Author: Patrick Lang
The main goals of members of the board of GSF and leaders of Georgian Government related to the visit of top FIS officials in Georgia have been totally reached in my opinion.
DAY 1. Meetings in Tbilisi.
The long visit to the office of the PM following a nice get-together at the Radisson Blu Hotel between GSF delegation and FIS Officials was a great success. The long and articulated speeches of the PM and the Minister of Sports, the various very positive exchanges between main participants of that meeting and the relaxed atmosphere greatly impressed the FIS visitors as they confirmed their determination to strongly support the bid and the future World Championships on all levels – on the human point of view as well as technically and financially.
During one of his interventions, PM even presented himself as sort of ‘project manager’ of that candidature and the promotion of Georgia in matter of tourism and helping major sports events.
After a relaxed lunch on the terrace of the Radisson Blu, another informative meeting took place in the hotel that was also attended by key players in the Georgian Freestyle / Snowboard Scene including Levan Metreveli and representatives of Mountain Resort Development Company.
Management of MRDC lead by its director Mr. Sandro Onoprishvili first presented the latest achievements of the company and its next goals in leading areas such as Gudauri and Bakuriani that include a series of news lifts in both resorts.
FIS presented its organization and its recent successful operations in China – especially an important agreement with Ali Sport to introduce 300 million Chinese to skiing and winter sports activities.
Levan Metreveli presented the Freestyle activities in Georgia and the strong support which important international sports events are able to create among the local population and volunteers. Apparently the recent U20 Rugby World Championships attracted around 250 volunteers during that successful 2-week-event. Mr. Metreveli is optimistic about the possibility to get the help of + 750 volunteers for a Freestyle and Snowboard World Championships including a third of them able to work on the slope.
The dinner hold later on in the evening in a place above the city was attended by FIS Officials, the heads of GSF and MRDC as well as Mr. Ramishvili, former president of GSF and strong supporter of the Borjomi / Bakuriani 2023 Project.
In her goodbye speech to the attendees, FIS Secretary General warmly wished to thank again her Georgian hosts and complimented them for their outstanding hospitality and strong support for winter sports.
DAY 2 – Travel to Gudauri and Borjomi/Gudauri.
On the second day of the visit of FIS to Georgia, Freestyle race director Joe Fitzgerald travelled to Gudauri and Borjomi/ Bakuriani along GSF President Zurab Kostava, Georgia’s Freestyle Expert Levan Metreveli and GSF VP Patrick Lang. They were first welcomed at Gudauri by representatives of MRDC which showed them the pre-selected sites for a snow-park and possible ski-cross and snowboard racing. They took a gondola up to the intermediate station and toured the slopes until finding what Mr. Fitzgerald considered as an excellent site for ski-cross and snowboard activities including a nice space for a future snow-park.
The extensive study made by Canadian company Ecosign on Gudauri strongly contributed to the success of the survey and the comprehension of the resort by FIS Official Fitzgerald who greatly appreciated the area and its potential development. He was also pleased to discover the capacity and the comfort of the main Hotel in the place – the Marco Polo which can host around 300 guests.
After a quick trip to Borjomi the group visited the two leading hotel in the town below Bakuriani – the Rixos Borjomi Spa and the Crowne Plaza. They could perfectly welcome host VIPs and important Executives during a major FIS event at Bakuriani. There is even a landing spot for helicopter at the Rixos.
After arriving at Bakuriani we drove directly meet other representatives of MRDC at the Kokhta site to have a look at the future Rooms Hotel built nearby the lifts and the possible sites for various events such as the moguls above the intermediate station and eventually snowboard or slope style on the bottom.
Mr. Fitzgerald was enchanted by the potential of that part of Kokhta for eventual mogul events which would only require small adaptation on the ground – mostly cutting a very few trees on the right side of the slope (looking up). “This site could host a World Cup event next winter,” was one of his comments. Man-made-snow facilities are supposed to be soon placed there.
More discussions and technical exchanges also took place in the evening in company of Mr. David Natadze who presented some of the improvements planned in the resort in matter of hospitality.
In the next decade, the resort should be upgraded to host over 10,000 visitors a day and received 30,000 skiers a day on all the lifts soon to be built on the slopes of the resort. In recent years, number of skiers coming to Bakuriani seemed to have increased by over 30% thanks mostly to the new lifts built in the Kokhta-Mitarbi part of the resort.
On the next day our group was lead by Mr. Tazo Gamtsenlidze the local top coordinator of MRDC in the area in company of two of his assistants. We first visited a new part of lower Didveli where a very interesting development has been studied and planned by Mr. Sandro Onoporishvili and his crew.
This slope situated on the ‘left’ side of Didveli – or on its eastern part – could play an important role in relating the upper part of the site to the rest of the resort – including possibly Kokhta in future years in case of difficult wind condition which may stop the Leitner Gondolas. It’s only a few minute-drive away for the departure of the Leitner gondola with enough space for possible parking lots.
It’s a vast area with smooth slope at the end and some steeper part when you start to move up. Two lifts could be constructed there including a shorter one for the lower part that could fit to the needs of new and younger skiers and/or freestyle skiers.
Depending on the needs and the choices, many freestyle / Snowboard / Ski-cross / Half-pipe events could be hold on that part of the area that could also perfectly fit to a larger snow-park that could potentially also attract younger skiers.
Snow conditions are mostly excellent there thanks to favorable winds – and snow-making is also planned there.
