Cortina sliding track rebuild eyed for 2026 Olympics; IOC asks for backup plan

Cortina sliding track rebuild eyed for 2026 Olympics; IOC asks for backup plan

Milano-Cortina 2026 Winter Olympic organizers are pursuing a plan to reconstruct a Cortina sliding track for bobsled, luge and skeleton rather than use an existing venue abroad.

The IOC asked organizers to prepare a plan B in case of delays to ensure the sliding events can be held during the Games.

The Cortina d'Ampezzo track, used for the 1956 Winter Games and later renovated, closed in 2008 because of rising maintenance costs and was dismantled last summer to make way for a new facility.

Then in October at an IOC session in Mumbai, India, Milano-Cortina organizers announced they would seek a sliding venue outside of Italy after a plan to rebuild the Cortina track was scrapped.

That would have meant a Winter Olympics would hold medal events in multiple countries for the first time. Lake Placid, New York, was one of at least six sites that offered to host the 2026 Olympic sliding events, but now they could stay in Italy after all.

Last week, Italian government officials announced a deal was signed to rebuild the Cortina track with a construction company that offered to do so for $88 million.

In a statement noting the Italians' decision, an IOC spokesperson said that the safety of the athletes and spectators is paramount.

"To guarantee this, the timelines set by the International Federations of these sports to homologate and run test events on any new or renovated track have to be respected," the statement read. "With this in mind, the IOC has strong concerns about the delivery of this project by the required deadline of March 2025, which is necessary to validate and homologate the track, as no sliding track has ever been completed in such a short timeframe. This concern is shared by the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation and the International Luge Federation. Therefore, the IOC has asked the Milano Cortina 2026 Organizing Committee to prepare a plan B as contingency in case of any delays, to ensure bobsleigh, skeleton and luge competitions can be held during the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026."

As officials worked to agree on the construction deal, Milano-Cortina organizers said they would continue to work on a possible plan B and were in continuous contact with the IOC and the international federations for bobsled, skeleton and luge.

The IOC maintains its stance that reconstructing a venue is not essential for the Milano-Cortina Games and that no permanent venue should be built without a clear and viable legacy plan.

"The new project for the sliding track in Cortina does not address these issues as the planned design does not include any viable sustainable use or legacy following the Games and does not deliver a venue that meets all technical requirements, increasing significantly cost and complexity for the organizing committee that will have to make up for the gaps," the IOC statement read. "The IOC firmly believes that the existing number of sliding centers, globally, is sufficient for the current number of athletes and competitions in the sports of bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton. Furthermore, as affirmed during the IOC Session in Mumbai, only existing and already operating tracks should be considered due to the very tight timeline remaining. Considering all of this, it is crucial to reiterate that the potential realization of a sliding track, along with all infrastructural works, is rooted in public investment, falling outside the competences of the Milano Cortina 2026 Organizing Committee. The IOC recognizes the progress made by the organizing committee in other areas of the venue masterplan and the organization of the Games and appreciates its collaboration and partnership.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.