March 29 - A new initiative has been announced in Pyeongchang to help develop local ski jumping facilities and provide youngsters with the opportunity to participate in the sport.

Jin-Sun Kim, the Governor of Gangwon Province and co-chairman of the Pyeongchang 2018 Bid Committee, and Young Choi, chief executive of Gangwon Land, signed the deal (pictured below).

The agreement between Gangwon Province and Gangwon Land, a leisure and entertainment resort, will enable ski jump athletes at Gangwon Province’s High1 Sports Club and young ski jump prospects to have access to the ski jump venue at Pyeongchang’s Alpensia Resort.

Gangwon Land is also supporting the development of ski jumping by investing $4 million (£2.6 million) on equipment and coaching over the next four years in the hope that a medal contender might emerge in time for the 2018 Olympics if Pyeongchang is chosen to host the Games ahead of rivals Annecy and Munich.

Gangwon Land will also manage the "Youth Club Ski Jump" to help encourage young people to participate and grow the popularity of the sport.

Kim said: "We are very proud of our world class experience in ice sports, particularly short track speed skating and figure skating, and the excellent performances of our athletes at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games highlighted our strength in these disciplines.

"We now look to improve our performances in other winter sports and this landmark investment will provide us with the momentum to inspire young people to participate in ski jumping, help develop their skills, and grow further interest in winter sports.”

Pyeongchang’s Alpensia resort, where the ski jump venue is based, is one of the principal Olympic clusters in Pyeongchang’s 2018 Games Plan and would be the location of the main Olympic Village and several competition venues.

Gangwon Land manages the High1 Sports Club which includes athletes and teams that compete nationally and internationally in a number of sports including ice hockey, ski jumping and alpine skiing.

Many Olympians and Paralympians who participated at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games are members of the High1 Sports Club.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) are due to annouce the host city at its Session in Durban on July 6, 2011.

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