POSTED: February 17th 2011

Solanum tuberosum: Latin connection which could be 2018 key for Koreans

Yesterday in PyeongChang, the full moon festival . . . in 2018 maybe the Olympic torch / lake images
Yesterday in PyeongChang, the full moon festival . . . in 2018 maybe the Olympic torch / lake images

Cross-country course at Alpensia / lake images
Cross-country course at Alpensia / lake images

KEIR RADNEDGE in PyeongChang / Sports Features Communications

PYEONGCHANG, Feb 17: If you want the Winter Olympics, first find a potato field. This seems to be the unusual recipe for not only growing but harvesting Games success.

Sochi’s main stadium for 2014 is being built at the expense of space for the humble potato (Latin name: solanum tuberosum) and the same is true of PyeongChang’s biathlon stadium.

PyeongChang’s third successive bid to bring the winter Games to South Korea for the first time in 2018 represents a major philosophical contrast for members of the International Olympic Committee when they vote in Durban on July 6.

The choice matches Europe’s naturally-set proposals from Annecy and Munich against the competition-dictated PyeongChang set-up. Evolution against development.

The Alpensia resort at PyeongChang illustrates the latter concept perfectly. The ski-jump stadium would also stage the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2018 Games. The stadium incorporates main jumps with three junior jumps alongside. It can also be used for summer jumping competitions and it is hoped to have a football club based in the stadium.

Shuttle system

Current capacity of the bowl, cut into the mountain rock on one flank, looks around 5,000 at the most - though it was described to this writer as 15,000. If PyeongChang wins the Games vote capacity would be increased from whatever it really is now to just over 54,000.

‘Ordinary’ spectators would be brought in by shuttle bus from bus and car parks at the outer security perimeter of the resort. VIPs – in a ‘them and us’ scenario - would be brought not only by bus but also in official cars. Competitors waiting to join the ceremonies would be ‘kettled’ in the nearby biathlon stadium which is a seven-minute walk away, across the road and around a corner.

This venue was laid down on a potato field after the sport grew increasingly popular in South Korea over the last decade. Approval for Olympic-class events was granted by the international federation in 2008.

Nami Kim, a vice-president of the International Biathlon Union, said that the sport’s sharp progress could be ascribed to two factors. Firstly, it provided a opportunity for participants to put their national service arms training to recreational use; secondly, she said: “It was something else sporting which visitors could do at popular times when the ski slopes are very busy.”

International approval

Over the road is the cross-country trail has been laid out in deliberate fashion in front of a main stand (capacity around 3,500). Again, spectator capacity would be increased in significant, albeit temporary, fashion if PyeongChang were to win the Games. This venue has also been approved for international competition.

Slalom and giant slalom would be at Yongpyong - oldest, most scenic and traditional of  the proposed venues - while freestyle skiing would be at the Phoenix Park resort which is, effectively, a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics of which IOC member Lee Kun-hee is chairman.

Reviewing the evaluation thus far, he was reported as saying the commission had showed “a more positive response” than during the 2014 process in which PyeongChang lost out to Sochi.

Keywords · PyeongChang · 2018 Winter Olympics · IOC · evaluation commission · Samsung · Lee

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