In just 18 days, the Nordic skiing world will converge upon Sapporo for the 2007 FIS Nordic Ski World Championships to be held there from February 22nd to March 4th. This will be the first time the championships have been held in Asia. With an impressive résumé as host for large sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup in 2002, Sapporo is hoping to set an example throughout the region for staging modern winter sporting events. More than 530 athletes representing 46 nations have been preliminarily entered to compete in the championships, to be accompanied by at least the same number of team officials along with at least 1150 international media who to-date have registered for accreditation.
One of the specialties of the Sapporo Championships will undoubtedly be the events held at the Sapporo Dome, including the Opening Ceremony and the ladies' and men's Cross-Country sprint and team sprint competitions as well as the skiing part of the Nordic Combined sprint competition. The Sapporo Dome - with a stadium capacity of 30,000 - normally hosts the Sapporo football and highly successful baseball clubs. For the championships, the Dome will be showcasing the first ever "turf conversion hovering system" to facilitate the snow making process for the skiing competitions. At the Opening Ceremony, a myriad of performances will pay tribute to the local traditions. These will include a performance by Maki Ohguro, an artist hailing from Sapporo, a Japanese drum performance to create a special Japanese atmosphere, Yosakoi Soran dances and mass calisthenics by local children, just to mention a few highlights.
The Organizing Committee for the 2007 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships has put countless hours into the preparation of the competitions to ensure that they will be the absolute highlight of an unforgettable event: "I am convinced that the Championships - held in Asia for the first time - will provide many children and young people, our future leaders, with lofty dreams and great hopes, and will enable everyone around the globe to share the emotions of this event, thus contributing to the pursuit of world peace," said Fumio Ueda, the President of the Organizing Committee and Mayor of Sapporo.
"It is a great honor and privilege that Sapporo was chosen as the host city of the 2007 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. Sapporo has gained experience through holding the Olympic Winter Games in 1972 and since then, taken pride in hosting numerous international competitions, including several FIS World Cups in Ski Jumping, Cross Country and Nordic Combined. Having been awarded an opportunity to stage the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Asia for the first time, we are greatly honored to create a bright new page in our history," said Yoshiro Ito, Vice-President of the Organizing Committee and President of the Ski Association of Japan.
Throughout the World Championships, Sapporo will be showcasing many of the regional culinary delights to the spectators with traditional Japanese hospitality. In the center of Sapporo there will be a large Nordic Village which will allow local vendors to display their goods and services. In addition to nightly on-stage performances, there will be a special Citizens' Concert featuring the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra at the Kitaro Concert Hall on February 21st to celebrate the spirit of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.
The reigning 2005 World Champions from Oberstdorf (GER):
Cross-Country Skiing Ladies 10km Free Technique: Katerina Neumannova (CZE) 30km Classic Technique: Marit Bjoergen (NOR) Pursuit: Julija Tchepalova (RUS) Sprint: Emelie Oehrstig (SWE) Relay: Norway Team Sprint: Norway
Men 15km Free Technique: Pietro Piller Cottrer (ITA) 50km Classic Technique: Frode Estil (NOR) Pursuit: Vincent Vittoz (FRA) Sprint: Vassili Rotchev (RUS) Relay: Norway Team Sprint: Norway
Ski Jumping Normal Hill: Rok Benkovic (SLO) Large Hill: Janne Ahonen (FIN) Team Normal Hill: Austria Team Large Hill: Austria Nordic Combined Gundersen: Ronny Ackermann (GER) Sprint: Ronny Ackermann (GER) Team: Norway