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Gov't, ski federation to strengthen efforts for first Olympic medal on snow

All News 14:09 January 22, 2016

By Yoo Jee-ho

JEONGSEON, South Korea, Jan. 22 (Yonhap) -- The government and the national skiing federation said Friday they will strengthen their efforts to raise South Korea's competitiveness in Olympic snow events at home.

Kim Jong-deok, minister of culture, sports and tourism, and Shin Dong-bin, president of the Korea Ski Association, discussed ways to improve the country's chances of winning its first Olympic medal on snow at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games, officials said. Kim and Shin both attended the opening ceremony for the Jeongseon Alpine Centre in Jeongseon, some 210 kilometers east of Seoul, which will host the International Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine Skiing World Cup on Feb. 6-7 as an Olympic test event.

Kim and Shin agreed to bring in experienced coaches from overseas for snow events. South Korea has won 26 gold medals and 53 medals overall at the Winter Olympics, but none from snow sports, such as alpine skiing and snowboard.

Former artistic gymnasts recently converted to aerial freestyle skiing, hoping to make the most of their acrobatic background, and Kim and Shin said they'd continue to encourage similar cases in other winter sports.

The two officials also said they hope to expand skiing at the grassroots level by opening ski jumping schools for children.

Shin, who is also chairman of the conglomerate Lotte Group, said he is considering "an active participation" in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics as a corporate sponsor.

Kim said patience will be a virtue as PyeongChang gears up for the first Winter Olympics in South Korea.

"We can't really expect to have world-class skiers, because we've never even had an Olympic-caliber skiing venue until Jeongseon," Kim said during the alpine venue's opening ceremony. "The Korea Ski Association is offering plenty of support, with a focus on events where we feel we have some chance, such as moguls and halfpipe in freestyle skiing. We will continue to develop prospects so we can start grabbing medals in international events."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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