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    • Bengt's Corner: Milano Sprint

      May 9, 2012

      The first sprints were carried out without any big headlines in the international papers. In the third year of the FIS World Cup sprint competitions, Italy and Milano were appointed as organizers.

      Take Cross-Country Skiing out of the woods

      Pierangelo Molinario wrote in the yearbook SCI 98 on Milano ”To bring the World cup to town among the people was a great idea. This gives a greater popularity to a discipline that cannot live only in the silence of the woods. The merit is of “Fior di Roccia” and Camillo Onesti who wanted this competition so strongly that they succeeded in convincing the same FIS of the goodness of its formula. Its beauty lies in the champion’s direct competition not mediated by the cold figures of a chronometer.”

      Camillo was responsible for the Italian ladies team with the strong athletes Stefania Belmondo and Manuela di Centa. The first argument for the tour in Milano was the prize money of 25.000 CHF compared to the normal 15.000. In the first presentation San Siro, the trotting arena, was mentioned but the famous velodrome Vigorelli was chosen. In the middle of the city and far away from “the wood”.

      Velodrome Vigorelli hosts Milano Sprint

      Back to Camillo Onesti and his team. The stadium was the same as in December 2011 but at this time (1997) it was newly renovated. The snow was produced in silos and based on a nitrogen system independent of cold temperatures. The preparations went smoothly and everything was prepared for the qualification the afternoon before the race. The interest of participating was somewhat limited despite the increased prize money. Among the missing you could find RUS (men), USA, CAN (only Beckie Scott) SWE (women) POL etc.

      In the finals earlier we had one start every 30 second. The track was 350 meters long and was run three times. Therefore we had to finish the heat before the next start.

      The FIS Technical Delegate was Dietmar Miklautsch from Austria who had led the development within Middle Europe in sprint. In his remarks you could read that the snow got a little dirty and that the snow preparation stopped working during the race. The number of spectators was disappointing. Only 5000 came to the stadium. To compare with today: only 2 live TV stations and 5 with highlights.

      Back to the competition. I will present some names in writing so you can look at some of the sprint pioneers.

      Men (Winner of the heat Marked*)


      ¼ Finals ½ Finals 3rd place FINAL
      Palolahti FIN*- Bjonviken NOR      
      Tobias Fredriksson SWE*-B Daehli NOR Palolahti* - Hoffmann Hoffmann*- Alsgaard Palolahti*- Fredriksson
      Hoffmann AUT*-Estil NOR Fredriksson *- Alsgaard    
      Alsgaard NOR*- Schlickenrieder GER      


      Some point out that Tobias Fredriksson came as a substitute directly from Sweden and started in the dress of his club. Among the not qualified for the ¼ finals there were: Markus Gandler AUT, Mattias Fredriksson SWE, Markus Hasler LIE, Silvio Fauner ITA and the young Christian Zorzi ITA.

      Ladies ( Winner of the heat marked *)

      ¼ Finals ½ Finals 3rd place FINAL
      Martinsen (Skari)*-Mali Dybendahl*-Moen-Guidon Moen-Guidon*-Villeneuve Martinsen-Skari*- Dybendahl
      Dybendahl*-Gavriljuk Martinsen-Skari*- Villeneuve    

      Remarks: This was the first WC win for Bente Martinsen (later Skari) and I´m sure more would come in her career. Among the not qualified for the ¼ finals there were: Stefania Belmondo ITA, Olga Danilova RUS, Beckie Scott CAN, Gabriella Paruzzi ITA and Julia Tchepalova RUS.

      The Technical Delegate Dietmar Miklautsch gave a positive report and summarized : “A very attractive competition for spectators and television.” The first sprint competition with the same and equal conditions as other competitions gave a new dimension to this young sport. A new competition for the upcoming season was already booked in Milano.

      New Impulses to Cross-Country Skiing

      The first years with sprint on the program had already given new impulses to the conservative Cross-Country Skiing World and more would come. Pushed by Christian Knauth in the FIS marketing Department the committee decided together with FIS Council that sprint could be an own Sub-cup not counting in the overall World Cup. Then it was planned to introduce 2-3 sprints in Middle Europe during Christmas time 1998 on these premises. A really intriguing decision and you will read more about this in my next article.

      Bengt-Erik Bengtsson: FIS release