Moscow: All is ready for historic slalom
Snow is falling over Moscow at New Years just in time to give a feeling of true wintertime to its inhabitants and important foreign visitors – including a group of snow professionals working on the biggest ramp ever built to host a FIS World Cup Promotional event on Jan. 2.
Established specialists from the International Ski Federation lead by World Cup Race Director Gunter Hujara and Swiss course preparation expert Hans Pieren have been helping local organisers perfectly prepare the 56 meter-high and 33-meter wide ramp situated not far away from the legendary ‘Red Square’ area.Snow is falling over Moscow at New Years just in time to give a feeling of true wintertime to its inhabitants and important foreign visitors – including a group of snow professionals working on the biggest ramp ever built to host a FIS World Cup Promotional event on Jan. 2.
Established specialists from the International Ski Federation lead by World Cup Race Director Gunter Hujara and Swiss course preparation expert Hans Pieren have been helping local organisers perfectly prepare the 56 meter-high and 33-meter wide ramp situated not far away from the legendary ‘Red Square’ area.
Fourteen world-class racers and two invited Russian champions will compete on Friday evening in a parallel slalom attended by a potential crowd of 40,000 people attracted both by the unusual event and famous names as Bode Miller, Didier Cuche, Aksel Lund Svindal, Jean-Baptiste Grange and many more. Nearly a dozen European TV stations will show the competition live as well as dozens of Russian broadcasters. A group of international ski journalists also decided to travel to Moscow for the occasion.
The FIS World Cup Alpine promotional event is mostly aimed at stimulating interest for alpine skiing as part of the build-up to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. With the strong support of the Russian Skiing and Snowboard Association and the School of High Sport Skills “New League”, FIS has been acting intensively since spring to launch and promote this first major alpine competition in Russia.
In the early 1980s, the FIS Alpine World Cup Committee had planned having two technical events organized at Murmansk in February 1983, yet the idea didn’t get the final approval of the political leaders from the former Soviet Union so those two races were moved out and finally held in the Alsacian Vosges and the nearby German Black Forest Mountains.
Two decades later, Alpine Skiing and Racing fortunately have a much stronger position in that part of the world – even top-political leaders as former President Vladimir Putin – the actual Prime-Minister of the Russian Federation – are skiing at various occasions including at St Anton during the 2001 FIS World Championships. Mr. Putin also enjoys the company of former ski stars as Austria’s Karl Schranz or Switzerland’s Bernhard Russi, the 1972 Downhill Olympic Champion who is also helping designing the Olympic downhill course of Sochi.
The big success encountered last year by a ‘Big Air’ Snowboard World Cup event held in February on a similar big ramp in front of ten thousand spectators logically created big interest from the promoters of Alpine Skiing. After a short time, the project of a World Cup promotional parallel-slalom was officially presented last spring during the FIS Congress at Cape Town, South Africa.
An even bigger and technically more complicated ramp was erected during several weeks last fall on a square located near the University. The ramp already has one title to its name – it’s already in the Guinness Book of Records.
Top skiers were approached including past Overall World Cup champions like Bode Miller and Aksel Lund Svindal who were pleased to come over to help promoting their sport.
Since the Russian capital was experiencing its warmest winter ever, the organizers had to bring in most of the snow from other part of the country. 4,000 cubic metres of snow were carried from the Kemerovo Region in Siberia, which has received heavy snowfalls recently. The Siberian snow was packed into 300 kilogram bags and sent to Moscow in refrigerated carriages, allowing the skiing event to take place in time.
After Christmas, Hans Pieren travelled to Moscow with a special water-injection system to freeze and solidify the snow covering the ramp. “Everything looks nice, people will be amazed by the quality of the job done here, we are all looking forward for an exciting event here,” the former ski racer from Adelboden said. “I’m enjoying being associated with this exciting event.”
After the coming Alpine Parallel Slalom, more FIS events have been scheduled on that impressive ramp. Freestyle and snowboarding World Cup stages will also be organized on it in February and March.
Russian officials are proud to have created those new kinds of world class events and say the moveable ramp could allow other major cities in the country or elsewhere to host alpine skiing and snowboarding competitions in the near future. “We’re sure all the upcoming events to be held here will be a great success,” said Dmitry Svishchev, Vice-President of the Russian Ski and Snowboarding Federation.
“It could give a boost to other big cities like New York, Paris and London as they don’t have the environment to host Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding events yet. This moveable ramp will allow big cities to hold such competitions,” he added.
The competition will begin at 8 PM local time (5 PM GMT) and last approximately one hour and a half.
List of participants: Jean-Baptiste Grange (FRA), Manfred Moelgg (ITA) Mario Matt(AUT) Reinfried Herbst (AUT) Julien Lizeroux (FRA), Felix Neureuther (GER), Ted Ligety (USA), Jens Byggmark (SWE) Christian Deville (ITA), Giorgio Rocca (ITA), Bernard Vajdic (SLO), Bode Miller (USA), Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR), Didier Cuche (SUI), Alexander Khoroshilov, Stepan Zuev.