Photos & text by Yoshifumi Iwase from the Sapporo 2007 web site.
The Shirahatayama Cross-Country Course is located approximately 13 km to the south of the Okurayama and Miyanomori Jumping Hills in Sapporo. This small rise of land overlooking the city will be the stage for the Cross Country events and Nordic Combined Cross Country events of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships Sapporo 2007.
Cross-country skiing requires flawless waxing techniques that enable the athletes to ski perfectly, if and regardless of how quality of snow changes. At the FIS World Championships and Winter Olympics, in particular, we cannot miss the powerful Norwegian teams that never fail to win medals with the wax they have developed to suit respective venues.
During the Pursuit races, spectators should pay attention to the time spent in the transition area when the athletes change their skis from those used in classical to those used in free-style techniques. Heated competitions are expected throughout the events as the athletes from Norway, Germany, Italy and Russia vie for the lead in the Relay events, while those competing in the Nordic Combined Individual and Team events will put on a display of skill and technique.
Spectators are encouraged to cheer for athletes by waving flags, applauding and, if possible, going to the back of the course to cheer at the top of their lungs at the steep uphill section and other climactic points.
Ski marathons and ekiden (road relay races) are worth watching and rooting for as well. Cross-country skiing involves a necessary combination of both marathon techniques and upper-body muscular strength to push off and pull with the poles.
TV footage will be primarily filmed with cameras from Norway’s state-run broadcasting station NRK. Norway is a country where Cross-country skiing is loved as the national sports and home to Europe’s renowned Holmenkollen and Trondheim Cross Country courses. NRK will enliven the atmosphere of the WSC by capturing footage that will touch our heartstrings. Neck-and-neck battles will also be shown on the video screen at the venue.
Garnishing high expectations for the WSC Sapporo are Germany, which has been improving in ability lately, the traditional three Scandinavian countries, Italy, France and Estonia as well as the women from Russian, the Czech Republic and Slovenian.
If anything, the Japanese athletes are expected to fare well in the Sprint events at the Sapporo Dome. However, it is hoped that they will also capitalize on their familiarity with the courses in middle-distance events that will be held at the Shirahatayama Cross-Country Course.
As the first FIS-certified cross-country course in Asia, the 25 km-long course with its many uphills and downhills has served as the stage for numerous major events. The 2nd Winter Asian Games and the Winter Universiade were held here in 1990 and 1991, respectively. The course has also been used for the FIS World Cup Nordic Combined (cross country) and the FIS World Cup Cross Country. Therefore, this is a full-fledged cross-country ski course.