19 Aug 2016 - 19:21
Georgia’s popular Bakuriani winter resort is being returned to its former glory with plans to restore and transform its three dilapidated ski jumps to Olympic standard.
Plans to develop the ski jumps at Bakuriani, regarded as an ex-Soviet Davos, have been created and presented by a local ski jump legend and an International Ski Federation (FIS) high official who both want to see the area rejuvenated and restored.
Today the Georgian Government revealed the three ski jumps would be restored to meet Olympic standards within the next five years.
The Government invited Walter Hofer, head of the International Ski Federation (FIS) Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined, to visit Bakuriani and offer specific advice about how to develop the area, particularly the ski jumps.
Hofer visited Bakuriani yesterday and met 82-year-old world legend Koba Tsakadze, who ranked 33rd on the list of world’s best ski jumpers of all time. Tsakadze was one of the best ski jumpers of his era and was instrumental in developing the aerodynamic compact style that is standard today in ski jumping, in which the jumper leans forward out over his skis while keeping his arms down - just like an eagle does when landing.
At 82 years of age, Tsakadze is still healthy and strong and lives in his native Bakuriani.
I am very happy that I had the chance to visit Bakuriani yesterday. Bakuriani is, in ski jumping, one of the most famous places worldwide and a legend still lives there - Koba Tsakadze. I saw him yesterday,” said Hofer.
We visited the old ski jump facilities and we would like to convince the Government to renovate them, to build up a new facility for our youth – for our male and female jumpers – so [Georgia] can be prepared for international competitions,” he added.
In the mid-term range of three to five years we hope to see an international field of ski jumping,” Hofer stated.
The first ski jump in Georgia (measuring 40km long) was built in Bakuriani in 1935. That same year a special program was launched that taught young people to ski jump.
Thirty-four years later, in 1969 the complex in Bakuriani was completely rebuilt.
In place of the old 40km ski jump, four new hills (K115, K90, K70 and K45) were built. From 1971 to 1980 Bakuraiani was regarded as a top winter sports destination and hosted various international ski jumping competitions.
Ski jump by Koba Tsakadze.
After 1980 ski jumping at Bakuriani virtually ceased and no competitions were held until 2001 when the Georgian Ski Jumping Championships were held on the K45 slope. All ski jumpers competing were trained by Tsakadze, and athlete Levan Kosanashvili was declared the winner.
The K45 slope was used again in 2011 when local ski jumpers resumed training there.
Three years ago Georgian authorities announced there were plans to restore the infrastructure at Bakuriani to meet Olympic standard ski jumps. Since then the project has been developing but no visible progress has been made.
However new life was injected into the project by Hofer’s visit.
This week Hofer presented his plans on developing the ski jumping infrastructure at Bakuriani to Georgia’s Ministry of Economy, the Mountain Resorts Development Company and Georgia’s Ski Federation – three entities that are involved in developing the Bakuriani winter resort.