Let the Games begin - the Pre-Olympics in Sochi coming up!
When the World Cup circus arrives in Sochi on Thursday, it will be the first time since the competitions in St. Petersburg (which was even called Leningrad back then) 23 years ago that the top level of the Nordic Combined sports is returning to Russian soil, just in time for the last big test events before the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi next year.
"We are pleased to have international competitions in Nordic Combined back in Russia", national team members Ivan Panin, Ernest Yahin and Niav Nabeev said in the course of the Continental Cup which just took place in Chaikovskiy three weeks ago. "Of course, will try to make everyone feel at home as much as possible and show the maximum of what we can do. We look at all Russian and international competitions as a step towards the Olympic Games."
The last preparations for the event are in full swing right now and especially the snow situation proved to be a little challenging for the organisers. "We have carried 1500 m3 snow from the mountains in the last two days. At the same time, we are training our 150 sport volunteers.", Nikolay Petrov, Sports and Competition Manager at Russki Gorki Park explains which measure are going on in Sochi right now. Though the weather and temperatures are warm right now, the weather forecast is predicting a cool down to -1/-2 °C from January 31st onwards which will help with the snow production.
As far as the testing of the venue for the Olympics in 2014 goes, the stadium set-up will be set up as similar as possible to the planned layout of the Olympics itself: "For the first time in Olympic history, start and finish of the Nordic Combined events will be in the outrun of the ski jumping stadium. At this year's World Cup, we want to come as close to the Olympic layout as possible. It is a true rehearsal", Nikolay Petrov says.
It will also be a dress rehearsal for the Russian national team which has been switching between World and Continental Cup this season and is under pressure to deliver good results leading up the the Olympics in their home country.
"We understand that better results are expected from us, and we will do everything we can to use the potential accumulated in out team. The final stage of preparations for the World Championships, we will have at the Sochi Olympic venues and I think if the weather conditions are with us, we will be able show the results of our extensive training and hard work," head coach Leonid Chaschyn promises. Not only for the Russians, a definitely exciting World Cup weekend lies ahead!
You can find the full schedule here.