Report from Östersund; Two Days to Go
|28.11.2011, Ostersund / Jerry Kokesh|
|Rehearsal Over; World Cup Next|
|It is two days until the opening of the 20111-12 E. ON IBU World Cup Biathlon season at the Östersund. This past weekend’s IBU Cup 1 was a rehearsal of sorts, but now the IBU Cup athletes have vacated the premises and this afternoon, the World Cup athletes took center stage with the first unofficial training sessions of the year.
Tan Snow; Dead Grass
Last Friday, the Östersund Ski Stadium was crisscrossed with a ribbon of tan-colored old snow in field of dead grass. Now, after a windy Saturday afternoon blew in 15 cm of fresh snow on Sunday afternoon, the stage is set with a new background. The ground is white and it looks like winter, despite the just at freezing temperatures. IBU Technical Delegate Max Cobb commented, “That snow yesterday really helped, not just the scenery but also the tracks in general. They are bit soft, with much less icy and are in much better condition than two days ago.”
Slow, But Safe
IBU Assistant RD World Cup Borut Nunar skied the tracks this afternoon, during training. He commented, “The tracks are in really good shape now. The uphills did not break up at all. It is only dirty in one downhill, where the heavy wind today blew the pine needles onto the tracks.”
He continued, “However, it is really slow now, but very safe, much better than last Saturday.” During the first competitions at the IBU Cup 1, several athletes fell on the tight corners, because before the new snow, the tracks were quite icy in spots.
With the tracks ready to go and the stadium already set up after the weekend competitions, crews were busily putting up the banners and fencing while the first athletes came out for training. As the afternoon progressed, more of the familiar faces gradually appeared; the Ukraine’s Semerenko sisters, Tora Berger of Norway, Michela Ponza of Italy, and the hometown Swedish team.
It was a generally laid back training day today, but tomorrow once the stadium is completely dressed, and the men hold their first official training of the year, the atmosphere will change. The training and dress rehearsals, like this past weekend’s sprints will be over. The tension will build for both athletes and organizers as the first competition, the men’s 20K individual on Wednesday evening at 17:15 approaches. The E.ON IBU World Cup Biathlon season will be up and running. After a seemingly endless fall, it will be, “Game On!”