The Austrian venue of Tschagguns and Partenen is back on the Summer Grand Prix calendar 2017. OC President Thomas Amann gave all details of what is new in the second FIS Summer Interview.
After a break of one year, the Summer Grand Prix is coming back to the Montafon valley. Are you excited about the event?
Thomas Amann: Yes, we are delighted to welcome the world elite of the Nordic Combined sport for a second time. After the successful event in 2015, it was clear to us that we would be available as a venue for this competition again. The ski club Montafon, the other local clubs and over 180 volunteers will help to make the event go smoothly again this year. We are already in the past phase of preparations together with the Montafon Tourism and the jumping hill centre and the whole valley is looking forward to the competitions in Tschagguns and Partenen.
With Mario Seidl’s win, you were able to celebrate a home victory the last time. It’s always difficult to tell in summer but do you think it could happen again?
Amann: Almost all of the top nations will be on start with their best athletes. The world elite of Nordic Combined is quite a big group, so it’s really hard to say. The audience will cheer on every athlete and celebrate the winner, no matter which country he is from in the end. But of course it would be nice to have an Austrian among the Top Three (laughs).
Bernhard Gruber’s spontaneous gig with the rock band, who played after the event has almost become legendary by now. How does the side program look like this year? Will be maybe be able to see Rockin’ Berni again?
Amann: The special thing about the Summer Grand Prix in Nordic Combined is that the audience is able to meet the athletes without all the fences and barriers that are usually in place at big sports events. Berni’s show two years ago certainly added to that feeling. Also in this year, we have booked the band “Roadwork” as the big highlight after the competition and prize giving ceremony. And of course we will always have room for Berni on stage!
What has changed since the Nordic Combined athletes last visited Montafon?
Amann: After the first edition in 2015, we have optimised certain areas. We have added containers to the athletes’ village, so that everybody has the space to prepare in the best possible way. Some entrance and passageways were improved, so that athletes, media and spectators can meet without having to cross each other’s paths. We can also guarantee the option to come with public transport or own vehicles. A parade of nations was added to the side events before the trial round on Wednesday.
But some things will also stay the same. As last time, the travel to Montafon will be free of charge in all public transport in the Vorarlberger Verkehrsverbund and the Montafonerbahn.
For the first time, we will have a blue bib for the best jumper and a red bib for the best skier in this summer. What do you think about this novelty?
Amann: It is important that the sport keeps developing and new rules or formats are tested in the summer. I think the new bibs will be very interesting to the spectators to compare athletes and also to the athletes themselves as a motivation to go to their limits.