Cross-Country Talk: FIS Cross-Country Race Director Pierre Mignerey
Right after the World Cup Final FIS Cross-Country News talked to the Cross-Country race director Pierre Mignerey.
Q: Looking back to the season that has just ended, how was it for you?
P.M.: Due to the mild winter and snow conditions the last season was very challenging. Even though we did not cancel any single competition, we were quite close a few times. It was not an easy winter. We learned that we have to be better prepared. Without good snow conditions we cannot expect to have good events. We have to focus more on snow production, snow storage and snow guarantee.
Q: Was the last season interesting for Cross-Country skiing fans?
P.M.: I think it was a very interesting season. We could enjoy the open fight for the Overall World Cup on the ladies’ side until the last competition. Among men Martin Johnsrud Sundby was dominant during the whole season. It was an outstanding performance of his to win all the “tour events” in one season. We had very interesting competitions in the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. Of course Norwegian athletes, especially ladies, were very strong the whole winter but they had very strong competitors such as Charlotte Kalla, the Finns who have made a big step forward or U.S. ladies who came up again with new athletes.
Q: Having the Olympic Winter Games and long World Cup winter behind, were you satisfied with the Jury work?
P.M.: Yes, I am satisfied. Especially on the World Cup level Jury members are more and more professional, they work together more often, they know each other better. I am glad we did not have any big issues and I think we did not do any big mistakes. Naturally, coaches, athletes, fans discuss various decisions and there can be different opinions, but in general the consistency and quality of Jury work has improved.
Q: What was the biggest improvement during the last season and what needs to be improved?
P.M.: I think the biggest improvement was the wax cabins. It was a big task for our Organizing Committees to change tents and big halls for wax cabins. They put a lot of effort in this issue and they made a big step forward. Perhaps it is not visible for spectators or TV viewers but our teams have now much better working conditions. Our goal is to develop and improve team areas even further.
As for issues we need to focus on in the future, there are first of all snow conditions. We will work together with organizers on plans and measures how to guarantee a sufficient amount snow for our World Cups, may it be snow storage, snow production or other solutions. Course design and field of play organization are also important issues, which have to make a working mix.
Q: What about the TV production?
P.M.: The TV production was very good this season. Fortunately we did not have any major problems as in the years before. Challenging snow conditions, which caused course changes made also TV production not easy, however, we were lucky to have experienced and skilled producers and directors on site.
On the other hand we will have to find a good compromise how to set the interval starting order when we have difficult snow conditions. We should have 2-3 versions that will be acceptable both for athletes, teams and television.
Q: Last weekend the Falun hosted World Cup Final. Is Falun ready to host World Championships next year?
P.M.: Due to lack of snow we could not check all the courses but we were able to test most important parts, which will be mostly used in all competition formats. The OC made a big improvement and both athletes and coaches were happy. The course design allows many spectators to watch competitions very close to tracks and the finish will be spectacular and will look great on TV. The overall layout with waxing area, ski testing, etc. has improved a lot. Falun is on the right way for the World Championships and will be a great organizers of World Cups.
Q: Spring is usually the time to prepare rule changes for the next season. How is it in Cross-Country?
P.M.: There are not many things to be changed. In the ICR we will for sure discuss the “corridor rule”. In the World Cup rules there won’t big changes either. In general the system is working well and will only try to clarify or improve wording of some articles.
Q: Is the calendar for the next season set?
P.M.: Yes, it is mostly set and it has been also approved by the FIS council. In the spring we will be mainly discussing a few adjustments of competition formats. There are more open issues in the calendar for the 2015/16. One of the biggest tasks will be to discuss and approve the final concept of the “Canadian Tour” in February 2016 and World Cup schedule in the period before Canada.