Olympic construction investor, president of Interros Vladimir Potanin speaks about further use of Rosa Khutor ski resort.
Vladimir Potanin: We were afraid of defeat, but came off with triumph!
— What do you think about the orchestration of the Olympic games and prospects for usage of Olympic inheritance?
— That's a very important question, because when we say that it’s worth the cost, our judgment starts with pleasure for our overall team victory and every single medal taken, but for a stable estimate it is essential that every building has to be in-demand and functional, and, preferably, economically effective. I can only speak about the objects that we've built, and, first of all, about Rosa Khutor. In my opinion, Rosa Khutor will be one of the major Olympic inheritances.
There were at least some ice stadiums and rinks before the Olympics but we didn't have any ski resorts of that level in the country.
That's why I think that it's an important part of inheritance. And guests, fans and specialists liked Rosa Khutor very much. As we expected, sky resort became a get-together place for the fans.
— Does it mean that we can state that a world-class sky resort emerged in Russia?
— Let me start from the beginning. Vladimir Putin said that many critics of the Olympic Games judged from overall anti-Russian attitude — they haven't been in Sochi, haven't done sports, many of them attacked the Games because of the negative attitude towards our country. I've started to think about and examined what people have been writing about Rosa Khutor. At first they wrote that we wouldn't succeed, that our ski resort wouldn't be compared with Alpine and American ones. And what I'm reading now is about too many chairlifts, like, why they are building so many chairlifts, and about foreigners who won't go there. And it is jealousy, envy! They are afraid, they've understood that everything has worked out, and it applies both to the whole Olympic Games and to Rosa Khutor. We are their competitors to the utmost.
— Rosa Khutor will become a fully-featured tourist resort very soon. What kind of investments or changes are planned in order to succeed?
— It can't be done immediately, first of all, because we need to convert ski resort to an all-season one, and on the second hand, it's necessary to make it public tourist resort, not only sports resort.
Anticipated expenses (around 4,5 billion roubles) will be used to change the structure of the Olympic village, to build and develop mountain-bike tracks, walking routes, to establish rock climbing facilities and many other things. It will take two or three years, and we think that the whole project will be up and running at full capacity in two or three seasons. But the first fully-featured ski season will take place in 2014-2015. After that it will be possible to say whether the resort is successful and whether our expectations about attendance, hotel occupancy and the demand for our ski slopes are fulfilled.
— Recently Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev speaking about Olympic infrastructure and companies involved in creating it said that these companies should get state backing. What kind of backing Interros is counting on and are there any consultations being held about that?
— First of all, I confirm that these consultations with the government about some support for the investors are being held recurrently, and although the final resolution haven't been carried, I can't complain that the government doesn't hear our arguments. Overall, there's understanding that apart from commercial side we have national-level order that should be correctly and uprightly priced. State backing for the investors can be considered in the light of that in order not to break concept of justice, which is very important in that case.
Even more, there's a public belief that too much money was spent on the Olympic Games and it's one too many to help somebody else. It's actually not like that, because many investors participated not in terms of commercial interest but with high-hearted nationwide interest. I, for one, felt myself not only as an investor, but as a fan, as a person, who wants to leave good memories. And many others felt the same way. That's why we have a dialogue with the government.
— How do you think the issues with Olympic construction projects and Vnesheconombank loans should be absolved?
— Let me tell you one little secret. I'm not planning to use this resort as a commercial enterprise. I have some plans, which are not clearly drawn, to convert Rosa Khutor into some kind of a fund that will be promotive for the resort itself, especially its sportive side. Of course, it's too early to discuss it, because heavy debt to Vnesheconombank still exist and it's still not clear how this debt should be rescheduled. In the light of Olympic inheritance and given that to some extent it's my personal calling card, I'm planning to transform Rosa Khutor to an organization with the only one goal — to develop and modernize the resort. I think it will help me to reschedule loans in more efficient way and to get a helping hand, as I want this project to live out, be alive and kicking. And if I can convince the government that this project will be used for public benefit instead of commercialization, society will fairly accept if I will be supported as an investor. I'm not short on money and personally I don't need any support, but for Rosa Khutor project that kind of help is essential.
— Will it be possible to project Olympic experience to the preparation for even bigger event — World Football Cup-2018 in Russia?
— In my opinion, there's a big difference between hosting Olympic Games and World Football Cup. It's easier to concentrate all efforts on Olympic Games, at least it's easier in territorial and management issues. With our loose management of big projects their territorial diversity arouses concerns, we'll somebody like Dmitry Kozak or even himself to aggregate a project that big and disheveled, In Sochi, everybody ganged up and did the whole thing all together, but this football project is different because of dispersion. On the one hand, it should stir up emotions across all the country, on the other, it will be much harder to accomplish it.
And of course, it will be a lot more attention to the World Cup than to the Winter Olympics. In all importance of the Winter Olympic Games they come short in popularity and audience size to the Summer Olympics and the World Cup. That's why it will be more difficult: there will be more feedback and, accordingly, more responsibility. In this case it's very important to maintain the cycle of powerful messages to the outside environment. It't like a public company — it has to present positive news to make investors believe and buy shares. A country should send positive fluids to not only more respectful in the world, but kind of lovable and appealing. In that case Word Cup is amazing!