As customary after the FIS Autumn Meetings, FIS Nordic Combined Race Director Lasse Ottesen speaks about the confirmed calendars, answers some questions about how this winter will be different and shines a spotlight on the historic season to come: the premiere of the Women’s World Cup and their World Championship debut.
You have been very busy with making A-, B- and C-plans over the summer, yet the final calendar doesn’t look too different from the version we have seen in spring. Why did you decide against a block solution with more competitions in the same countries or considerably fewer venues, like in Biathlon?
Lasse Ottesen: First of all, it has been a very different summer and fall for all of us. The main goal from when we started planning has been to be able to stay as closely as possible to the calendar we presented in spring. It is the best solution for our National Ski Federations and Organisers.
With the very changing situation around the world, it has not been easy to confirm any events at all. Therefore, l would like to thank all the NSA’s and the Organisers for their great work during the summer in regards to the Covid-19 prevention planning and the confirmation of the Nordic Combined World Cup calendars.
How exactly will travel and event Covid-19 prevention measures work this winter?
Ottesen: The national and local rules and regulations at the respective World Cup venues will be priority number one. They are supported by the FIS Covid-19 Guidelines and testing protocol. So on site, different Covid-19 rules and regulations are in place for each venue and we are confident about being able to host fascinating events while taking care of the health and safety of all participants.
The biggest challenge for us are travel restrictions. All our National Ski Associations are working with their governments to find the best possible solutions for our events this coming winter. We are in full support to all our National Ski Associations and Organising Committees to help with the process.
What if different nations are banned from entering countries where the World Cup is held. Does it have to be cancelled then?
Ottesen: Together with all disciplines in FIS, we have implemented a 70% rule. 7 of the top 10 nations from last winter’s Nations Cup ranking must be able to travel to and from the venue in question without quarantine 30 days before the event starts. If this prerequisite is met, we will confirm the event as a World Cup event. If not, the FIS Event Task Force Group will evaluate what can be done.
The Nordic Combined women will make their World Cup debut this winter. Why is their calendar so much smaller than then men’s?
Ottesen: We are immensely proud to be introducing the Nordic Combined women to the world with their own World Cup tour this winter. We have seen a fantastic development the last years and now we are looking ahead to a historic Nordic Combined season.
We will have Lillehammer and Otepää on the World Cup calendar and Park City (USA), Rena (NOR), Eisenerz (AUT) and Nizhny Tagil (RUS) on the women’s Continental Cup calendar. So in total, the women will have a full season ahead of them with the World Cup weekend and of course the FIS Nordic World Ski Championship debut as the highlights.
The men’s calendar is a solid one this year and features many highlights from the TRIPLE to the Beijing 2022 test events to the World Championships. What are you personally looking forward to this season?
Ottesen: As every season l am looking forward to present the best of Nordic Combined to the world, with several great events on the way towards the season highlight with the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Oberstdorf, GER.
As you said, the World Championships in Oberstdorf will undoubtedly be the highlight of the season. What does it mean to you personally to finally see the Nordic Combined women included here, a process you have started with the first international Youth Cup ins 2014?
Ottesen: I am very proud to be able to see the Nordic Combined women included in the World Championship programme 2021. We have seen a great support from all National Ski Associations and clubs around the world, and l am sure that this is only one step of the great development of Women’s Nordic Combined in the future.