Olympic season 2013/14 - ready, set, go!
Part I: From Kuusamo to the Triple
The wait is almost over! The season 2013/14 is about to explode into action and we can almost see the hustle and bustle of officials, service people, physiotherapists, journalists, coaches and athletes again who just have one question they would like to answer: who is this year's ultimate winter athlete? Well-known faces like Eric Frenzel and Jason Lamy Chappuis, Akito Watabe or Bernhard Guber will by vying for the wins and titles and try to keep new ascending talents off their backs.
And this winter will demand the utmost of the Nordic all-rounders with two massive season highlights waiting on the horizon: the Nordic Combined Triple and the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi! Two chances to show the World who the toughest man on skis is. On top of that, there is the World Cup overall, the crystal globe to decorate the skier who manages to be the most consistent all-rounder over a long period of time!
But let's take the time, lean back and have a look at every single venue in this extended season preview 2013/14.
Kuusamo: 30.11. & 01.12.
The wild ride of the winter 2013/14 kicks of in Kuusamo, Finland once more, the Nordic Opening uniting all three Nordic disciplines in a unique environment of darkness, cold and extreme weather & wind conditions - a special challenge at the beginning of the Olympic season which will be kicked off by a team event which will send patriotic feelings flying from the first second on. Will Norway's Magnus Krog, who hasn't been off the podium in Kuusamo for the last two years, strike again
in the following individual competition?
Lillehammer: 07.12. & 08.12.
The beginning of December takes the athletes to Lillehammer, Norway, another traditional venue which also features return to the a freshly overhauled Birkebeineren skistadium, the scene of the famous Lillehammer Olympics of 1994. Two individual competitions offer plenty of points for the overall World Cup and good chances to soak up Olympic atmosphere before Sochi. Here, the Norwegian local heroes can look back on a winning streak of three years: Kokslien in 2010, Klemetsen in 2011 and Magnus Moan twice in 2012. Will some other nation manage to steal the landlords' thunder this year?
Ramsau am Dachstein, 14.12. & 15.12.
Ramsau am Dachstein will see the return of the beloved Team Sprint and another another Individual Gundersen, offering enthusiastic crowds and beautiful mountain panoramas in this home World Cup for the Austrian athletes. What will Austrian youngster Mario Seidl show this season after he kicked off his international career bigtime last winter by winning the jumping competition with BIB number two.
Schonach: 21.12. & 22.12.
A pre-Christmas World Cup weekend in the cosy Blackforest town of Schonach will close the year 2013 with two Individual Gundersen competitions and the chance to get the hands on the traditional Schwarzwald-Pokal which has to be won three times in succession or five times in general to become the property of the winner. Can Jason Lamy Chappuis collect another victory and move further along the way to keep the trophy?
Chaikovsky: 04.01. & 05.01.
After Christmas, it's off to new shores for the Nordic Combined World Cup. First time World Cup organiser Chaikovsky is gearing up to welcome the Nordic Combined athletes for the "Russian dress rehearsal", only six weeks before everybody will return to Russian soil to fight for Olympic gold. Shun Yamamoto (JPN) and Geoffrey Lafarge both have won Continental Cup competitions in Chaikovsky last year and can maybe use that advantage over their World Cup colleagues.
Chaux-Neuve: 11.01. & 12.01.
From the depths of Russia it's back to traditional Nordic Combined ground as another highlight of the Nordic Combined World Cup is on schedule: an Individual Gundersen and a Team Sprint in Chaux-Neuve, France. Local hero Jason Lamy Chappuis and his Fiemme-gold-decorated teammates draw large crowds of up to 15.000 spectators into the tiny French village with about 300 inhabitants, transforming the weekend into a folk festival without comparison.
Seefeld: 17.01., 18.01. & 19.01.
The Nordic Combined Triple does not only feature three competitions, no it's also the third venue in the new year of the Nordic Combined World Cup. No matter who wins here this year will be making history by being the first Triple winner ever! Superstar Eric Frenzel has good chances to add this honour to his title collection as he won in Seefeld two times in a row last year.
... to be continued!