After a two-week Christmas break, the Nordic Combined World Cup is back in Italy from 6. - 9. January 2022 and starts the new year with a highlight right away.
With the World Cup premier of the Mixed Team, Val di Fiemme (ITA) rings in the second period of the 2021/22 season.
For the first time ever, women and men will compete together in a Nordic Combined World Cup event on Friday. Two male and two female athletes per nation are going to start the competition with one jump each on the HS 106 normal hill in Predazzo. While the men will compete in group 1 and 3, the women are starting in the groups 2 and 4.
Afterwards, a 15km cross-country race on the Lago di Tresero track takes place.
The starting order will be Man-Woman-Woman-Man, with two 2.5 km loops (5 km) for the male athletes and one 2.5 km loop for the females.
Norway will once again be the top favorite for the victory, due to their strong performances in both genders.
In addition to the Mixed Team event, Val di Fiemme will host two Individual Gundersen for the men on Saturday and Sunday as well as a Mass Start for the women on Saturday.
After a landslide in 2020, the large hill is still out of commission until it is to be renovated as part of preparations for the Olympic Winter Games 2026. For this reason, all events will be held on the HS 104 normal hill, like last year.
Overall World Cup leader Jarl Magnus Riiber, will bring an excellent track record to Italy with 5 victories in the last two years, including two wins in the previous season. His strongest opponent, Vinzenz Geiger from Germany, reached two third places in 2021 and will most likely be the one to challenge the Norwegian this weekend.
The smaller hill suits the strong skier, who has already proven his preferences for the venue with two wins in 2019 and 2020.
Another fast athlete, who benefits from the smaller hill, is the current owner of the red bib as Best Skier, Ilkka Herola. The Finn took two podium spots last season, with a second rank in the Individual as well as a third rank in the Team Sprint.
For the womens events, Gyda Westvold Hansen is the measure of all things. The 19-year-old has won every previous World Cup this season and is the owner of all three bibs, as Best Jumper, Best Skier and Overall leader. Therefore, it will be very difficult to keep Hansen off the podium in Val di Fiemme as well.
The Norwegians greatest competition comes from within her own ranks, in the form of Marte and Mari Leinan Lund as well as Ida Marie Hagen, all of whom have already achieved podium places in the World Cup.
At the second Mass Start of the season, Hagen in particular is one of the favorites, as she was in the lead in Otepää (EST) after the cross-country race and finished second overall.
Local hero Annika Sieff from Italy will also try to sell well in front of her home crowd and maybe even reach a podium.
After some spectacular Tour de Ski days with the FIS Cross-Country World Cup, Val di Fiemme is ready to ring in the second part of the Viessmann FIS Nordic Combined World Cup season, with four high-class events.