By Mike Rowbottom

Ivo Ferriani has tipped Britain for strong medal possibilities at Sochi 2014 ©MatchtightDecember 29 - Ivo Ferriani, President of the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (FIBT), has tipped Britain for strong medal possibilities at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, where he believes the characteristics of the Sanki Sliding Centre will ensure a "very, very open competition".

And he denied that the host nation, Russia, would gain any significant advantage from having more time on their ice.

"Canada had more ice-time before the last [Winter] Olympics in Vancouver, the Italians had more ice time before the 2006 Turin's normal," Ferriani, a former bobsleigh athlete who coached Italian and French crews to Olympic and World Championship medals before taking up his current role in 2010, told insidethegames.

"But the fact that you have more ice time doesn't mean you will win without any problem.

"It doesn't mean you have an advantage.

"I am sure the competition in Sochi will very, very open.

"There will be medal possibilities for a wide range of countries - and I think Britain has excellent chances in the men's four-man bob and in the skeleton competition.

Britain's four-man bobsleigh team, which won silver at the Lake Placid World Cup this month, have medal chances in Sochi according to Ivo Ferriani ©Getty ImagesBritain's four-man bobsleigh team, which won silver at the Lake Placid World Cup this month, have medal chances in Sochi according to Ivo Ferriani ©Getty Images

"The Sochi track is very interesting.

"It is safe, and it is not easy to be fast.

"The key will be to get a feeling, an understanding of the course.

"It will be vital to have a good start, and to maintain an absolute focus during the racing.

"The main characteristic of our sport is the curves on the track.

"It has to be made safe - that is an essential, we don't have danger tracks - but the corners have to be tricky.

"Competitors need to find the best way to deal with them."

Ferriani, who got up at 5am to work alongside managers on the Sanki surface for several days running in February 2012 when he visited Sochi ahead of the test event competition, announced in July a sponsorship with Gazprom, the giant Russian liquefied natural gas company, which will be worth €2 million (£1.7 million/$2.7 million) over the next two seasons.

Much of that money, he added, would be directed to two major new projects within bobsleigh and skeleton - to encourage athletes to remain in the sport after retirement in order to become coaches, and, partly as a consequence, spreading the sport to new areas.

"I feel excited about our sport right now," Ferriani added.

"I am absolutely fixed on my aim of creating new projects.

"Just because it is difficult - that is why we want to do it.

"One of my aims is to develop the sport in Africa and Asia because I am sure we will find talented athletes there.

"I have already been in contact with the authorities in Nigeria, where there are a lot of track and field athletes who can run and push hard.

"We want to match them with good coaching and then see how they can help the sport develop."

Read the full exclusive interview with Ivo Ferriani here.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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