For a decade, Paul Mathews wandered all over the Caucasus region in Russia as part of his journey to build Rosa Khutor, the alpine venue at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
"I went on a big magical mystery tour, with about 35 deputy ministers, ministers, and police, looking all over the Caucasus by private plane, by helicopter and by jeep," said Matthews in an interview with CBC Radio's Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.
"We said easily you can make an Olympics here," said Matthews, the president of Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners.
Undaunted by the remote location of the Caucasus, Matthews drew on his early resort planning years for a source of inspiration.
"I'm from British Columbia, and they used to say we are in the middle of nowhere," says Matthews."That's what they told us in Whistler, because the guys from Colorado told us we had no chance, and now we have five million visitors."
Matthews, a veteran skier himself, is no stranger to course design since 1975 he has overseen the planning and design of over 360 major mountain resort projects in 38 countries including four Olympics and the next one in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018 —
But he says there were plenty of challenges in designing Rosa Khutor. for Sochi.
"There was every challenge you can imagine, " said Matthews, but he says the Olympic deadline and the budget ensured the project got done.
Still, Matthews, like the parent of an Olympic athlete, admits he still is tense when he watches the athletes compete on his course.
"When I see these kids fall, and hurt themselves, so I'm always wondering what was wrong with that, so I'm a lousy fan."