The FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2009 opened yesterday in Liberec (CZE), running until March 1st. FIS President Gian Franco Kasper opened the championships at the official Opening Ceremony in the Liberec Tipsport arena on Wednesday, 18th February. Along with the official part of the festivities, the entertainment planned during the Opening Ceremony will include an appearance by the music star Karel Gott as well as a performance by the legendary hard rock band Deep Purple.
"The organizing committee led by Katerina Neumannova has worked very intensely to deliver a great ski festival. The preparations over the years were not always easy, including major organizational and financial challenges. But now, on the opening day, FIS is optimistic that it will be great FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2009 in Liberec," commented FIS President Kasper in the opening press conference. "It was 39 years ago, in 1970, that the Nordic championships were held in Czechoslovakia, in Vysoke Tatra, which also hosted the event in 1935 whilst Johannisbad served as host in 1925."
He added: "We are very pleased to welcome almost 600 athletes representing a record number of nations to Liberec 2009. We see this as a sign of a continuing growth of our sport around the world."
589 athletes representing 61 nations have been entered to compete at Liberec 2009. Whilst 155 ladies and 239 men from 60 nations are registered to compete in Cross-Country, approximately 77 athletes from 18 nations will participate in the Nordic Combined events and 79 athletes from 22 nations in Ski Jumping. In the premiere FIS world championship in Ski Jumping 39 ladies from 13 countries have been entered to start. More than 1?500 international media will be on-site to report on the event.
Along with the Nordic Combined mass start which will make its title event debut on the first competition day, 19th February, the female ski jumpers will make their premiere at the highest level of FIS competitions.
"These first open championships in ladies Ski Jumping are an important opportunity for the female ski jumpers to convince the International Olympic Committee of the quality of their performances and ensure the inclusion in the Olympic program of Sochi 2014," President Kasper remarked.