Oberwiesenthal, the small city at the foot of the Fichtelberg, has developed into the traditional opening venue of the Nordic Combined Summer Grand Prix - but it does not stop there. Media spokesperson Christoph Gahler with all the insight on changes and new impulses for the 2017 edition and the future.
Oberwiesenthal has been in the middle of a big modernisation process for the past few years regarding the jumping hill and the facilities around it. Can you offer a little insight on what is currently being worked on?
Christopher Gahler: Our biggest project is definitely the lift to the ski jumping tower. The old one was in use for 50 years. We demolished it last year and started to replace it with a state-of-the-art one with a total cost of two million euro. On top, we are also in the process of modernising our youth hills to be able to offer our young athletes in our region optimal training conditions.
Unfortunately, the lift will not be ready for the Summer Grand Prix this year, as originally planned. What are the reasons for the delay and how does the contingency plan look like?
Gahler: Yes, unfortunately we will not be able to present the new lift this year. According to the owner, the reasons are a delayed start of the construction work due to the long winter and lot of snow. We are very certain that we will be able to guarantee a perfect shuttle service together with the municipality of Oberwiesenthal and our numerous partners. We were able to have our first experiences with it last year. We are very proud that our volunteers and helpers will support us again with it. Without them, this event would not be possible.
Oberwiesenthal also wants to apply to host a Junior World Championship in the future. In how far is the joint Nordic Combined Summer Grand Prix and the Ladies’ Continental Cup an important step on the way to this bigger event?
Gahler: Oberwiesenthal is a winter sports hotspot - no question about that. We are happy if we can be associated with great events from the past and present. The Summer Grand Prix and Ladies’ Continental Cup are such events but also by hosting the German national championships in Cross-country skiing, we showed that we have the necessary “fire” to host a Junior World Championship. But there are still some hurdles to cross, for sure.
This year, the programm will be rounded off with a concert. What can you tell us about the planned side events for 2017?
Gahler: It has become more and more important to entertain the spectators with great side events, next to long jumps and fast roller skiing. This is why it has been our goal to boost the great performances of the athletes with a good atmosphere and music at the venues and after the competitions. We have decided to invite the well-know DJ duo “Stereoact” to the Summer Grand Prix - many people will know their music, especially the hits “Die immer lacht” or “Der Himmel reißt auf”. And the best: entrance is free!
As such a great event could never work without the support or our many many volunteers, we are also having a jumping hill party for our helpers and all officials on Friday. We would like to say ‘thank you’ with this party and gear up for the weekend at the same time. To make sure everybody goes to bed on time, the party will end in big fireworks! (laughs)
Can it be said that the Summer Grand Prix and Ladies’ Continetal Cup has developed into an audience magnet for the region?
Gahler: Winter sports are a big tradition in the Erzgebirge region and luckily this is still valid today. Or course, “our” Eric Frenzel has done a lot to boost the interest and visibility of this sportive summer event and it’s clearly visible that it attracts more and more visitors. In addition to that, we are very glad about the numerous tourists, who travel to Oberwiesenthal just for this event. Not only is this good for us, it’s also a great advertising for our athletes and the sport itself.