Before the opening competitions of the FIS Ski Jumping Grand Prix on 14th and 15th July 2017 in Wisla (POL), FIS interviewed Race Director Walter Hofer to find out what’s ahead.
This summer, the famous series kicks off in Wisla. What can we expect?
Wisla and Poland have been true highlights on the Ski Jumping calendar known for a fantastic fan atmosphere. The Jumping Committee has chosen Wisla for the season opener for both, summer and winter.
This time, a system will be tested with no pre-qualified athletes. All ski jumpers will need to go through the qualification round. What is the idea behind this new system?
When the qualification was introduced, we still had to go through many athletes with one gate. This would have meant to start with a low gate for the whole round and still you didn’t know whether the gate would be accurate for the very best as well. Therefore, we wanted to be sure that we could complete the qualification round on time. This was one of the main reasons to prequalify the best.
Since we have introduced the wind/gate system, the Jury has been able to change the in-run speed during the competition and continue without having to restart.
So, during the Grand Prix, we will be testing the system that all jumpers must participate in the qualification round. The results will be evaluated during the next Jumping Committee meeting in autumn.
What else is new at this year’s Grand Prix?
Apart from the new qualification rule, there is only one slight change for the jumping suit control system. Since we are going into an Olympic season, the Jumping Committee didn’t want to introduce too many changes.
The famous series will embark on its 24th edition for the men and sixth for the ladies. How is the ladies’ side developing?
Very promising. We are witnessing a growing number of participants and this is very important. New faces, new names and new nations are entering the international level.
With the Olympic Winter Games on the horizon, how important is the Grand Prix for athletes preparing for the Games?
An Olympic season always includes some nations that are trying to go their individual ways. Senior athletes sometimes need a separate set up for training whilst younger athletes need to compete as much as possible. For this reason, there will be a higher fluctuation of athletes and names at the summer competitions.
Aside from the PyeongChang 2018 Games, what other highlights can we look forward to next season?
As every season, the FIS Ski Jumping calendar boasts a number of top events. On the men’s side, these include the prestigious Four-Hills Tournament, the Ski Flying World Championships in Oberstdorf (GER), the second edition of the “Raw Air” series and naturally the fight for the overall World Cup globe which will again be presented at the season finals in Planica (SLO).