The first Pyeongchang 2018 test event for the Winter Olympic Games looks set to receive a financial boost after Korean Ski Association (KSA) chairman Shin Dong-bin reportedly vowed to pledge ₩5 billion (£3 million/$4 million/€4 million) to next month’s competition.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine Skiing World Cup is due to take place at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre from February 3 to 7, the first of 28 test events due to be held by Pyeongchang 2018 in preparation for the first Winter Olympics to ever take place in South Korea.
Shin, also the head of multinational food, chemicals and shopping corporation the Lotte Group, recently visited the ski jumping and Nordic combined venues, both of which are located at Alpensia.
The move to financially back the test event comes as part of Shin’s attempt to increase the popularity of skiing in the country ahead of the Games in a bid to enhance their medal prospects.
He has also set up a system for South Korean skiers which gives them access to health trainers, physical therapists, engineers and wax specialists in order to provide better support to the athletes during his time as KSA President, a role which he has held since 2014.
Shin has also signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with his counterparts in the United States and Canada.
“We will take the leadership in popularising skiing and make glory days of the sports,” he said at the time.
Shin’s pledge of support comes after the Jeongseon Alpine Centre was given the green light to host the competition next month following concerns about the readiness of the venue.
Organisers had been fearful that it would not be ready in time, particularly with the winter conditions making it difficult for construction work to be carried out.
They were reportedly unsatisfied with the gondola at the venue, the seating compartment on a ski lift, before an agreement was eventually reached to ensure the facility would be ready for the event.
Pyeongchang 2018 secretary general Yeo Hyung-koo had revealed last month that the centre was only 53.7 per cent complete but insisted it would be 60 per cent ready by the time the snow inspection was carried out on January 20.
That would be ready enough for the World Cup event to be held, it was claimed.
The International Olympic Committee also expressed fears about the Jeongseon Alpine Centre last month as Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi warned construction at the venue was on a “very tight timeline”.