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  • Tuesday Talk -- Bobsleigh Boss on World Champs, Unseating an Incumbent, Race for 2018


    Ivo Ferriani took his campaign for FIBT president to Whistler during the Vancouver Olympics. 

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    (ATR) FIBT president Ivo Ferriani tells Around the Rings relationships are strong within his federation less than six months after unseating an incumbent of 16 years.

    Ferriani, 51, edged Canadian businessman Bob Storey by just two votes on Sept. 13 in the first contested FIBT presidential election since 1994.

    Ferriani brings to the presidency experience in organizing the bobsleigh, skeleton and luge events at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin and his work as technical director of the Italian national bobsleigh team. In his sporting career as a bobsleigh pilot, Ferriani twice won the national Italian championships and competed at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary.

    ATR caught up with the hat-wearing honcho on the heels of his first world champs as FIBT president. In this edition of Tuesday Talk, he tackles preparations for Innsbruck 2012 and Sochi 2014 as well as the race for 2018.

    Around the Rings: Tell me about last month’s world champs. How did they go?

    Ivo Ferriani: We had great World Championships in Koenigssee – some parts of the track were changed to follow up the latest standard. Spectators now have huge stands in the start and finish areas now. The crowds there almost pushed the athletes from the start to the finish, great atmosphere there.

    For an International Federation also the composition of medal winners matters, too. And in Koenigssee we had a lot of different National Federations winning a medal. 

    ATR: Koenigssee is the proposed venue for Munich 2018. Is the sliding center ready for Olympic bobsled and skeleton?

    IF: Well, they recently have changed parts of the track so they have the most modern track in the world and therefore are ready for the Games.

    ATR: You’re a new federation president who’s succeeding an incumbent of many years. What are relations like with former president Bob Storey, and has there been any tension within FIBT?
    Koenigssee will again host the world's top sliders should Munich win hosting rights to the 2018 Winter Games. (Getty Images)

    IF: No, there is no tension within the FIBT. I have a lot of respect for Bob Storey. We had quite a few talks already, and he was our guest at the World Championships in Koenigssee. We have an absolutely good relationship.

    ATR: How are preparations coming for Innsbruck 2012?

    IF: We are very focused on 2012 because they are going to be the first Winter Youth Olympic Games. We are working in coordination with the organizing committee and my experts. It’s something new for sure, but it gives us all a great opportunity to bring our sports to the youth.

    ATR: What about Sochi 2014?

    IF: We are working closely with the organizing committee for Sochi 2014. They have all possibilities to host great Olympic Winter Games, and I am sure the Russian people will create a great atmosphere for our athletes.
    IOC member and five-time Olympic bobsledder Prince Albert II of Monaco stopped by Koenigssee for the showcase four-man bobsleigh. (Getty Images)

    ATR: In terms of the 2018 race, what is your federation looking for in the bids from Annecy, Munich and PyeongChang?

    IF: Well, as an International Federation you always look for the best solution for your sport.

    As far as I have seen, the bid documents from all three candidates give the FIBT great opportunities. All of them have for sure the capability to host the games. So may the best one win. We are looking forward to the decision being taken in July in Durban.

    ATR: SportAccord is coming up in early April, and this year’s theme is “Why Sport Matters” – in your opinion, why does sport matter?

    IF: Sport for me has so many social aspects – it easily teaches all important things you need for life, and I am not saying that you need to be a top-class athlete to find out.

    If you are a kid in school, sport teaches you all important things that you can adapt for your school life too. Not by sitting in a class which sometimes is not so easy for kids, but by exploring yourself: if you train you improve, you have to show respect for people and for other things in order to understand it. If you playing in a team all together, the whole team gets better.

    You need to play fair in order to be respected, and last but not least you stay healthy, and as we all know: mens sana in corpora sano ["a sound mind in a sound body"].
    Sport gives our kids the opportunity to learn essential things about life.

    Written by Matthew Grayson.

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