FIS World Cup 2013/14 - A winter full of highlights
The 2013/14 winter is a very special one for the the ski jumpers. Besides the 4-Hills-Tournament in Germany and Austria (Oberstdorf, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Innsbruck and Bischofshofen) from Dec. 29th - Jan. 6th and the Ski Flying World Championships in Harrachov (CZE) from March 13th - March 16th, the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi (RUS) are on the schedule from Feb. 7th - Feb. 23rd. This is the top event for the men, for the ladies it even is a historical milestone.
But first things first.
For the men the FIS World Cup will not kick off in Scandinavia late November as usual, but in Central Europe, precisely in Klingenthal, Germany. Two factors were crucial for the decision of the FIS to move the World Cup opener from the far north to Central Europe.
• Snow: A snow depot, that was set up right next to the hill in Klingenthal last winter, guarantees that there will be enough snow in order to get the hill ready for the World Cup opener on November 23rd and 24th.
• Atmosphere / spectators: With a sold out stadium and a great atmosphere, Klingenthal was a highlight of the winter in the past years, although the competition was always held during the week. In contrast, there was not much of a special atmosphere for the opening event in front of only a few spectators in Kuusamo (FIN) and Lillehammer (NOR).
After Klingenthal, the series continues in Kuusamo (FIN). A traditional venue for the FIS World Cup, located near the Arctic Circle, which has been part of the Ski Jumping World Cup calendar for many years. Experts know: Athletes and spectators can look forward to temperatures below -20°C, if anyone is actually looking forward to such extremely low temperatures. (Nov. 29th and 30th)
Third stop: Lillehammer (NOR)
Lillehammer is the third venue of the winter for the men. At the same time, it will also be the start of the World Cup season for the ladies. Important points for the Nation's Cup can be scored in this winter's only mixed team competition. (Dec. 6th and 7th)
After a long break (the last World Cup on the "Hochfirstschanze" was held in 2007), Titisee-Neustadt is back on the calendar of the Ski Jumping World Cup. In the past, the temperatures and the snow always caused worries for the organizers in the Black Forest at such an early point of the season, but they won't have these problems this time. Just like in Klingenthal, they also set up a snow depot at the hill already last winter. (Dec. 14th and 15th)
The only Swiss location on the ski jumping calendar has been an inherent part of the series for many years. The events are traditionally held on the last weekend before Christmas and serve as the final test for the 4-Hills-Tournament. Who is among the best in Engelberg, is also one of the favorites at the 4-Hills-Tournament. (Dec. 21st and 22nd)
Oberstdorf, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Innsbruck, Bischofshofen
Crowd magnet, highlight, 4 competitions - 4 locations - one overall ranking
The 4-Hills-Tournament is the world's most popular sports event at this time of year and attracts huge interest of the media and the public every year. And rightly so. There's nothing more to say. (Dec. 29th - Jan. 6th)
You can get tickets for the 4-Hills-Tournament here:
Bad Mitterndorf / Kulm (AUT)
After a break last year, the "Kulm" is back on the ski jumping calendar. The "Kulm" is located between the two communities of Bad Mitterndorf and Tauplitz. All three terms are used to describe the huge ski flying hill Kulm. Experts know, that there will not only be long flights but also the atmosphere will reach the fever pith despite the frosty temperatures. For many years, the great atmosphere at the Kulm is guaranteed by two-time 4-Hills-Tournament winner Hubert "Hupo" Neuper and his team. (Jan. 11th - 12th)
Wisla and Zakopane (POL)
Thanks to Adam Malysz, the great atmosphere that athletes and spectators got to experience at the World Cup events in Poland over the last years is legendary. Since Adam Malysz started his unique winning streak in the 2000/2001 season (The results of Adam Malysz »), the World Cup is unimaginable without Zakopane. With Wisla (only about 130 km from Zakopane), there's a second location with a similar atmosphere. The competition in Wisla is held on January 16th, Zakopane follows on the 18th and 19th.
