Ski star Feuz complains of a lack of ski buzz in Olympic host China | Olympia

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GENEVA (AP) – The two-time Olympic medalist Beat Feuz is not thrilled to travel to Beijing for further winter games in a host country with little skiing tradition.

The expected favorite in the men’s downhill run on February 6th said in comments reported by Swiss media on Thursday that it was “unfortunate” that his third consecutive Olympic Games in January will again lack the atmosphere of classic European races.

“Those were great competitions,” said Feuz about the races in Sochi 2014 and Pyeongchang 2018, “but when you go to Wengen and Kitzbühel, it’s a bit of a culture shock.”

“I assume that the races in China will take place again in front of a fairly empty grandstand,” said the four-time defending champion in the downhill.

Only Chinese residents can purchase tickets to Beijing Olympic events, including alpine ski races on tracks created for the Games in the new Xiaohaituo resort in Yanqing District.

International fans are not admitted to the Beijing Olympics due to Chinese travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nevertheless, there were no public health rules at the 2018 Olympic Games, where Feuz won bronze in the downhill and silver in the super-G on a sparsely-visited and quiet hill in Jeongseon, South Korea.

The main stand was almost empty when Feuz and the other Downhill medalists conducted media interviews in the finish area.

“I think it’s a shame that we’re back in a place where skiing isn’t a big tradition,” said the Swiss, who will be 39 years old during the 2026 Olympic Games. Then alpine racing will return to the inland venues in Cortina d’Ampezzo and Bormio in Italy.

Hosting the Olympic Games is the key to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s goal of getting 300 million people involved in winter sports, even if the venues have little natural snow. World Cup venues in Europe and North America routinely use artificial snow to prepare more reliable surfaces.

Feuz has not ridden on the next Olympic routes because a planned stop on the men’s World Cup route to test it in February 2020 was canceled as the coronavirus outbreak spread from China.

This weekend, Olympic ski cross contenders are going to World Cup races in China to test their course at the Secret Garden Resort.

Feedback from the Swiss team worries Feuz, who is preparing in Canada for the first World Cup downhill of the season in Lake Louise on Friday.

“I’ve heard from the skiers … that the arrival process (in China) was quite complicated due to the many restrictions related to COVID,” said Feuz, adding that one racer “has not yet been able to leave his room.

“These are difficult times.”

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More AP Winter Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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