PÃ¼ttlingen, Osrblie, Duszniki Zdroy:
You are not alone!
For the second year in succession, the Norwegian southwest coastal city of Sandnes gathered more than ten thousand spectators for a festival of winter sports in summertime.
Norwegian TV showed live rollerski biathlon for three hours during prime-time!
German PÃ¼ttlingen is said to be the only town to close for winter sports in the summer. But Sandnes, with â€œbig brotherâ€ Stavanger a few kilometers away, closed the entire city center for all car and truck traffic during two of the most hectic days of the summer to give way to biathlon and cross-country skiers! And despite heavy rain, the crowds show up and love it!
This event — The Blink Skifestival — underlines the popularity of biathlon in Norway. For four years in succession, this sport has been chosen as the most popular among Norwegian viewers, ahead of soccer and cross-country. This year’s festival was not even completed before the athletes asked when next year’s festival will take place.
The program consisted of exciting duels in sports, accompanied by pop music concerts, exhibitions, and street restaurants in the picturesque harbor on Friday and Saturday July 27th and 29th. On Saturday morning more than 3000 people showed up to get a free lunch from the organizers, even with the competitions more than six hours away!
The biathlon competitions brought together elite level racers such as Russians Nikolay Kruglov and Ekaterina Yurieva, and France’s Delphine Peretto who won Saturday’s sprint competition, as did her teammate Simon Fourcade. And of course, Norweigan star Ole-einar Bjoerndalen was present, as was Linda Grubben, in an emotional comeback for this event only.
In cross-country the home favorites were up against top World Cup racers Manuela Henkel (GER), Claudia Kuntzel-Nystad (GER) and Virpi Kuitonen (FIN).
Friday’s biathlon program consisted of dual-shooting and a mixed relay. Saturday’s was a sprint only, with qualifying rounds followed by finals.
Cross-country competed in different events. On Friday, Odd-Bjorn Hjelmeseth was one of the top competitors in an interesting sprint format. The last three racers to cross the line were removed from the race. Home favorites Marit Bjoergen amd Oeystein Pettersen topped the women’s and men’s fields respectively.
Friday’s interesting was developed by among others Odd-Bjorn Hjelmeseth with special sprint rounds where the three last racers to pass the finishing line where taken out of the race. Home favorites Marit Bjoergen and Oeystein Pettersen were on the top of the lists both
– I would be pleased to come back to this festival next year. This has been two fantastic days, said Simon Fourcade after his victory to the enthusiastic roar from more than 10.000 spectators on the streets of Sandnes.
Full results from the biathlon races can be found here.