Ski Jumping Season Review with Walter Hofer and Chika Yoshida
In this week’s Newflash, the men’s and ladies‘ Ski Jumping Race Directors Walter Hofer and Chika Yoshida share their thoughts on the past season and look ahead to the future.
What’s your general evaluation of the 2013/14 season?
Walter Hofer: From an organisational point of view the events were heavily affected by difficult external conditions. But thanks to our excellent Organising Committees we were able to hold all World Cup competitions. Unfortunately, the team event of the Ski Flying World Championships in Harrachov (CZE) had to be cancelled.
From a sporting point of view it was a great season with 14 different winners from eight nations. This is a fantastic feedback for the entire Ski Jumping family and for the further development of our discipline.
Chika Yoshida: On the ladies’ side, it was also difficult in terms of weather but we still had an excellent season with a lot of unforgettable and emotional moments. 19 individual and one mixed team competition at eleven different venues were on our calendar, and only one had to be cancelled. There were two premiere events with new World Cup Organisers in Chaikovsky (RUS) and Rasnov (ROU). Both events showed the growing interest from spectators and media in ladies‘ Ski Jumping. We had great atmosphere, not only at these new venues, but also in Slovenia and Japan. Our series is growing steadily. Looking back, we are very happy with this successful season.
How about the pre-World Championships test events in Sweden? Is Falun ready to host the major event next year?
Chika Yoshida: Our test events, together with the World Cup Finals of Nordic Combined and Cross-Country Skiing, were held successfully. There are still some small details that have to be improved, but the Organising Committee is working very professionally and all involved people are highly motivated. There is no doubt that there will be a lot of excitement and great stories next winter!
Walter Hofer: Thanks to excellent preparations and a smooth run-down, we didn’t receive any complaints from athletes or coaches. The volunteers and officials did a fantastic job and created a great atmosphere. Although the facility was still partly under construction, all aspects related to the competition itself went well. We had a test for wind protection and agreed on a few modifications on the large hill.
What are the major topics on the agenda for the near future?
Walter Hofer: With regard to the athletes’ performance, the topics of safety and security will remain our focus. A new standard for safety helmets will be introduced and some slight modifications to the jumping suits were proposed to reduce the landing speed and impact. Furthermore, a new Ski Flying competition format will be tested during the Grand Prix individual series.
For the first time last winter the so-called laser line was used. How was the feedback?
Walter Hofer: The feedback was excellent, even if the system was just partly used by a so- called in-door laser. For the upcoming season an even stronger beamer is being prepared which can show the laser line in daytime conditions. This system would greatly improve the viewer’s experience on TV and on-site.
The ladies had their first Olympic Winter Games ever. What kind of feedback did you receive after Sochi?
Chika Yoshida: The first appearance of ladies‘ Ski Jumping was truly successful and we received a lot of positive feedback. The first ever Olympic Champion was Carina Vogt (GER) and the other two medals went to Daniela Iraschko-Stolz (AUT) and Corine Mattel (FRA). The competition was tight and thrilling for the spectators. It was good promotion for ladies‘ Ski Jumping. During the entire season, the TV interest increased significantly. Fans will hopefully have even more opportunities to watch it live on TV in the future.