Dan Palmer

With all of the talk of Kamila Valieva, human rights abuses and closed looped systems, you can be forgiven if you watched Beijing 2022 and missed the important legacy news surrounding the Yanqing National Sliding Centre.

Towards the end of the Winter Olympics in China's capital last month, a deal was penned with the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) which will see the track host World Cup events for the next five years.

This is a crucial development as the Olympic world has a dismal record of spending millions on sliding courses which are used for bobsleigh, skeleton and luge over a two week period and then are barely touched again.

Take the Olympic Sliding Centre in Pyeongchang that was constructed for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Reports suggest that the cost of the facility was an eye-watering $114.5 million (£87 million/€104 million) - a sum which should have led to the venue becoming an automatic fixture on the global sliding circuit.

However, no World Cups on either the IBSF or International Luge Federation (FIL) schedule have been held in Pyeongchang since, which seems like a dreadful waste of the money that was spent.

A legacy deal has been agreed for the Yanqing National Sliding Centre ©Getty Images
A legacy deal has been agreed for the Yanqing National Sliding Centre ©Getty Images

It is a similar story elsewhere, with Nagano 1998's "Spiral" course in Japan said to be in a "dilapidated" state after a lack of use.

In Italy, the Cesana Pariol track used for Turin 2006 was ordered to be dismantled amid high running costs just six years later.

Officials in the corridors of power at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) now often speak about keeping costs down and using existing venues for future editions of the Games.

This type of talk has been sparked by a series of referendum defeats in cities interested in playing host, as well as increasing calls for green initiatives to take centre stage amid a world more acutely aware of climate change.

The sliding centre can be seen as symbolising the way of doing things the IOC would like to forget.

They are extremely expensive to build and maintain, and are not as accessible for the public to use after the Games.

It is now seen as preferable to host sliding events at an existing track, even if this is located a long way from the host city.

When Lausanne hosted the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics, sliding was held nearly 250 miles away in St Moritz.

Swedish capital Stockholm, when bidding for the 2026 Games, proposed that sliding be held in Sigulda in Latvia, while a potential Barcelona bid for 2030 has notably suggested Sarajevo.

The Bosnian capital, which hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics, is around 1,250 miles away from Barcelona and photographs of its track from 2019 show that it turned into a concrete shell and was covered in graffiti. 

Interestingly, Milan-Cortina 2026 have expressed a desire to renovate the Eugenio Monti sliding course in Cortina d'Ampezzo, featured in the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, for their Games.

This will no doubt be a costly undertaking, and it remains to be seen if the IOC will allow them to proceed down this route.

With Cesana Pariol hosting Olympic competition less than 20 years ago just a few hundred miles to the west across northern Italy, this seems like a project that ought to have been avoided.

The Pyeongchang 2018 sliding venue hasn't been used on the World Cup circuit since the Games ©Getty Images
The Pyeongchang 2018 sliding venue hasn't been used on the World Cup circuit since the Games ©Getty Images

Olympic courses, then, need to become regular fixtures on the World Cup circuits after the Games and the news on Yanqing should be welcomed.

Another positive impact of this could be an improvement in standards across the world, and an end to the same two or three countries dominating the sports.

Germany won all four luge titles at Beijing 2022, as well as both skeleton golds.

They won three out of the four bobsleigh golds available as well, only missing out in the new event of women's monobob to Kaillie Humphries of the United States.

This sort of domination is great for Germany - and their fantastic athletes certainly deserve their success - but it is not good for attracting new fans and growing the appeal of sliding sports in different markets. 

To me, it seems like the Germans have a significant advantage as they usually host at least three World Cup events a season on both the IBSF and International Luge Federation (FIL) circuits.

The country has fantastic tracks in Winterberg, Altenberg, Oberhof and Königssee but it gives home sliders - who must practice on these courses regularly - a huge advantage when they always appear on the calendar.

The Sarajevo 1984 sliding track, pictured covered in graffiti in 2019 ©Getty Images
The Sarajevo 1984 sliding track, pictured covered in graffiti in 2019 ©Getty Images

Germany also hosts a large number of World Championships with their dominance perhaps summed up by the fact that no woman from outside the country has won the overall World Cup title in luge since 1998.

More perhaps needs to be done to get other tracks up to elite standard and there will inevitably be red tape challenges. But if the IBSF and FIL World Cup seasons were limited to just one race in Germany per year, I think it would be good for the sports.

Travel costs and logistics have been suggested to me as a problem - particularly with regards to moving around outside of Europe.

But an Asian leg of the World Cup season - taking in China and South Korea - would be a great spectacle as well as a North American stage featuring tracks used at the Salt Lake City 2002 and Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

In Europe, courses can be used in St Moritz, Lillehammer, La Plagne, Sigulda and one in Germany - providing a good mix of host countries and ensuring that the expensive tracks of the last two Olympics are used in full.