The International training week for luge has begun at the Sanki Sliding Center in Sochi, marking the opening of the international 2012-2013 season and preceding a stage of the World Cup taking place on the track in February 2013. Over 130 luge athletes from 26 countries around the world will be in Sochi to gain a first-hand experience of the unique Sochi 2014 luge and bobsleigh track.
Hosted by the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, the event will enable the team managing the luge events at Games time to fully test the new venue and develop strong cooperation within the team that will be there during the Games.
The International Training Week in Sochi does not take the form of a sports competition, but makes the venue available and open to all athletes wishing to try out the Sliding Center. The world leaders in this sport - Germany, Italy, Austria, Canada and Latvia - and representatives of the other countries taking part have been divided into four training groups to ensure that all the athletes have equal opportunities and time on the track.
The centralised services for athletes during the International Training Week, such as arrivals and departures, transport, catering, communications and weather forecast, are being coordinated by the Test Events Operations Center situated in Krasnaya Polyana. All the functional areas of activity that need to be operational at the at the Games-time are being put through full-scale testing, given that the staff in the Operations Centre includes employees of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee and representatives of Olympstroy, the Krasnodar Region and Sochi Administration as well as experts in the fields of medicine, transport and security.
Olympstroy has played a vital role in the test event preparations, being responsible for luge and bobsleigh track operation. The Krasnodar region authorities are providing support for the many volunteers on the ground helping to deliver the event. The Tetra multi-channel communications system is being tested for the very first time at the event and has been provided with support from the Russian Ministry of Communications and Media.
In total, there will be more than 300 people involved in organizing the International Training Week. Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee's team includes highly-qualified experts, athletes with considerable experience and the heads of luge and bobsleigh competitions: Kirill Serikov, a member of Russia's Olympic luge team at the 2006 Games in Turin, and Normunds Kotans, who has competed in stages of the European Cup and junior world champions and been in the Latvian national bobsleigh team for five years.
This team will be tasked with successfully hosting of the Olympic competitions themselves, as well as the international test events.
The President of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko, commented:
"Today’s event sees the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee ramp up the testing of the Olympic services facilities and services into top gear. This is a complex process, given it demands the involvement of a large number of people from across several organizations and departments.
It is the very first time that such a significant number of competitions are being held at a recently constructed venue, so strong teamwork with all the various bodies working in unison will be vital to deliver the important test successfully.
We are clear that the best international luge athletes gathering in Sochi bring with it an additional responsibility, with our entire team wanting to prove we are as prepared as possible and working effectively together to deliver the event to the highest standards."
The first vice president of Olympstroy, Hamit Mavliyarov, said:
"The track is a unique construction in technical terms, built using a great deal of expertise given its setting in difficult geological surroundings. Scientists, designers, engineers and builders were involved in the work to create the challenging yet safe track being tested today. The test event is essential to allow us to learn both the technical and organizational amendments we may need to make and ensure we deliver them for Games-time.
This is a highly significant event for our learning, a big test for all of us that we are taking very seriously. The feedback on the ice surface has been very good; while overall we’re delighted that the athletes are so keen to train here. The doors are open, we delivered the ice and the track is ready - it is time to use it!"
The technical delegate from the International Luge Federation (FIL), Bjorn Dirdal, said:
"We are pleased to be opening the new 2012-2013 competitive luge season with the start of the International Training Week in Sochi. It is extremely symbolic that this pre-Olympic season is commencing in the city that's going to host the Olympic Winter Games in 2014 and is very exciting for all the athletes taking part.
I've already seen with my own eyes the high levels of enthusiastic and professionalism shown by the staff at the Sanki Sliding Center. The luge and bobsleigh track is ready to host international competitions of the very highest standard. I'm confident that the International Training Week will give the luge athletes from around the world a wonderful opportunity to experience what the track is like ahead of returning to Sochi for the World Cup and the Olympic Games in 2014 to write an exciting new chapter in the history of international luge sport."
Notes to the Editor
The Sanki Sliding Center in Sochi is the first track in Russia for international standard competitions, and it is the only track in the world that has three upward slopes. There are no more than 20 such slopes throughout the whole world. The Olympic track runs through the northern slope of the Aibga Ridge, which is protected against direct sunlight, in the village of Krasnaya Polyana. The total length of the track is 1814 meters, 314 meters of which is the braking zone. The maximum speed is 135 km/hr. The track reflects, to the greatest possible extent, the existing relief in the locality, with its highest point measuring 836 meters above sea level and its low point at the 704 meter mark. The athletes' security is ensured by a radius of turns and three upward slopes, which help to put the brakes on the competitors' speed.