which will be reallynewly built, but there’s so few like the halfpipe in France or the downhill course in Korea.

ATR: What concerns do you have about the various 2018 venues?

GK: Each of them has its negative sides or problems. Korea has, of course, its own neighbors: the North Koreans. You never know what happens there. Munich has its local farmers, and Annecy didn’t start too well and has now to follow as fast as possible.

ATR: Is it more important to bring the Olympics to a country that doesn’t necessarily have a long history and familiarity with skiing or to stage the Games in a country where the sport is already entrenched?

GK: This is always the basic question we have with our world championships. Shall we help in a so-called new or underdeveloped area to build up skiing, or shall we go to a country where our sport will just be a real party, a real skiing festival?

The opinions are always divided there. If you look at the Olympics, Sochi for sure is a new area of development, and the same would have been true in Korea if you think back to the last decision of the IOC with Austria and Salzburg involved. Austria would not have needed any development in skiing but would have been an immense skiing party, so that’s really a question of how you personally take it.

We have the same thing every time with our own world championships. Shall we make development help, or shall we just use the existing facilities to have a big party, a big party in the serious way?

ATR: Have you heard from any skiers about their 2018 preferences?

GK: No, because the skiers want to first ski the courses and see the snow conditions and then decide for what they are. That’s quite normal, and that changes.

I’m quite sure if you would ask all the top athletes, for instance the downhillers, they would give you exactly those favorite courses where they have made their best results, and those things can change.

And in 2018, we’ll probably have a completely new generation anyhow.

Interviews conducted by Matthew Grayson.