Following the success of Sochi 2014, attention has now switched to PyeongChang, which will host the next edition of the Olympic Winter Games in 2018. And like Sochi, the Korean host city is aiming to use the Games as a catalyst to create long-term legacies that will benefit future generations.
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.
"In Asia, winter sports are relatively undeveloped. But recently these sports and related industries have developed dramatically," explains Kim Jin-Sun, President and CEO of POCOG. “Our vision is very clear: new horizons, developing industries, building a hub of winter sports in Gangwon province.”
To achieve this vision, several new winter sports facilities will be built for the Games – including those that will stage figure skating, ice hockey, Alpine speed events, speed skating, luge, bobsleigh and skeleton events – while existing venues will also be used, such as the Gangneung Indoor Ice Rink (curling), Bokwang Phoenix Park (freestyle skiing and snowboard) and the Yongpyong Ski Resort, home to the slalom and giant slalom events, which is the largest ski and snowboard resort in Korea.
The Alpensia Ski Jumping Stadium, meanwhile, is also already operational, having been built as a legacy of PyeongChang’s previous unsuccessful bids for the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
POCOG hopes that each of the new sports facilities built for the 2018 Winter Games will provide similar legacies.
"Post-Games use is very important for POCOG,” says Kim. “We are developing various legacy plans. Most of the snow venues are privately owned and will be used as resorts and for sports. The indoor venues will be converted into gyms, school gyms, convention centres and leisure centres for the public."
And the Republic of Korea’s winter sports athletes are already looking forward to the benefits of having new, world-class facilities on their doorstep.
"Currently, we train overseas for six months of the year," says luger Cho Jung Myung, who competed in the Sochi 2014 doubles event with partner Park Jinyong. "Before that we trained on the road, down a hill. But with the new track in PyeongChang we can expand the team, train a lot, train our technique and start planning for gold.”