Beijing’s Bird’s Nest to host historic FIS Freestyle competition
On 20th and 21st of December, 2013, the FIS Freestyle World Cup tour will be taking to the skies of the capital city of the largest nation on Earth in one of the most breathtaking venues in the world, when back-to-back aerials competitions will be held at the Beijing National Stadium, perhaps better known as the “Bird's Nest.”
FIS Freestyle Race Director Joe Fitzgerald has just returned to Europe from a trip to Beijing, where he was on hand to check the progress and finalise arrangements for what promises to be one of the biggest events of the 2013/14 FIS Freestyle World Cup season.
The“Bird's Nest” was initially built to host the opening ceremony, closing ceremony, and many of the marquee events of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. It is regarded by many to be one of the world's most beautiful manmade structures and, with a gross volume of three million cubic meters, is also considered to be the world's largest enclosed space.
During the Olympics, the stadium had a capacity of 91000 spectators, though that number has since been reduced to 80000 with the removal of some temporary Olympic seating. 36km of unwrapped steel were used in its construction, making it also the world's largest steel structure. Any way you slice it, the Bird's Nest is an impressive venue.
Despite its pedigree, it seems safe to say that few people up until now would have conceived of the stadium as the setting for a World Cup skiing competition. However, in partnership with the Chinese Ski Association, Beijing Sport Bureau, Beijing National Stadium Co. Limited, and Brilliant Culture Group Limited, FIS Freestyle will be bringing just such a competition to centre field this Decemeber.
A release from the Chinese Ski Association provides an excellent summary of the successful partnership with FIS Freestyle and some background into why the 2013 Beijing aerials competition is truly going to be a unique event:
“The Chinese Ski Association has organized FIS Freestyle Skiing aerials World Cup events for ten consecutive seasons. The race organization and the venue preparation have been highly thought of and well-evaluated by FIS, the various national associations on hand, and the athletes themselves. However, this is the first time that FIS will host a World Cup event not only in the capital of China, but also in the intra-urban setting of Beijing. And, in another 'First,' the competition venue of the National Stadium will be the first Summer Olympic venue to hold an event that will be featured in the Winter Olympics. For both the Chinese Ski Association and for FIS this is a designation of note.”
An agreement has been signed to make the Beijing event an annual one until at least the conclusion of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Korea. As well, this year's event will be shown on live TV to a potential audience of over 200 million viewers. When one factors in the size of the Beijing National Stadium and the prodigiousness of the Chinese aerials team – team members Xu Mengtao and Jia Zongyang are last year's respective ladies' and men's aerials Crystal Globe winners – all things are aligned to make the Beijing stop one of the biggest in any of the FIS disciplines.
In a speech to the Chinese Ski Association, the organizers of the event, and collected media, Fitzgerald had this to say: “This new event in Beijing is to be held in one of the world's great sporting landmarks, and within the "Bird's Nest" stadium we anticipate an amazing and compelling competition for the people of Beijing. Together, with the performances of the Chinese aerial team, the iconic location, and in this winter Olympic season, this World Cup aerials event will generate a tremendous amount of interest in the promotion of skiing and winter sports.”
We hope that the media and the people of Beijing take a great interest and support this competition by attending. Everyone will be witness to absolutely spectacular winter sports competition as athletes from around the world compete while trying to earn an Olympic team spot for the 2014 Games in Sochi.
This event would not be possible without the leadership and support of the Chinese Ski Association, nor without the support of the key sponsors for this competition. I would like to thank all of those that have worked so hard to make this competition a reality, and I look forward to attending this competition in December 2013 and in the coming seasons up until the Olympic Games in Korea in 2018.