The Nordic Combined season 2010/2011 is officially beginning with the FIS Summer Grand Prix that is scheduled for 7th-8th August in Oberstdorf (GER) and Oberwiesenthal (GER) on the following week-end, 13th-14th August. The FIS Newsflash caught up with Uli Wehling, FIS Race Director Nordic Combined, ahead of the competitions.
Q. Uli Wehling, what are your thoughts about the summer season, which starts at the upcoming weekend?
A. Nordic Combined has a long-standing tradition of summer competitions. Every year, the summer series provides a great opportunity for athletes to meet other athletes and figure out where they stand relative to others. The big change this year is that the competitions will count towards the quota system of the World Ranking list and that will be a completely new situation for all teams.
Q. How will the rule change of holding the race on roller skis instead of inline skates impact the competition?
A. I think the impact will not be so great. In the last few years, inline skates were only used for the competitions but the actual summer training was always done with roller skis. We were fortunate now to have found the company Barthelmes from Zella-Mehlis (GER), which did a fantastic job of producing a special type of roller skis for Nordic Combined. The races will be somewhat slower with the roller skis but it will allow us to use more inner city courses or special roller ski tracks, which will result in more attractive competitions.
Q. For the first time the Summer Grand Prix is also considered as the start of the World Cup season. What do you expect from this rule change?
A. We would like to bring our sport forward to an interested Nordic Combined fan family also during the summer months and present it to a wider spectrum of spectators. We intend to increase the quality of our Summer Grand Prix by allowing the nations to take part. It is important for the future to upgrade the financial situation for the teams. This will be a busy job which will start immediately after the last race this summer.
Q. The youngsters will have a platform to compete against each other in the FIS Schüler Grand Prix in addition to the Summer Grand Prix. How important is this event for you?
A. Providing the younger athletes with a platform to compete against each other and their heroes is an important incentive in the buildup of a new generation. In today’s life, leisure time is becoming an increasingly rare commodity and young athletes have to make difficult choices between different activities and find a balance among competing interests. There is a greater chance that younger athletes – given the possibility to also compete in summer – will stick with that discipline. In the future new formats of youth competitions will be developed. The EYOWF 2011, which is held in Liberec (CZE), is an actual example of such a new format for the youth. The first Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck and Seefeld in 2012 are another example and will be the next highlight for the younger generation. It is crucial that we prepare the athletes for the future by providing them with an age-appropriate competition format.
Source: International Ski Federation