FIS Grand Prix 2014 - Fourth stop Hakuba
The effort of the more than 20-hour trip in addition to a time difference of 7 hours to Central Europe is intense, but still Hakuba is worth it. For most athletes, the trip to Japan, and to the city located about 300 km northwest of Tokyo, takes about five days, two of which are required for the trip.
The flight from Frankfurt, Munich or Zurich to Tokyo takes about 11 hours, some of the teams might need additional flights for example from Prague or Oslo, and then there is the ride with the Japanese high-speed train Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano. The trip is long and exhausting, but at the same time it is also exciting.
Hakuba is a winter sports resort with about 10 000 inhabitants where many tourists from Australia and the USA spend their winter vacations. The snow sometimes piles up to a couple of meters. In summer the Chübu region in the Nagano prefecture with its 3000 m-high mountains is a popular hiking area.
In 1998 the Olympic medals in the ski jumping events of the Olympic Games in Nagano were awarded at the hills in Hakuba.
Jani Soininen (NH), Kazuyoshi Funaki (LH) and the team of Japan won Gold and the celebrations at the hills in Hakuba were unforgettable.
16 years after the Olympic Games the facility is still in a great condition and is regularly used for training, national competitions and the FIS Grand Prix. This is a prime example for the sustainability of Olympic facilities after the Games.
From a sporting point of view, a prediction will not be possible until after the training. Of course the top athletes of last summer, who are all competing here, will be among the best: Noriaki Kasai, Simon Ammann and Jernej Damjan are the favorites for a podium result in the two competitions in Hakuba 2014. Also young Norwegian Phillip Sjoeen, who is the best in the overall ranking of the jumpers in Japan, has to be considered among the favorites.
After the testing phase recently, the competitions in Hakuba will be carried out with old format of the past winter again. This means two competition rounds and no groups. There will be no qualification in Hakuba, because only 48 athletes are competing.