Cortina to host Winter Olympics
In 2026, Cortina will host once again the Olympic Games, 70 years after the Winter Games that the town hosted in 1956, with which Cortina earned the title of Queen of Winter Sports. These Olympic Games will have two host cities, Milan and Cortina, with the support of the Lombardy, Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige Regions. It will make this a memorable edition aimed at enhancing cooperation within the framework of the entire Italian Alpine macro-region: 50 Olympic medals will be awarded in Lombardy and 50 in the Cortina cluster. It will be an enormous event, bringing together an international community of athletes and fans, ready to experience exciting moments of sports and fun but also of bringing together important values such as sustainability. The Queen of the Dolomites has been praised for its sustainable approach aimed at ensuring the protection of the delicate alpine ecosystem.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, surrounded by the wonderful Italian Alps, is a well-known destination for winter sports. The town can boast not only an extraordinary history and experience in the field but also well-established relations with national and international sporting federations. Moreover, in 2021 Cortina will host the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.
During the 1956 Olympic Games – the event that more than any other made an irreversible and crucial mark on the DNA of Cortina – many tourist facilities were upgraded and internationally renowned architects participated in revolutionising and thus modernising the urban planning of the town. Many works of architecture were built and went on to become iconic symbols of the town: the Olympic Ice Stadium, the historic Monti Bobsleigh Track and the Ski jumping hill Trampolino Italia. These three facilities will be restructured and will be once again in the limelight in 2026. The ice stadium and the bobsleigh track will host, together with Cortina’s ski pistes, some of the sports that are at the core of the social fabric of Cortina: curling, luge, skeleton, bobsleigh and skiing.
Olympic Ice Stadium
The Olympic Ice Stadium is the symbol of the legendary Olympics held in Cortina in 1956. Recently renovated, it is, and has been, a multi-functional facility: just two years after the Olympics, in 1958, it hosted the US basketball team Harlem Globetrotter, by covering the surface with a wooden base. In addition, it has then been the venue for several concerts (Glenn Miller Jazz Orchestra, Zucchero, Antonello Venditti, Renzo Arbore and the Italian Orchestra) and of the 2010 Curling World Championships. In both winter and summer seasons, it hosts a public ice-skating rink, where it’s possible to take ice skating and ice hockey courses. The ice-skating rink helds many competitions, such as figure skating and ice hockey, with the Alps Hockey League starring the Ampezzo team.
The Olympic Stadium will once again be in the limelight of Olympic sports, as it will host the curling competitions during the 2026 Games. In view of the event the building will be renovated: the back locker rooms will be enlarged, accessibility will be improved and a museum itinerary is to be created, so as to value the facility and its history. Lastly, news tracks under the current playground will be constructed.
Eugenio Monti Track
The Cortina bobsleigh track, built in 1924, is among the first ones built wordwide. It was named after the local athlete Eugenio Monti who, between 1957 and 1968, won six Olympic medals in bobsleigh in the Winter Olympic Games and ten medals in the World Championships. The track has also been the film set of the 1981 “For Your Eyes Only”, starring Roger Moore as James Bond, as well as the set for the advertisement of the iconic Ford “Cortina”.
It closed in 2008 and for the 2026 Winter Games it will need major renovation activities, which will maintain the track almost unchanged but adapted to skeleton and luge (by mitigating the hardest curves). In addition, new box seats will be built at the beginning, at the end and along the track. The restructuring is scheduled to begin in 2020 and the track is expected to be operational starting from the year before the Olympics in order to let the teams of all three disciplines test the track. It will be the only operative track in Italy, therefore it will likely be the venue for other competitions (Bobsleigh, Skeleton and Luge World Championships), both by Italian and international teams.
Ski Jumping Hill “Trampolino Italia”
The Ski Jumping Hill Trampolino Italia, preceded by a wooden ski jumping hill, was built for the 1956 Olympic Games and has hosted ski jumps and Nordic Combined competitions. Still today the legendary structure still greets visitors arriving to Cortina.
For the 2026 Olympics, there will be an enhancement of the ski jumping hill, whose historical but social value is very significant; it is indeed a landmark of sports and tradition and the area will host some ceremonies and activities during the Olympic Games.
In a spirit of sustainability, Cortina’s Olympic Village will consist of prefabricated buildings, with a very limited visual impact that after the event will be re-used in emergency management activities (earthquakes, floods, etc.) all over the country. The apartments will be equipped with solar panels, making them a sustainable housing option.
