The FIS Newsflash had a chance to ask Jürg Capol, FIS Race Director for Cross-Country Skiing to share some of his observations from 2007/2008 Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country season.
Jürg Capol: "It was a very exciting season. We carried out all the scheduled events. We did have some difficulties with the weather especially in February but thanks to great efforts by the Organizing Committees, all planned competitions took place.
From the sports perspective, we saw both old and new faces – with Charlotte Kalla (SWE) and Astrid Jacobsen (NOR), two young ladies who established themselves in the overall World Cup elite in their first year in the open category. 19 nations made it to the podium this season – a new record - which shows us that Cross-Country Skiing has a high value in many countries where they work in a very professional manner for the sport.
Our highlight this season was surely the 2nd edition of the Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski performance by Craft Sportswear. For the first time, we carried out eight competitions in ten days and reached an additional 25 % of TV viewers during the event compared to the first edition.
At the end of the season, we introduced the three-event World Cup Final which created excitement until the end of the World Cup season. Although the athletes had to work hard to finish the entire mini-series to get the points and prize money, it was a plus that the sprinters and distance racers had their final on the same weekend and could conclude the season together.
For the future, there are several tasks on my “to do list”. First of all, we need to continue to work to develop and improve the quality of TV production from our World Cup events. Our main goal is to ensure that all events have the same standard and viewers at home will always benefit from one TV “look and feel”. We will be organizing a TV seminar to evaluate the season this spring and come up with some really practical next steps in this area.
Second, I would like to create clear focus in the World Cup calendar. Compact events – fewer sites with several competitions at each - are an advantage for the athletes as well as for the fans, TV viewers and sponsors. The cooperation in marketing issues among the World Cup Organizers is also an important development project as well improvements in the rights situation so that we can execute more effective cross-border projects.
From the more overall perspective, there are two areas on which more empahsis is required in the future. Currently, there is little overall cooperation and coordination among the industry, the organizers of the popular races and the National Ski Associations. I believe that together, perhaps though common campaigns and activities under the umbrella of FIS, we have a great opportunity to get more people interested in Cross-Country Skiing as an excellent way to keep fit. Call it a “Bring the people onto the tracks” campaign if you will. The other area where we are still in the starting blocks is allowing spectators to get to know the athletes better. There are probably several ways we could allow more contact between the fans and the racers at the venues before and after the competitions."