On the spot

 Martin Berthod

Vice-Mayor in charge of Tourism, Sport and Culture

St. Moritz, Switzerland

The City of St. Moritz will host the World Union of Olympic Cities 2022 Additional Trip.  The Union warmly thanks you for welcoming its Members. What would you like to share with them at this stage as a teaser for the visit?

St. Moritz is very proud and happy to be a member of the World Union of Olympic Cities and to have the opportunity to share the spirit, the legacy, the thoughts and the future strategy of the Olympic Games respectively sport and culture events on a high level. Sport and culture are of crucial importance for the development of St. Moritz. St. Moritz is located in a high, open valley at 1,800 m above sea level and benefits from unique nature and a climate for both winter and summer activities. The development of the very diverse and partly new activities in the winter and summer requires an ongoing process to improve the standards and services provided which can be discussed and refined primarily through an intensive exchange with representatives of the same or similar providers. We are looking forward to a vivid exchange.

St. Moritz has developed a pro-active and targeted Sport and Tourism Strategy. Could you say a few words about this? 

The 1928 and 1948 Olympic Games, with the extremely international guest structure of St. Moritz, has shaped the tourism strategy from the beginning. The local providers (hotels, tourism, sports and culture) were challenged to develop an attractive and wide-ranging offer with innovative activities, and the pioneers of St. Moritz also contributed a lot to this.
Several winter sports disciplines were born in St. Moritz or have settled in St. Moritz, such as tobogganing (Cresta Skeleton and Bobsleigh), ski jumping, alpine and Nordic skiing, curling, etc. With the large areas on the Engadin lakes, which are frozen in winter, unique St. Moritz events such as horse racing, polo and golf on snow were also developed, which further increased the diversification of the varied St. Moritz activities.It is very important for St. Moritz to hold regular international sports and cultural events, e.g. 5 alpine skiing world championships and over 20 world championships on the Bob Run have taken place, as well as sailing and windsurfing or mountain biking in the summer which were lined up with championships in the yearbooks. The next major events will take place in our region with the World Championships in bobsleigh, skeleton and para sports in winter 2023 or the FIS Freestyle World Championships in 2025. All of these activities are fundamental instruments in the tourism strategy and its marketing.

St. Moritz hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1928 and 1948. Although it seems a long time ago, the Olympic legacy is still present in the City. How does the City build on this and activate its heritage?

The 1928 and 1948 Olympic Games laid a decisive base for St. Moritz and its development. It is correct, it was a long time ago. Nevertheless, St. Moritz still benefits from the Olympic spirit and from hosting the Olympic Winter Games at the beginning and in or after extremely difficult global economic situations. However, St. Moritz is also proud that the sports facilities that were built for the Olympic Games are still used today to the same extent for the staging of major events. Especially in today’s very challenging times, St. Moritz can offer large sports facilities made exclusively from natural materials without artificial additives, which are built and maintained annually by hand, such as the St. Moritz Cresta Run (Skeleton in 1928 and 1948) and the Bob Run St. Moritz Celerina (bobsleigh, skeleton and luge) – the longest ice sculpture in the world.
St. Moritz also works very closely with the Swiss Olympic Committee, be it in organizing events and/or supporting athletes in training and competition preparation. St. Moritz is the Swiss Olympic training base for altitude training and, with the ideal climate, nature and modern sports infrastructure, it can offer excellent training conditions, which are used and appreciated not only by national but also by numerous international athletes. Especially in the endurance disciplines, excellent results are achieved regarding major events such as the Olympic Games, World Championships, Diamond Events, etc.

St Moritz also hosted some of the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games competitions. How has this event contributed to the city’s development strategy? Is hosting youth events an axis that St. Moritz would like to continue exploring in the future?

It was a great honor for St. Moritz to host the Olympic flame and to raise the flags of the participating nations for a third time. But it was also a great pleasure for St. Moritz to welcome young athletes from all over the world on the one hand and to be able to present sports facilities made exclusively from natural materials in the mood of ‘back to the roots’ on the other hand – this was a novelty for the majority of the participants. The only natural bobsleigh track in the world for bobsleigh, skeleton and luge was known, but speed skating on a frozen lake not at all. Although the event on Lake St. Moritz was in question, at the last moment, the lake froze and the required 400m oval track of excellent quality was provided for the participants on the opening day and for all competitions.
Youth events in several disciplines are regularly scheduled in the St. Moritz winter and summer event calendars and should not be absent in the future either. A good mix of elite and youth events is of importance for the development of the sport and also for the tourism strategy of St. Moritz. Due to the corona pandemic, no additional events could be held during the last two years, not even in speed skating. However, St. Moritz would also like to promote this attractive sport if possible, especially in the youth sector.

What would you like that Union’s Members take back home after their visit to St. Moritz, in terms of both memories and inspiration?

Memories of good discussions and the joint exchange of experiences made with any new strategies addressed in the implementation and development of events. Development of ideas regarding sustainability and value retention for an Olympic City for the Olympic Games and subsequent events – and in any case good memories of a pleasant and enjoyable stay in St. Moritz – Olympic City 1928 / 1948 / 2020. St. Moritz is also very happy to celebrate 100 years of the Olympic Games in 2028 and to be able to live up to the memory of the great development of the sports and its history.