Going in with a bang: Season 2013/14 gets underway in Kuusamo!
The wait is over! From this weekend on it will be all about races, results, points and podiums again for the elite of the Nordic Combined athletes when their season starts in Kuusamo, Finland.
The winter season, peppered with highlights like the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi and the Nordic Combined Triple in Seefeld, will have a flying start near the Finnish polar circle where the fortitude of the athletes will be tested to the maximum right at the beginning. Known for often difficult conditions and extreme cold, Ruka's HS 142 Rukatunturi hill will demand the utmost of concentration and a tough cross-country course a maximum of stamina - the perfect venue to find out who is among the best of the ultimate winter athletes of Nordic Combined!
Germany's Tino Edelmann knows the venue well and can look back on triumph and defeat here: "Everything's possible in Kuusamo because the hill is not easy to jump and can have difficult conditions. The track is one of the hardest ones in the World Cup. If it is very cold and the snow a little blunt, we will see who is in the best shape very quickly."
All three disciplines are gathered together in Ruka, a small ski resort about 30 kilometres away from Kuusamo which offers alpine slopes but also two ski jumping hills and many cross-country tracks only a 5-minute walk from the cosy village centre. A closeness and chance of contact across discipline borders that the athletes appreciate: "I like the atmosphere when we all are gathered together, Cross-country, Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping", Norwegian Magnus Krog explains. It's more show during the competition days, and I feel this gives me an extra touch of excitement. When I can handle this in the right way, it helps with my performance".
As this is the season opening, the first competitions (a Team Event on Saturday and an Individual Gundersen compeptiion on Sunday) will be mostly about getting a feeling for the level of performance required in this Olympic winter and to see how the competition is doing. Big names like Eric Frenzel and Jason Lamy Chappuis will certainly be the standard that everyone is comparing to. "It isn't easy to jump in Kuusamo due to the difficult weather conditions, so the older and more experiences athletes will have an advantage," Austria's head coach Christoph Eugen predicts. But as we know, the sport always writes its own stories. We certainly can't wait for the first chapter in the book of 2013/14.
Program (local times! CET -1h)
10:00 Official training HS 142
12:00 Provisional Competition Round/Qualification
15:30 Official training cross-country
08:45 Trial Round HS 142
09:45 TEAM EVENT Competition Round HS 142
14:30 TEAM EVENT 4 x 5 km cross-country race
09:15 Trial Round HS 142
10:15 INDIVIDUAL GUNDERSEN Competition Round HS 142
15:30 INDIVIDUAL GUNDERSEN 10 km cross-country race
NC Hill Record: Eric Frenzel 148,5 m (2010)
Kilparata Race Course
2,5 km loop
Total climb: 83 metres
Maximum climb: 55 metres