On Sunday, the competition “Champion Heights” in the Arkhangelsk region ended. It was aimed to replace the Russian skiers in the World Championship in Planica, Slovenia, where our team could not participate due to the sanctions of the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS). We will try to compare two major ski tournaments on three main parameters and answer the question of where it is more interesting and better.
In the absence of the Russian team, the Norwegians easily proved their superiority: in Planica, the Scandinavian team won the medal standings by one margin – seven gold, six silver and three bronze medals. The second place was taken by the Swedish team (4-3-5), the Americans were in third place (1-0-1). Norwegian Johannes Klebo, one of the strongest skiers in the world, won the most awards (3-2-0) in individual races, although more was expected from him. Apparently, problems with motivation not only left the Russians behind.
Russia’s main skier, Alexander Bolshunov, dominated Malinovka without surprise – four gold and one bronze. The three-time Olympic champion showed a thirst for victory despite the illness he suffered during training camp in Sochi. After every race I repeat – I want to run against the strongest from all over the world. “Of course I am happy with the tournament. The four golds are not bad in general. The races are well organized here, there are many fans. Of course I want to run in the main international competitions, but for now we are here, ” Bolshunov summed up.
Speaking of the women’s division of the World Championship, it is worth noting the expected strong performance of the Swedes: they have as many as 11 medals, four of which are gold. Of course, the Olympic champion Natalya Nepryaeva would have given them a serious fight, but so far the Russian woman has to give all the insurance at domestic starts. So “Champion Heights” was quite successful for Nepryaeva – three gold and two silver. Despite her impressive advantage over her rivals, Borodavko criticizes the situation of her ward: “These races are very difficult for Natalya because she is trying to win the races with little bloodshed and unfortunately the pace of competition is slowing down. She is still winning somewhere. She is losing a little, but so far (international starts suspension). ) impressed him the most.”
The result is banal – the failure of the Russians to participate in the World Cup struck both themselves and their foreign rivals. The main victim was the interest in the world championship in general.
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The tournament “Champion Heights” hosted the ski resort “Malinovka”. The main disadvantage of this place is the accessibility of transport, or rather, its low level. The village of Kononovskaya was significantly removed from large cities, so there were almost no fans who visited the tournament from afar. For example, you need to set aside more than 20 hours to come from Moscow with your own car. If you prefer trains, drive about 15 hours. But for lovers of comfortable and fast flights, the roads to Malinovka have not yet been invented.
In all other respects, “Champion Heights” can compete on equal terms with the World Cup. The track was very well prepared, the races were shown competently and brilliantly, the transport worked flawlessly, as did the internet (and this is very important). It is also worth noting the fantastically beautiful scenery, high standards of food for the participants and spectators, as well as the excellent work of the organizing committee of the tournament and the press service. Honestly, it is difficult to remember that even at the world championships and the Olympics, colleagues intervened so much in the problems of media representatives.
Of course, Malinovka desperately needs a hotel complex and stadium stands. This was understood by the authorities of the Arkhangelsk region, who plan to start the corresponding work this year. In five years, 250 million rubles will be spent on the improvement of the complex. “I think that in the next three or four years Malinovka will play with completely different colors and will not succumb to any complex in the world,” the governor of the region, Alexander Tsybulsky, said in an interview with RIA Novosti.
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As for Planica, this picturesque place has long been one of the world centers for ski jumping. Yes, the place is iconic and attractive but this World Cup was the first match of the Slovenian village. We can now summarize that the FIS has scared off many ski enthusiasts by raising ticket prices significantly. Many famous skiers noted a depressing picture, and some did not avoid harsh criticism, saying that the organizers did not cope with their duties. In addition to the small number of spectators, there were major problems with the preparation of the track: in order to somehow preserve the snow cover, it was heavily salted, which did not save the athletes from frequent falls. All in all, a sad picture.
“We see low participation in the World Championships, we discussed this issue and said at the beginning that it would be so. The FIS understood this, but they did not make the decision themselves,” Borodavko told RIA Novosti.
Cross-country skiing is a winter sport. It sounds trite but very relevant for the last fifteen years. Due to climate change, it has become increasingly difficult to organize World Cup stages in Europe. Every ski enthusiast has a “spring” picture of a race held somewhere in Dresden, Germany: In fact, half-naked athletes run along a pitiful snowy track between slush and mud. Therefore, in the warm, truly spring Planica, the organizers faced huge problems, the essence of which was described above.
It was a real winter in Kononovskaya. Yes, the weather sometimes changed several times a day – the sun and calm gave way to a blizzard and a strong wind, the frost either weakened or intensified. But at least it was, and it was stable. Therefore, the organizers did not have to strain their brains by preparing the track for the next race.
It would be interesting to see the 2023 World Championships in Malinovka and precisely in such canonical ski conditions. And after all, the post-Olympic duel between Bolshunov and Klebo would not be the only intrigue of the tournament. But for now, the skiers have to suffer because of the sanctions. Although Elena Vyalbe, head of the Russian Ski Racing Federation (FLGR), still thinks positively: “I am sure that today or tomorrow we will not return to the international arena, and if all the work is done here, then we can additionally present Malinovka to Tyumen as a ground stage of the World Cup . I hope so, everything is top notch here.”
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