FIS Cross-Country News: What is your general feeling looking forward to the 2007-2008 season?
Jürg Capol: First of all, I hope that overall we will have more snow than last season. At the same time, given the lessons learnt from last year, we can rest assured that the FIS World Cup organizers are even better prepared now. We also know that we have many very creative Organizing Committees, which are able to manage even the most difficult situations. Secondly, I believe that education is key for future success. We’ve never organized more seminars for referees, FIS Technical Delegates, homologation experts and so on than this summer and autumn. We are following a clear strategy of distributing knowledge and exchanging information and experiences in order to learn from each other and to develop.
What is particular about this season?
There are a total of 10 nations organizing FIS World Cup Cross-Country competitions this year, Most Organizing Committees have a lot of experience, and we can expect an even higher general level of event organization. We will have a long World Cup week in Canmore where several competitions will be held at one site which allows us to reduce the number of venues on the calendar slightly. At the same time, we have requests for several WC competitions from different countries. The test competitions for the FIS World Championships in Liberec are one of the season highlights, along with the Tour and the Final. There we’ll have a year to deliver great 2009 championships with large audiences and a great atmosphere. All in all, I believe that we have a well-balanced World Cup calendar for this season.
Are there any changes we should note, in the World Cup or the Tour?
We have a lot of changes: In the World Cup, we’ll hold the World Cup Final for the first time as a three-day ‘Mini Tour’ in Bormio (ITA). This is to maintain high interest until the end of the season, Another novelty this season is that we’ll distribute overall FIS World Cup prize money to the best six athletes and also honor the Rookie of the Year (the best Under-23 athlete) with prize money.
Next weekend, we’ll introduce the lucky loser rule in the team sprint, exactly as we did last year in the individual sprint races. The final change is that we’ll have a trial of the nations’ boxes in the mass start races in Rybinsk (RUS). We tested the nations’ boxes that allow the possibility to change skis during an individual start race in Oslo at the traditional Holmenkollen races last season, and now we will try the concept for the first time in a mass start competition.
At the Tour de Ski, we’ve increased bonus seconds for the sprint races as well as introducing more bonus points during the distance races. For the first time, a Tour Team Standing will be introduced where the daily time scores for the best two athletes - both ladies and men - per team and day are added together (for more details, see Tour A-Z). This year, athletes can also win World Cup points (half of a normal race) at each Stage, but only if they finished the Tour on top of Alpe Cermis. Prague has come onboard as a new Tour venue and we will have a sprint race in the old town in front of the historical Prague castle on 30th December. The Tour will continue in Oberstdorf on 1st of January – that’s also unique for the Cross-Country World Cup.
What are your goals for the sport of Cross-Country this season?
My focus is on increasing interest in the sport in general, on having the Cross-Country family grow more together and on increasing cooperation among the stakeholders, especially the organizers. I would like to have a large number of nations carrying out FIS competitions and to increase support to smaller nations and the Continental Cup competitions. I would also like to gain additional human power at the World Cup management level.