By Daniel Etchells in the Montafon Valley, Austria

Sarah Pirklbauer, transport and logistics manager for the 2015 Winter EYOF, believes  travel times to and from Liechtenstein have been reduced as much as possible ©ITGSarah Pirklbauer, transport and logistics manager for the 2015 Winter European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF), has said the best has been made out of a difficult situation after revealing the plans to minimise athletes' travel times to and from Liechtenstein, co-hosts of the event with Vorarlberg.

The 36 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) present at the seminar of the technical delegates and Chefs de Mission attended a plenary session at the Sporthotel Silvretta Montafon today, providing them with important information about all aspects of the Festival, which will take place from January 25 to 30.

Peter Mennel, chairman of the Board for the 2015 Winter EYOF, admitted yesterday that there were concerns among the NOCs after a tour of the competition venues demonstrated the lengthy transport time from the heart of the Festival, here in Austria's Montafon Valley and the two neighbouring towns of Schruns and Tschagguns, to Liechtenstein. 

Clearly aware of the scepticism, Pirklbauer opened her individual session on "transport, arrival and departures and logistics" by jokingly suggesting she had just been informed that the Montafon Valley and Liechtenstein had moved closer together by one inch geographically. 

The Austrian proceeded to explain how the shuttle bus route to Liechtenstein, referred to as route B, had been divided into two separate routes, B1 and B2, to save approximately 20 minutes of travel time. 

Before heading to Liechtenstein, the B1 route will serve the cluster of hotels in the Austrian villages of Partenen and Gaschurn, and the municipality of St Gallenkirch, while the B2 route will collect all athletes within Schruns, Tschagguns and fellow town Vandans. 

The estimated journey time ranges from a minimum of one hour 30 minutes to a maximum of two hours 15 minutes, however, the transport and logistics team are aiming to save further minutes by making use of bus lanes at the border cross in Feldkirch, where there is a lot of traffic. 

Liechtenstein is due to host Alpine skiing in the village of Malbun and cross country skiing in the town of Steg.

Pirklbauer believes the first hosting of an EYOF across two countries was always destined to be a testing assignment from the outset.

The map shows the shuttle bus service for venues outside the Montafon Valley ©ITGThe map shows the shuttle bus service for venues outside the Montafon Valley ©ITG

"I think we've made the best out of a difficult situation," she told insidethegames, after concluding her presentation for the NOCs. 

"It can't be forgotten that we're the first organisers to place the event in two different countries, so from the beginning it was a challenging situation to connect two countries.

"Even though they border each other, the travel distances are long.

"We knew that and I think we've done our best so far.

"On the positive side, I hope the athletes can get more out of the cultural exchange that we have within two countries."

Sarah Gosling, the two-time Olympic gold medallist in sailing who is Chef de Mission of Great Britain, acknowledges the travel times are not ideal but insists Team GB will do all they can to work around them.

"I think for us, it will be about planning and preparation," she said.

"Whatever we can do to warn our teams and our athletes and whatever we can do in terms of helping them transport their kit, we will do.

"Stuff that makes it easier, so they don't have to worry about it."

Örvar Ólafsson, project manager at the NOC of Iceland, added: "We'll be using the official transport so we'll just have to rely on that.

"We're putting our trust in the organisers to do it in the most convenient way for us and for all the teams. 

"We haven't got the finalised schedule for the buses.   

"We don't really know yet if it will fit our purposes or not and we have to look into it when we get closer to the Festival.

"They have a challenge in front of them but I have faith in them.

"I think they will do their best."
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