After a very productive Nordic Combined Committee meeting in Costa Navarino and big decisions for the Nordic Combined ladies, Race Director Lasse Ottesen looks back on the past and into the future in this edition of TUESDAY TALK.
Before we get to the current developments in Nordic Combined a quick look back. Where do we stand with Nordic Combined after this past winter?
Lasse Ottesen: I can well and truly say last season was a success. Winter showed itself from its best side with lots of snow and cold temperatures. Our organisers, who we’d like to thank for their dedicated work, prepared and handled our events in a very good way and we saw great sports moments from our athletes.
We have seen a good growth in the number of events over the last few years, the TV ratings are rising steadily and we see many positive signals in our development programs like the FIS Youth Cup as one example. Again, I’d like to thank all National Ski Associations and Organising Committees who have done a tremendous job the last years to support Nordic Combined.
The FIS Congress in Costa Navarino has just wrapped up last week. In which direction would you say Nordic Combined is headed in the future?
Ottesen: Men’s Nordic Combined has a good standing in Middle Europe and Scandinavia. We are going to work on building its popularity in Asia and Eastern Europe in the coming years. Ladies Nordic Combined will see it’s first championship this coming winter and we are thrilled to see the support around Ladies’ Nordic Combined.
How is the development of the women’s side of the discipline going?
Ottesen: We started with our Youth Cup for boys and girls in 2014 and presented a strategic plan for Ladies’ Nordic Combined to the Nordic Combined Committee and the FIS Council in Fall 2016. In this document, all steps for the development of Ladies’ Nordic Combined were defined and for now, we are on target.
We had the first Continental Cup events for ladies in the past season. Congratulations to over first-ever female overall COC winner Stefaniya Nadymova from Russia. We will see the first official Junior World Championship event next winter in Lahti after a very successful test event in Kandersteg (SUI) this year. In the following year, the Nordic Combined ladies will make their debut at the Youth Olympic Winter Games in Lausanne.
We updated the stretegy document with a status report this spring. Both documents can be found here:
A question that has been asked a lot is when we can expect a Ladies’ World Cup?
Ottesen: In our strategic document, it has been foreseen for the 2020/21 season. A long-term plan for the Ladies’ inaugural World Cup season will be presented to the Nordic Combined Committee at the next meeting in September, so watch out for more news around that time.
Which are the biggest changes that we will see for the 2018/19 season?
Ottesen: In line with our careful, soft development of the discipline over the past Olympic circle, we have only adjusted a few minor things in the rules.
The two big, visible novelties will be the inclusion of the ladies in the Junior World Championship program in Lahti and the Mass Start event within the Lillehammer Tour at the beginning of last winter.
In the Lillehammer Tour, the athletes will start with a 1 jump, 5 km Individual Gundersen on the first day. On the second day, all athletes start in a 10 km cross-country race and the best 50 move on to a final round of ski jumping with full judging of the style and the wind a gate factor (this is a big difference to the Mass Start event that was used in the past). It is basically a “Reverse Gundersen” in the truest sense of the word. The tour will conclude with a normal 10 km Indidivual Gundersen event on the last day. The athlete with the most World Cup points from the three events wins the tour ranking. The athletes do not take their results from the previous day with them. This is something we reserve for our season highlight, the TRIPLE.
As you just mentioned the TRIPLE, why has it been moved to Chaux-Neuve in the upcoming season?
Ottesen: The Nordic Combined TRIPLE had to be moved from its customary venue in Seefeld due to the World Championships taking place there only a little while later. We are very happy that another of Nordic Combined’s traditional host venues, Chaux-Neuve, will stage the TRIPLE in the upcoming winter. We are convinced that the TRIPLE competitions at this Nordic Combined heartland will be outstanding and already look forward to the unique atmosphere in France.