On 6-7 February the Republic of Korea venue hosted two top-class races as part of the 2016 FIS Ski World Cup – with the brand new Jeongseon Alpine Centre making its long-awaited debut.
The event showcased the first downhill ski races ever to be held in the country – and it was hailed as a tremendous success, with the showpiece in two years’ time now looking much closer.
"Today, we have put PyeongChang on the world map for World Cup alpine skiing", said the PyeongChang Organising Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) president Yang-Ho Cho, speaking in a press conference at the end of the first day. "And this is just the beginning. With the IOC and the FIS by my side, I am pleased to say that the journey to the 2018 Games has officially started".
Gunilla Lindberg, chair of the IOC coordination commission for PyeongChang 2018, noted that the event’s smooth running bodes well for the rest of the 28 test events to be held ahead of the Games.
"We’ve been impressed by the delivery of the competition by the local organisations", she said. "As this is the first time Korea is hosting the FIS World Cup downhill, this gives IOC the confidence for the rest of the events".
There were also positive words from FIS president Gian Franco Kasper, who said POCOG had got off to an "excellent start".
Saturday’s downhill race was won by the reigning Olympic super-G champion and downhill bronze medallist Kjetil Jansrud (NOR).
After winning both speed globes last season and leading both trainings held in Jeongseon on Thursday and Friday, Kjtetil Jansrud finally earned his first downhill win of the season. He recorded a time of one minute, 41.38 seconds to see off the challenges of second-placed Dominik Paris (ITA) and Steven Nyman (USA), who finished third.
In a post on his Facebook page, Jansrud heaped praise on the conditions – suggesting that the weekend had gone well from the athletes’ perspectives, too. "I guess you never get a second chance to make a first impression", he wrote. "And PyeongChang just aced it. This will be a fantastic venue".
On Sunday, a Super-G event saw the Swiss athlete Carlo Janka, who won gold in the slalom at Vancouver 2010, edge out Christof Innerhofer (ITA) and Vincent Kiechmayer (AUT) to take first place.
The Jeongseon Alpine Centre was officially opened on 22 January, when a ‘welcome day’ was held to inaugurate the facility.
The PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee’s (POCOG’s) ‘New Horizons’ vision aims to expand winter sports in Asia and transform the local Gangwon province into a new winter sports and tourism destination.
From a logistical point of view, the concept for the 2018 Winter Games is one of the most compact ever seen.The vision for PyeongChang is based on a compact geographical area, split between a coastal and a mountain cluster.
The coastal cluster, centred around the town of Gangneung on the Republic of Korea’s eastern seaboard, will provide the setting for the events on ice (speed skating, figure skating, short track, ice hockey and curling), with the main Olympic Village complex and mountain cluster (comprising the skiing and snowboarding courses and the bobsleigh, luge and skeleton track) located only a 30 minute car journey away.
The Jeongseon Alpine Centre will be a venue for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, hosting the alpine speed events of Downhill, Super-G, and Combined. It will accommodate 6,000 spectators (3,500 seats, 2,500 standing). The technical events of slalom and giant slalom are scheduled for Yongpyong Resort.