FIS has 'no doubt' Olympic venue can host test event in 2016

SOELDEN, Austria (AP) The international ski federation has ''no doubt'' that the downhill venue for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics will be ready in time to host a test event in February next year despite massive construction delays.

FIS said Friday the Austrian manufacturer who is building the gondola lift will meet a Jan. 10 deadline, four weeks before two men's World Cup races are scheduled for the Jeongseon ski resort. A snow-making system also still needs to be completed.

''We will be there in February,'' the federation's general secretary, Sarah Lewis, said, adding that manufacturer Doppelmayr had promised to ''send an extra team'' to speed up the construction of the lift.

Men's race director Markus Waldner added ''we have no doubt but we know there are delays. We push the organizers. On paper it works, in reality we'll see.''

''The concrete is there, they are working 24 hours, seven days,'' Waldner told The Associated Press. ''The last update we got was that they meet the timeline.''

The resort is set to host a men's downhill on Feb. 6, followed by a super-G the next day. The women's World Cup travels to Jeongseon for two speed events in March 2017.

For FIS it's crucial to have the first races on the new course already in the upcoming season.

''It is so important to have these test events now,'' Waldner said. ''There is an option to move it to 2017 but in case there is bad weather and it has to be canceled, we would have no tests at all before the Olympics. That is not good.''

Workers were also still busy with installing the infrastructure to make artificial snow.

''That has to be completed as well, especially the pump house. We have to push them,'' Waldner said.

The race course itself will be ready early November, according to the race director. Designed by Bernhard Russi and set by Hannes Trinkl, it feateres ''four big jumps and in the last section a very nice traverse, so a real demanding track with a finish jump.''

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