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The ski jumps in Nizhny Tagil (photo by Anastasia Poryadina)

Just a few weeks left until the inauguration of the World Cup season in Nizhny Tagil – „This is a special challenge for us”

Less than a month remains until the first men’s ski jumping World Cup competition, which will be held in Nizhny Tagil. For the first time in history, the inauguration of the winter season at the highest competitive level will take place in Russia. How are the preparations for this event progressing? The ladies’ World Cup inauguration is also scheduled to take place in the Ural Mountain region – what will that be like?


The first World Cup inauguration of its type. Will the winter come soon enough?

In 2017-2020, the ski jumping World Cup winter seasons were kicked off at the Adam Małysz (HS-134) ski jumping hill in Wisła. Before that, the traditional inaugural venue for the best ski jumpers in the world was the Finnish town of Ruka, however the role of the premiere host was also played by the organizing committees in Klingenthal, Germany and Lillehammer, Norway. This year, the inauguration will be taken care of by the Russians. The first ski jumping events at the highest competitive level in the 2021/2022 Olympic season will be held in Nizhny Tagil.

On November 19, the jumpers will test the Tramplin Stork large ski jumping hill (HS-134) during the official training rounds, and they will also test their skills in the first qualifications. The inaugural individual event is scheduled for Saturday, November 20, and its winner will put on the yellow leader’s bib for the first time this coming season. On Sunday, November 21, that bib may be up for a rematch, or the leader’s advantage over the other competitors may grow larger still.

It’s certainly a special challenge for us. Moreover, it’s a challenge on many levels. It has to do with preparing the ski jump, because the winter season has never been inaugurated in Nizhny Tagil this early, it has to do with the hotel accommodation of the athletes, with the presence of spectators in the stands, as the situation is still quite tense in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and it also has to do with the opening ceremony itself, because we just want everything to turn out great. In general, it’s still an equation with many variables,” said the press officer of the event, Andrei Kashcha. Interestingly, there were even plans to organize an event similar to the Blue Bird Tour that ends the ladies’ ski jumping season… at least from a non-sporting point of view. “When it comes to the opening ceremony itself, we initially wanted to hold a large celebration at the Nizhny Tagil theater. In addition, our “Stork” sports school will be celebrating its 15th anniversary during the season opening weekend. However, in agreement with the International Ski Federation, we later decided to abandon this concept for covid-related reasons, and the ceremony was moved to the open air area at the ski jumping hill.

Men’s World Cup events have been held in Nizhny Tagil has since 2014 (with the exception of 2016). The earliest date for the competition weekend was chosen for the “Stork” ski jump in 2018, when the events were held on December 1-2. There was usually no problem with securing enough snow and the proper winter weather conditions in the Sverdlovsk region. This time, however, the competitions are scheduled for the end of November. “The last summer in our season was extremely hot. Considering that we are in the Ural Mountain region and it’s the middle of October, it’s rather warm here right now as well. The forecasts for the next two days show good weather, but temperatures above zero are expected for next week. The current weather situation is similar to last year’s. However, we can work with artificial snow, and the chief of the ski jumping hills agrees that they will be well-prepared by mid-November,” emphasizes the representative of the Russian organizing committee. Looking at the long-term weather forecast, the regular snowfall and freezing temperatures may appear in the region as early as at the end of October.

The men’s World Cup timetable in Nizhny Tagil >>>


Spectators at the hill and the Chinese season opener for the female ski jumpers in Russia

As we remember from last winter season, the spectator stands at ski jumping hills were painfully empty – even during the most important ladies’ and men’s events. The only place where the fans could officially show up to root for their favorite athletes was in Nizhny Tagil. The tribunes at “Tramplin Stork” were approximately 50% full during the ladies’ World Cup competitions in March. Now that the pandemic reality has become a part of everyday life, the fans in Russia will get the opportunity to watch the male ski jumpers’ events live as well. “Due to the restrictions that are still in place, we expect to see 500 fans at the ski jump each day. The final decision on this issue will be made on November 8. Tickets will go on sale on that same day, or the day after. However, it’s already certain that the spectators that will be allowed to enter the tribunes will have to have a special QR code that’s only available to people who have been vaccinated against covid. Of course everyone working within the organization of these events must also be fully vaccinated,” emphasizes Kashcha.

A week after the men’s World Cup season opening, the first competitions of this winter are also scheduled in Nizhny Tagil for the women. The ladies will also be inaugurating their season in Russia for the first time. And for the second time in history, they will be kicking off their season in the same place as the men. The same situation happened before in the 2012/2013 season, when the ladies and the men started their winter season together in Lillehammer, Norway. What’s interesting, the formal role of the organizers of the season opening in Nizhny Tagil will be played not by the Russians, but by the Chinese. “I can confirm that this event will be organized by the Chinese Ski Association. This will affect the financial contributions in terms of the organization of these competitions. However, the athletes are not expected to feel any difference. We would like to properly celebrate the ladies’ World Cup season inauguration, but we will have to come to an agreement with our Chinese counterparts regarding these issues,” the press representative of the competitions admits. The women’s events will be held in the Asian part of Russia on November 25-27 on the HS-97 normal hill. The ladies will also get the chance to compete in two individual competitions.

This means that the atmosphere surrounding the ski jumps in Nizhny Tagil will soon be quite busy and loud. Let’s just add that aside from the season opening events, the organizers will also host the Nordic combined athletes in November  and the ladies again in March as part of the Blue Bird Tour. “We actually have as many as three FIS-level events to host in November – the ladies’ and men’s ski jumping World Cup, as well as the Continental Cup Nordic combined competitions, which will be held on the same date as the women’s ski jumping events. And this actually comes at a high cost. Having agreed to host these events, however, we knew the financial risks we were taking. We’ve already organized a ladies’ and men’s World Cup event weekend in December 2015 at the same time, so we have the necessary experience for these types of situations,” sums up Kashcha.

To recap last year’s men’s World Cup event in Nizhny Tagil, the downright dominating winner was Halvor Egner Granerud, who turned out to be the best athlete in both competitions. On the first day, he was joined on the podium by Daniel Huber (Austria) and Robert Johansson (Norway), whereas the top three on the second day was completed by Johansson again and Marius Lindvik (also of Norway). The ladies’ events brought a double triumph for the Austrian Marita Kramer, and the podium was made complete by Sara Takanashi (Japan) and Nika Križnar (Slovenia), who only switched around their places on each competition day.

The ladies’ World Cup timetable in Nizhny Tagil >>>


Bartosz Leja, own information / translation by Anna Libera


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