The home event for Noriaki Kasai, Daiki Ito and their teammates. The only two competitions in Asia take place under (most of the time) difficult conditions in front of the fantastic backdrop of Sapporo, a city of two million. For some athletes these two competitions are a highlight of the winter, others skip the events in Japan due to the long trip and the full World Cup calendar. (Jan. 25th and 26th)
Cult event in Germany. Similar to Zakopane and Adam Malysz, Willingen earned it's reputation as a "cult location" during the high times of Sven Hannawald and Martin Schmitt. But also in times when the German athletes were not among the best, Willingen organized a great World Cup weekend at the "Muehlenkopfschanze" with tireless effort and creativity. Now the local heroes are on top again and therefore the crowd will raise the roof on February 1st and 2nd.
Sochi (RUS) Olympic Winter Games
Feb. 9th + 11th + 15th + 17th
Sports history will be made on these four days at the Olympic Games in Sochi, the dates can already be marked in the personal calendars. The ladies will get the chance to win their first ever Olympic medals on the normal hill HS 106 on February 11th. The men will have competitions on the normal hill (Feb. 9th), the large hill HS 140 (Feb. 15th) and a team event, also on the large hill (Feb. 17th). Excitement and drama guaranteed.
Believe it or not, it's been 12 years since Falun hosted a ski jumping World Cup event. Two Finns and two Germans were on the podium on March 13, 2002 in the last World Cup in Sweden: Matti Hautamaeki won ahead of Martin Schmitt, Janne Ahonen and Sven Hannawald shared the third place. Now the Nordic World Championships will be held in Falun 2015 and so a World Cup competition will take place in the home country of Jan Bokloev as a test event for the Championships. (Feb. 26th)
Was there ever a World Cup winter without an event in Lahti? Probably yes, but it seems like there wasn't. With its great facilities and the Lahti Ski Games, an FIS World Cup calendar cannot be imagined without Lahti. Besides the ski jumpers, also the cross country skiers and nordic combined athletes will be competing. The weekend in Lahti offers winter sports on the highest level and is also always a festival in Finland. (March 1st and 2nd)
Also Kuopio, 300 km north of Lahti, has a great tradition in ski jumping. It's the home town of big names of the sport, like the Hautamaeki brothers and Ari-Pekka Nikkola. After a two year break in the 2011 and 2012 World Cup, Kuopio made an impressive return last winter. Remarkable: The current hill record on the HS 127 Puijo-hill in Kuopio was set by Japanese Masahiko Harada on March 4th, 1998.
After Lillehammer in December, Trondheim is the second stop in Norway. With 180 000 inhabitants, Trondheim is the third-largest city in Norway and with the historic city center it's maybe the most beautiful stop of the winter for the ski jumpers. The hill at the Granasen has a HS of 140. Trondheim hosted the Nordic World Championships in 1997. (March 7th)
Fascination Holmenkollen. The Holmenkollenbakken is located on the Holmenkollen mountain in the city of Oslo. The hill is considered the world's oldest ski jumping hill. But this of course, only refers to the location, because the Holmenkollenbakken, that was built for the Nordic World Championships in 2011, is just as modern as it is impressive. A sightseeing trip to Oslo would not be complete without a tour of this facility. (March 9th)
Harrachov (CZE) Ski Flying World Championships
The Ski Flying World Champions 2014 will be crowned in Harrachov. The last Championships in Harrachov were memorable. On March 10th, 2002 Sven Hannawald took the title ahead of Martin Schmitt and Matti Hautamaeki. Back then the second day of competition was canceled due to strong wind. For the 2014 Championships the organizers spared neither efforts nor costs and installed a new wind net, so the fans can look forward to exciting competitions on March 14th, 15th (individual) and 16th (team).
The final in Planica. Tradition - long flights - excitement - cult. Even if the event will not be held on the flying hill this time, but on the new large hill HS 139, the season's final competitions in Slovenia will be exciting. The reconstruction of the flying hill could not be started on time, so the decision to move the season final to the large hill was made early. With some luck, the overall World Cup will not be decided before the final events, then excitement is guaranteed - as so often in Planica.
Did you notice it? It will be a long, long winter ...