In size and terrain variety, the Olympic venues in Krasnaya Polyana are comparable to France’s Les Trois Vallées. But will they survive after the torch is extinguished?
Paul Mathews arrived in the Caucasus on the private jet of a Russian plutocrat and for a week was chauffeured around the mountains in an armored Mercedes with an escort of several dozen police cars and a bodyguard named Sacha who looked like a stand-in for Arnold Schwarzenegger. There were state dinners and vodka toasts and a pig roast in the forest. “It was like an acid trip,” says Mathews, a veteran mountain-resort designer, recalling the exploratory trip he took in 2000 to scout ski areas in southern Russia.
Franz Klammer set an edge and stood on it. All of Austria roared.
For nearly 40 years, Franz Klammer’s performance at the 1976 Innsbruck Games has stood as the defining episode of modern ski racing. But while the reckless daring of his gold-medal downhill run is justly celebrated, the decisive factor may have been more mundane: innovative technique.