To bridge the long Christmas and new year’s gap, Race Director Lasse Ottesen gives his view on the Nordic Combined season so far, the upcoming big premiere of the Ladies’ Continental Cup in Otepää on the first weekend of January and the new chances and challenges that the extension of the discipline brings.
The long-awaited Ladies’ Continental Cup will finally start in Otepää, Estonia on the upcoming weekend. What are your expectations?
Lasse Ottesen: We are very exited to finally have the COC Ladies premiere in Otepää. In the FIS Youth Cup we have seen up to 10 nations on start in the Ladies’ events in the last season. We hope to have 6-8 nations on start in Otepää and are looking forward to see the first COC event take place.
Due to the fact that it is a combined weekend with the Ladies’ Continental Cup and World Cup, visitors can look forward to a full and exciting program. How complicated is it to deal with such a “big” schedule from the organisers’ and officials’ side?
Ottesen: It has been our goal to set up the best possible program for both the athletes and spectators. We had to take the TV times that we were given for the mens’ events into consideration. Therefore the rest of the program had to be fitted accordingly. With both parts of the discipline on site, it is very demanding for the organising committee and all other partners onsite but of course the weekend will offer many chances for the spectators on location to follow the action.
Looking into the future of Ladies’ Nordic Combined, is it planned to keep them together with the men’s events like in cross-country skiing or rather with an own tour like in Ladies’ Ski Jumping?
Ottesen: For the coming seasons, we will have ladies and men together. After these early years of the ladies events, we will have to see the development of their tour before we make any further decisions.
For Otepää, the World Cup will also be a premiere in Nordic Combined of the highest level. How has the cooperation with the federation and organisers been, preparing for this big event?
Ottesen: Otepää has a long tradition as organisers of the World Cup in Cross- Country Skiing, so the professionalism of the organising committee is on the highest level. We had an impressive inspection this fall and we expect that they will be ready for the Nordic Combined World Cup and the Continental Cup ladies.
Unoftunately, they have had to face very difficult snow conditions in the last days and weeks and are currently working very hard to try and get the venue ready for the World Cup / COCL weekend, in spite of the difficult conditions.
The season has been an entertaining one so far, with new faces coming up, superstars claiming their rightful places and veterans of the sport finally stepping into the spotlight. What is your view on the three event weekend so far?
Ottesen: The first part of the Nordic Combined season has been very good. More nations were fighting for the top spots, the level in the jumping events and on the cross-country track was even higher then last season. We have also had a very tight and good start of men’s Continental Cup season in Steamboat Springs USA, and the first Alpen Cup event with 50 boys and 18 girls from 6 nations were all successfully completed. We are certainly exited about what the next weeks and months will bring.