Moving up to Didveli’s intermediate station, the inspection group also discovered the possibilities of that technically demanding part of the resort. In past years competitions in various disciplines as ski-cross already took place on those slopes where a large amount of specialties could be situated including half-pipe in a small canyon located a few hundred meters from the middle stations. The wind and snow conditions are favorable in the later part of the season – mostly end of February / early March. Those slopes also provide enough length and vertical drops to host major events.
After visiting those slope, the group walk down the lower part of the Didveli area to check on the feasibility of establishing a ski-cross run that would end nearby the base of the slope. One of the runs for tourists also benefits from a limelight installation.
According to Mr. Fitzgerald the terrain could eventually host ski-cross competitions taking in consideration the length and the vertical drop of those runs which would require some work to be perfectly fit – including making it larger in some part nearby the final section. One of the problems may be the fact to disturb the flow of tourists skiing down the mountain to reach the bottom of the course.
The MRDC employees also showed an interesting part of the town that could be used for some spectacular events as big air or aerials. It’s located in the former site of the jumping facility used until the mid 1980s to train the teams in the Soviet Era.
The jumping are in bad shape and need to be reconstructed according to modern parameters – yet the base of the site could be adapted to host big air / aerials competitions and create an exciting event for spectators and visitors.
There is also a small site near the school/center of the town where a small jumping facility is still in place as well as an old lift out of use. Even though the terrain is private, it would represent an excellent site to attract young skiers after class.
After lunch, Mr, Fitzgerald made a small presentation to the crew and described his vision to organize and attractive event and to plan efficient facilities for future use based on his experience from the last World Championships.
He strongly recommended creating a series of ‘clusters’ to facilitate the broadcasting of the competitions and the building of various facilities including stands for spectators.
According to his point of view, both Gudauri and Borjomi/Bakuriani could host major Freestyle / Snowboard events as the technical specifications of the slopes are favorable.
He recommended to soon start organize national competitions in both places followed afterwards by FIS events then Europa Cup and World Cup races to check the slopes and train the local volunteers and officials. It could be possible to quickly add international competitions to the coming and next calendar. His middle and long term objective is to soon establish a Middle-Asian and Far Asian tour for freestyle/snowboard competitions since this part of the world seems ready and interested for it.
His motto is: “Major Freestyle and Snowboard Events’ are possible in Georgia”.
NEXT STEP TO BE DISCUSSED DEPENDING ON FINAL REPORT OF MR. FITZGERALD.
Possibly: establishing “Bid Committee” and start structure to organized first national and international competitions in 2017/18. A Mogul Exhibition event could be hold in December 17/ February 18 at Kohkta.
DAY 3 .Various meetings in Hotel Blu Radisson with members of the board of GSF about planning next steps.
On April 3, 12:00, Zurab Kostava, president of the ski federation of Georgia held a summary press conference in the hotel "Radisson". Within the framework of the event IDS Borjomi signed a memorandum on cooperation with Georgia. According to the memorandum, the world famous mineral water brand "Borjomi" will provide Georgia's ski federation for three years.The event was attended by Sports and Youth Minister Tariel Khechikashvili and founder of the company "Silknet" Giorgi Ramishvili, along with the heads of the ski federation and company IDS Borjomi. The president of the ski federation of Georgia summarized the past season in the press conference. It is worth mentioning that the Georgian Cup of 2017 was held in four stages in Mestia, Bakuriani, Goderdzi Pass and Gudauri with the support of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, General Sponsor Silknet, Company Borjomi and Mountain Resorts Development Company. The fourth phase of the Georgia Cup 2017 was held in Gudauri on March 24-26. Members of Georgian skiing team participated in the international races and participated in the World Championship of St. Moritz. Therefore, it was not possible to take regular roles in the Georgian Cup.The owners of this year's Cup of Georgia in Gudauri became sportsmen's of Tbilisi St. Giorgi School, Bakuriani, Mestia and Adjara Sports School.
The Ski Federation of Ireland hosted the Small Evolving Ski Nations (SES) Assembly in Dublin from 28th-30th April 2017.
17 member nations of SES attended the Assembly with Presidents and Secretary Generals from: Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Cyprus, Georgia, Hungary, Ireland, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Morocco, Montenegro, Monaco, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, San Marino and South Africa. A warm welcome was extended to FIS Secretary General, Sarah Lewis who also attended.
On Friday 28th April a Reception was held to welcome all member nations. Attendees included representatives from the Government Agency Sport Ireland, Paul McDermott and the Irish Olympic Committee, Rob Johnson.
On Saturday, 29th April, the SES AGM was held and a new committee was elected. The newly elected Executive Board members are: President, Milan Bozic, SRB: Vice President, Pedro Farromba, POR: Secretary General, Shane O’Connor, IRL: Treasurer, Freddy Kairouz, Lebanon and Legal Matters, Jelena Dojcinovic, BIH.
The guest speaker at the SES meeting was David Carrigy, Head of Development and International Relations of World Rugby. He interacted with the members and presented their “Get Into Rugby” programme for developing the sport, which showed a number of synergies between the World Rugby and FIS activities.
Outgoing committee members Paul Michaelides, President, Dan Mihoc, Vice-President and Ken Hicks, Secretary were honoured at a SES Dinner at the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin.
On Sunday morning a tour was arranged to the Guinness Storehouse and in the afternoon some of the delegates visited the Dry Ski Slope operated by the Ski Club of Ireland.