There are only a few days to go before the biggest event of the year of the Georgian sports calendar - the Freestyle Ski, Snowboard and Freeski World Championships - launches on Thursday at the winter resort of Bakuriani. Preparations for the occasion are in the final stage, with international specialists of competition tracks on site and the artificial snowmaking system of the location producing snow daily for the event. Accreditation centres have been opened on site to enable arriving athletes and visitors to register, while media centres, technical spaces and food facilities are being equipped with the necessary inventory.
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Saturday highlighted the “large-scale” infrastructure efforts carried out for the event under the Government while inspecting the preparations. He stressed the “most modern” systems had been installed and “unique infrastructure” set up in Bakuriani, including three new cable cars, a new 30-km snowmaking system, and additional six new tracks, under a ₾270 million (about $101 mln) budget.
Photo: Government's press office.
Set to run in the town located in central Georgia between February 16 and March 5, the tournament will host up to 700 athletes from 42 countries on the main trails of Didveli and Kokhta mountains, where they will compete across seven disciplines.
Zurab Kostava, the Chairman of the Organising Committee of the tournament and the President of the Georgian Ski Federation, told agenda.ge it was a source of “much pride for any country” to host such “prestigious and large-scale” event. Preparations for the Championships have been ongoing on for more than five years, he said, adding “what we thought was unimaginable a few years ago is already a reality today”.
“The historical resort of Bakuriani has become competitive with world-class resorts”, he said, pointing out “[o]ur country will be at the epicentre of the international sports attention for three weeks" during the competition.
Kostava said the Championships would be broadcast on Eurosport channel, with millions of viewers able to watch athletes taking on the slopes of Bakuriani. A number of other “top-rated European sports channels” will also broadcast the tournament, he added.
We asked which Georgian competitors would represent the country at the tournament, with Kostava explaining Buta Eloshvili, Luka Chophikashvili, Revaz Nazghaidze, Beka Berdzenishvili, Davit Tediashvili and Lasha Kurtanidze were expected to compete in the fixtures of the event.
The official also told us infrastructure for some of the disciplines for the event had been put in place for the first time at a Georgian resort, adding "I hope the Championships will contribute to the promotion of freestyle among young athletes".
The President of the Federation emphasised the Government had made “massive investments” for the creation of modern infrastructure “of the highest level” for hosting the tournament as a “world-class resort”, and extended his gratitude to state bodies “for such support” while also noting contributions from the telecommunications company Silknet and a number of other companies, both specifically for the World Championships and in general efforts for winter resorts development.
Photo: Government's press office.
The President also pointed to international support in the development of winter sports in Georgia, noting the benefits of guidance and consultation from International Ski Federation representatives for the Organising Committee, which includes the Federation and the Mountain Trails Agency. He said the cooperation resulted in the team being “able to reach the appropriate level of organisation in a short time”.
Following the World Championships, Bakuriani will also host Ski Cross World Cup stages over the next two seasons, with Kostava noting he believed the discipline would “become one of the most popular among Georgian athletes”.