Olympic test events the “key to getting it right”
According to Dmitry Chernyshenko, the President of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee, the host city’s comprehensive series of test events played an integral role in ensuring the successful staging of this year’s Olympic Winter Games.
“The biggest challenge we have faced is making the transition from the preparation stage to operational readiness,” explains Chernyshenko. “The test events programme has helped us to do that and to iron out any creases that there may be in terms of venues and procedures before the actual Games. Testing is the key to getting it right and we worked hard on our test events programme.”
During the 2012/13 winter season alone, Sochi hosted a record 70 international and national competitions in each of Olympic and Paralympic sports, with more than 3000 competitors, approximately 5000 volunteers, over 1500 media representatives and roughly 130,000 spectators visiting venues during the season.
The events enabled the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee to successfully test out all of the functions and services at the different venues, providing Games-time operations staff with key experience ahead of the 2014 Winter Games.
Games volunteers were also able to work alongside the competition organisers at the test events, giving them the opportunity to fully prepare for the 2014 Games and share their experiences with their colleagues from the 26 Sochi 2014 Volunteer Centres throughout Russia.
Events during the 2012/13 season included the FIBT Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup, the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup, the ISU Single Distance Speed Skating World Championships, the World Junior Curling Championships and the Under-18 Ice Hockey World Championships.
And those athletes competing in the events seemed suitably impressed by their experiences.
“The ice conditions are the best they could be,” said two-time Olympic speed skating champion Shani Davis, of the USA, after winning bronze in the men’s 1,000m at the ISU Single Distance Speed Skating World Championships. “The staff, location and venue are great. It's a beautiful ice arena, which reminds me a lot of Torino [in 2006].”
Canadian skeleton athlete John Fairbairn was also impressed after competing in the FIBT World Cup.
“I really like the track, it’s a very technical, tricky track,” he said. “I think it is going to make a really great race in a year. The venue is beautiful, it’s good for the athletes; there is an awesome warm-up area at the top.”
Following the conclusion of the test events, Chernyshenko said he was also happy with the efforts of the Organising Committee and was pleased with the positive feedback his team received.
“We are very pleased with results,” he said at the time. “The test competitions have passed successfully, which was proven by positive feedback from many athletes, coaches, international federations’ representatives, IOC, IPC and spectators. We have efficiently overcome all the trials and can now say with confidence that we are ready to host the Games even in the most challenging conditions.”
Now the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee will be looking to put all that experience to good use as the Olympic competitions get underway on 6 February.