2022 February-March Analysis

Bakuriani betting big on international winter sports events

Georgia’s ski resorts have not had it easy in recent years. 2019 was a dry spell. 2020 was lost to Covid. 2021 saw numbers depressed for a mix of both reasons. As the country’s mountain resorts opened their doors this season, there has been both curiosity about what this year’s ski season might hold and abiding caution. Despite this, one of the country’s four ski resorts, Bakuriani, is betting big on its future by hosting a slew of international winter sporting events in the coming years.

Bakuriani has a lot to get ready for and has thus been at the epicenter of development efforts. The resort town will be hosting several stages of the European Cup in February 2022 in giant slalom and parallel snowboarding slalom, and is also getting ready to host the 2023 Freeski and Snowboard World Championships. Bakuriani will be hosting the Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2025.

Repairing and upgrading local infrastructure has been at the focus of preparations. Water supply problems have caused shutdowns in recent years, due to a lack of drinking water and snow creation capacity. However, this problem seems to be solved after the United Water Supply Company of Georgia did an overhaul of the town’s water systems in a 10 million GEL project in 2021.

As for artificial snow creation, systems are also being installed for the 2023 Snowboard World Championships. The creation of two artificial lakes nearby will ensure a steady supply of water to the resort’s artificial snow creation capacity.

“World championships of this level are not held without artificial snow, therefore, a new snow system will be installed on Kokhta Gora, along a total length of 30 kilometers, and artificial lakes will be built to supply this system,” said Zura Darchiashvili, head of the organizing committee of the Mountain Resorts Development Company.

Three new ropeways have also appeared in Bakuriani in time for the 2022 season. The ropes were built by the world-leading Austrian-Swiss company Doppelmayr-Garaventa Group. The capacity of all three new ropeways is 5,400 passengers per hour in the first phase, which can be increased to a total of 7,200 passengers.

In addition, for the 2023 championship, it is planned to set up new ski trails and ice rinks in Bakuriani, and most importantly the resort’s ski jump, which has lain derelict for nearly 40 years, will be repaired.

Projects worth 71 million GEL have been completed in the last two years for the urban renewal of Bakuriani on major roads, including the Bakuriani bypass. The three-km access road to Mitarbi and the Kokhta ropeway and Didveli parking have been expanded. Parking spaces at various locations in Bakuriani have been opened at three locations at the entrances of Bakuriani to ease traffic jams during the peak periods of the season. Lighting and pedestrian projects have also been implemented.

Bakuriani recreational zones are also planned to be renewed before the championship. In January 2022, the Municipal Development Fund announced a tender for the rehabilitation of Bakuriani Central Park. The amount allocated for rehabilitation is 10.5 million GEL. A tender has been announced for the rehabilitation of Bakuriani Park twice, but so far no winner has been selected.

Rooms Hotel Kokhta is hoping the speed and quality of infrastructure development in recent years will do much for the economy of the region, and is looking forward to serving guests in 2022, when the hotel plans to establish itself as “the favored stay for those searching for serenity in a fast-paced life.” With all that is going on in Bakuriani as it gets ready to host a series of international sporting events, that sure sounds appealing.

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