Viability between roads and tracks
The project includes the creation and modernisation both of viability and logistics: road sections, roundabouts, bridges, limited traffic areas. For example, by the end of summer 2020 the bike path will be enlarged in the segment going through Cortina.
A big piece of news of the winter season 2019-2020 is the new Col Druscié gondola that will replace the cable car. The first ride of the original Col Druscié cable car was in June 1969. In 2019, the legendary Tofana-Freccia nel Cielo cable car thus celebrated its 50 years anniversary and was ready to be renovated, both in view of the 2021 Ski World Championships and of the 2026 Winter Olympics. The new gondala will be operational starting from 21st December 2019, with an official inaugural event on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th January 2020. The project includes the replacement of the old cable car with new 10-seater booths, increasing its transport capacity from 700 to 1800 skiers per hour. The base station will be completely renovated as well, with new areas and services for the skiers and a new après-ski bar. It will have a middle station in Colfiere, so as to also replace the chair lift serving the slopes A and B of Col Druscié. The plant will also be a practical, fast and eco-friendly way to reach the arrival area of the 2020 Ski World Cup Finals and the 2021 World Ski Championships.
Another project ready in the 2019-20 winter season is new training and qualification ski track for the Super Giant Slalom and Slalom ski races, named after the famous alpinist from Cortina d’Ampezzo “Lino Lacedelli, will be built in the Cinque Torri ski area, equipped with a safety and snow-making system.
Lastly, another big novelty is the creation of a new cable way connecting Son de Prade to Bai de Dones; thereby, connecting the Tofana and Cinque Torri ski areas. The Cinque Torri ski area is part of the famous Great War Ski Tour and is connected, by the slope Armentarola, to Val Badia. The construction activities will be carried out between April and October 2020, with a final inspection before the start of the winter season 2020-2021.
“All our actions must have the minimum impact possible on the environment around us. After all, Cortina equals nature. The municipality is doing its part but what is of paramount importance is to convey the message that change is happening. That must be visible by our actions, starting from the upcoming 2021 Ski World Championships. Each and every citizen must play a proactive role in securing a sustainable future for Cortina” (Paola Coletti, Councillor for Education of the Municipality of Cortina d'Ampezzo).
Caring about the environment and managing the territory’s resources is in the core of Cortina, where for centuries the forests and pastures have been managed collectively, thus ensuring the respect and preservation of the territory.
Today, the Queen of the Dolomites has become an advocate of a sustainable lifestyle, not only in view of the major sporting events of the upcoming years but also to take up a global obligation and challenge, which highlights the urgency of an answer to climate change.
A plastic free Municipality
The Municipality of Cortina d’Ampezzo joined an initiative of the Ministry of the Environment to become more ecofriendly: together with the ban on using disposable plastic in all public offices, also restaurants and hotels and public events will banish single use plastic.
Starting from 1st January 2020 a resolution will come into force providing the guidelines for the planning of public events carried out under the patronage or with the contribution of the Municipality (with the mandatory complete ban on disposable plastic). An awareness campaign will then be launched starting from schools, by equipping every classroom with waste bins for the separate waste collection. The school directors were also involved to promote awareness activities, such as visits to the local landfill or to the local waste recovery plant.
2021 and 2026: sports care about the environment
The 2021 FIS World Ski Championships are committed to sustainability. The objectives that have been set are: 60% of purchases for the event must be eco-friendly, 60% of food and beverages must be of local origin or sustainable (from organic trade or fair-trade), 70% of the waste produced during the event must be separately collected to be recycled, 100% of carbon emissions must be compensated through farming and reforestation projects.
The 2026 Olympics will have a nearly zero footprint on the territory and a positive cost/income ratio for Italy. In addition, they will be inexpensive, as the organisers will mostly be using and renovating pre-existing facilities. The 2026 Milan Cortina candidacy has in fact prompted the start of the IOC’s 2020 Agenda and of the New Norm, the 2018 reform that makes the Olympic and Paralympic Games more sustainable, flexible and efficient, both from an operational and financial point of view. Milan, Cortina, Lombardy and Veneto have all made an important pledge to tackle climate change and guarantee a long-term sustainable development. Milan Cortina 2026 pledges to set up ambitious plans regarding carbon management and creating a carbon neutral event. It will also develop a risk analysis on the trends related to climate change that will potentially influence the communities involved.