(ATR) As the International Ski Federation (FIS) celebrates its 50th Anniversary Alpine World Cup season, it seems fitting that the showcase world championships are returning to the famed Swiss ski resort of St. Moritz.
The Swiss alpine village and World Cup mainstay is hosting the two-week alpine ski showpiece for the first time since 2003 and fourth time in its history.
"I think it is the most beautiful town in the world," said FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper, clearly showing a bias towards his hometown.
With less than 100 days to the Feb. 6-19 championships, preparations continue in the Engadin Valley, however there seems to be little concern considering the resort’s vast event experience and tradition. St. Moritz most recently hosted World Cup Finals in March.
"I’m more than critical - if even the smallest thing happens in my hometown, I’ll feel personally responsible," Kasper said at the recent FIS Forum in Soelden, Austria.
"I’m quite sure the Alpine events will be fine, especially if we have the necessary sun as we normally do in St. Moritz, but let’s wait until mid-February before we praise them," said the Swiss ski chief.
St. Moritz 2017 director Franco Giovanoli gave his assurances for a memorable championship.
"We have a perfect team that has been working together for years and the history pushes us to do even better," Giovanoli said.
It is conceivable that a spectacular event could persuade a Swiss Olympic Taskforce to select the "Olympische Winterspiele 2026 Graubünden und Partner" project – which includes alpine ski and bobsleigh/luge events in St. Moritz – for a 2026 Winter Olympic bid. Four regional candidates are being considered as part of the Swiss Olympic Project 2026. A decision is expected in March.
"On one side it’s a big event, but we’ve shown we’re able to hold big events in our region," Giovanoli told Around the Rings regarding the resort’s capability to host a modern day Olympics.
As alpine ski and sliding events are being proposed for St. Moritz, nearby Lenzerheide has hosted biathlon World Cups, Davos is a regular cross-country race site and Laax has experience with freestyle ski and snowboard events.
"We would be very well-prepared and could run most of the disciplines on top existing infrastructures," Giovanoli said.
Giovanoli is not worried that a St. Moritz candidature for the 2022 Winter Games was voted down in a referendum. The bid fell in March 2013 as citizens in the Swiss Canton of Graubünden voted against by a narrow margin of 53 to 47 percent.
This time around, chances appear promising. The local government of the Surselva district within theGraubünden cantoncame out in support of the bid in the last few days.
Switzerland has twice hosted the Winter Olympics, both times in St. Moritz in 1928 and 1948.
"For our young kids, it’s too abstract, too long ago, and now we’ve had Sochi, Korea and Beijing," Giovanoli said of the Winter Games in Switzerland.
"I think it would be a great chance to bring the Olympic ideals and what the Games are all about, especially to our young people."
The 2026 Winter Olympic host city will be selected at the 132nd IOC Session in 2019.
Written by Brian Pinelli
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