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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Let’s start with the Olympic University. Go ahead.
Interros Holding Company President Vladimir Potanin: Mr President, I know that you are keeping personal watch on everything related to the Olympic preparations. I therefore want to update you on the Russian International Olympic University, which is up and running and carrying out study programmes.
As you know, 10 programmes are already underway and dozens of people have already received training, mostly personnel for the upcoming Sochi Olympics and for sports facilities in the regions. From September next year the university will operate as a full-fledged establishment with its own new buildings, and we plan to open the next academic year in full.
In this respect, since you are the chairman of the university’s board of trustees, I wanted to ask if it would be possible to time the board’s meeting for this date – the academic year’s start.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course let’s do this.
Vladimir Potanin: This will give us the chance to discuss all of the various matters that have built up.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, with pleasure, let’s do this.
Vladimir Potanin: Thank you. We will wait then for more specific instructions from you on this matter.
Vladimir Putin: How is work progressing on the Olympic facilities you are involved in?
Vladimir Potanin: Thank you for taking an interest. We are putting a lot of care and thought into this work, after all, we will be playing host to athletes and tourists from around the world, and we have to be up to the task and put on a good showing.
The third operating season will be starting soon. We plan to open the season on December 22. It will be quite different to last year. We hope to make a big stride forward and have every reason to expect that we will succeed. You visited the sites last year and saw that the slopes were quite well prepared. I would say that they were up to a good standard in fact, and we had positive responses too. But we only had 38 kilometres of trails then, whereas this year we will have 60 kilometres in operation, and 90 by the time the Olympics begin.
As for the hotels, you will recall that we opened two hotels in test regime, and we will have five operating this year. They can take almost 1,000 people now. Of course, we will have them running at full capacity by the time of the Olympics. This year will see the ski resort become a full-fledged resort of European standard. Let me stress that this is not the average European standard, but the top quality level.
This is not just our own opinion. Many specialists share this view, including sportspeople who have skied here, amateur skiers, and experts from the International Olympic Committee. Everyone rates the resort very highly, including Jean-Claude Killy, the International Olympic Committee’s person responsible for overseeing these Olympics. He is himself a three-time Olympic champion and knows a good trail when he sees it. Both publicly and in private conversations he said that the resort is indeed shaping up into a facility of the highest level.
Vladimir Putin: The trails there are good, as are the equipment, ski-lifts, and the hotels, so you have everything you need.
Vladimir Potanin: It is nice to know that not only can we compete with the best resorts but in some things can even surpass them.
Vladimir Putin: You know what you should do? You are to get the various organisations together and agree on operating all of the trails together so that people will be able to buy a ski pass and ski on both sides of the valley.
Vladimir Potanin: Mr President, we are already working on this with our neighbours. We have Gazprom on one side and Alpika Service on the other, and we are already holding the technical discussions on this matter. This is indeed something we have to do. At all the ski resorts you always have the neighbouring stations working together this way because it is convenient for visitors and for the resort owners and operators. It is more advantageous to do things this way, and we will definitely do this too.
Vladimir Putin: This will increase the resort’s quality and make it more attractive. It will also improve it a lot from the commercial point of view.
Vladimir Potanin: Absolutely. We will do this, Mr President. We have 90 kilometres of trails, and together with our neighbours we will have more than 200 kilometres. Of course this will make the skiing more interesting.
Vladimir Putin: Excellent.