Pyeongchang 2018 have received widespread praise from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) following the conclusion of the opening day of the first of 28 test events for the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre.
Concerns had been expressed in the build-up to the International Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine Skiing World Cup over the readiness of the venue for the competition, which began today and is due to conclude tomorrow.
These largely centred on fears over the construction of a gondola, the seating compartment on a ski lift, but FIS President and IOC member Gian-Franco Kasper, a member of the Pyeongchang 2018 Coordination Commission, claimed the World Cup event has made them “very optimistic about the whole preparation for the Olympic Games”.
Kasper admitted they had originally been unsure as to whether organisers would be able to deliver the first test event as planned and heralded the tireless construction work which has gone on at the venue to ensure it was ready to host the competition.
“Late November and the beginning of December, we really had doubts that they would be ready to deliver this FIS World Cup in Korea on time this year,” he said.
“We had no plan B and we were very worried.
“But the work done by the Organising Committee and by each individual was enormous.
“They worked 24 hours [a day], seven days a week, and that was really the only way to deliver.”
Pyeongchang 2018 Coordination Commission chair Gunilla Lindberg was also pleased with what she had seen at the test event, the first-ever Alpine Skiing World Cup to take place in South Korea.
She gave the competition “100 points” out of 100.
“Normally in sports it's very difficult to reach a perfect number, but I'd actually give (the Jeongseon event) 100 points,” the Swede, a member of the IOC's ruling Executive Board, said.
“We've just witnessed an exciting competition on a fabulous downhill course.
“I am impressed by the delivery of the local organisers, considering the size and complexity of the event.
“This gives us confidence in the next test events and delivery of the Olympics.”
The downhill race at the test event was won by Norwegian veteran Kjetil Jansrud, the super-G Olympic champion, as he secured his first victory of the season, powering home in a time of 1min 41.38sec.
Italy’s Dominik Paris claimed the silver medal, 0.20 seconds adrift, while American Steven Nyman rounded off the podium by securing bronze.
The result moved Jansrud, who had also praised the course following a training run earlier this week, into fourth place on the overall World Cup standings on 735 points.
Four-time world champion Marcel Hirscher of Austria is the current leader on 969 points.
The event at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre is scheduled to continue tomorrow with a men’s super-G race.