• Alex 50km Lahti Champion
    • FIS Cross Country History

      February 15, 2011

      Dear Readers,

      This article will continue with the pursuit start and the problems some athletes had with the new race format.

      I will, however, begin with some remarks coming from my research. What would say today if I told you that in the season 1989/90 we did not have any World Cup competition between January 15 and February 18? We did not have any championships. I was surprised myself but - it was old day’s business.

      Complicated 89/90 season

      Nevertheless, the season 89/90 was very demanding. Cold weather in Krylatskoe, Moscow, and the competition had to be shortened. Experience: the official thermometers must be defined. On the other part of the scale we had extremely warm weather in Reit im Winkl and Val di Fiemme. Experience: the starting procedure with athletes evenly divided by the team captains into four groups should be changed. By the way, if you know Torgeir Bjorn (NRK commentator) you should ask him how he reached his 5th place in Reit im Winkl.

      The Swiss portion of the World Cup: Le Brassus was cancelled due to lack of snow. The substitute resort Davos could not be used due to risk for avalanches after having got almost one meter of new snow the day after arrival of the teams. Christian Egli could, however, present a new alternative. Pontresina could organize the ladies´ competition if the teams accepted accommodation in military barracks and the highest point of the competition course at 1819 m. Campra took over the men’s competition. The relay competition in Le Brassus was not rescheduled. Thank you Christian Egli that you could help us to solve the situation. Björn Daehli took his World Cup win in Campra. It can be mentioned that I took over the microphone as speaker. In the meantime of the story, World Cup in Falun had to be moved to Örnsköldsvik and part of Holmenkollen to Vang and that was again due to lack of snow.

      Back to pursuit start

      March 3; Lahti, men. The nominated TD Peter Petricek could not come and Odd Martinsen replaced him. The first day went normally. According to the rules an alternative start list was prepared. According this list, the leader from day 1 would start as the last the following day on March 4. The list was supposed to be used if there was a risk of snowfall. At the competition start there was snow in the air and Odd Martinsen decided that the pursuit start should be replaced by the alternative start. The times were supposed to be added together. That was how Bjorn Daehli took his second win. NB: Now 20 years after this competition I have heard comments in media that the FIS had made a mistake not having calculated two individual results from this competition. But it is NOT the case, it was only one race with two independent results calculated together.

      March 17; Vang, ladies. As I mentioned above, the individual competitions were moved from Oslo. The men’s relay could be carried out in Holmenkollen in very bad conditions and the OC decided already during the competition that Vang would be the place for the day after competition. The OC had followed the weather development and already had a plan for the situation. Congratulations to Rolf Nyhus, it worked.

      The ladies had their second competition with the pursuit start and the media and the spectators could directly follow the fight for the Crystal Globe. Before the final race Elena Vaelbe was leading the standing but five athletes had theoretical chances to win the overall classification. Larissa Lazutina got the World Cup a few points ahead of Vaelbe due to better finish in the race. It was very spectacular. The team Finland demonstrated against the starting procedure and did not start the second day. The celebrations of the World Cup season started at Sporten!!!!

      The morning after the race telephone rang early in the morning, why?

      In my engagement as the head of the Nordic office I was called to Jumping table where the ski jumping athletes represented by the legend Toni Innauer refused to compete in the same day’s competition unless some requirements were fulfilled. Due to the warm weather the hill was not properly prepared. Eventually the competition was carried out but not in the frame of the World Cup. Most importantly for the OC the competition started traditionally at 13.15 with King Olaf present.

      FIS Congress 1990

      1990 was a congress year and the Congress was scheduled May 20 to 27 in Montreux Switzerland. Each member nation has the right to bring proposals to a FIS congress. The Finnish Ski Association sent a proposal with a clear signature of the World Champion 1989 Harri Kirvesniemi. According to the proposal four individual and one relay competition should be carried out at the upcoming Championships (OWG included). After intensive discussions the Congress unanimously decided:

      “On proposal of the Cross-Country Committee and in agreement with the Finnish Ski Association the Congress unanimously decided to continue to organize pursuit races within the Cross-Country World Cup and to include the pursuit race only beginning with the 1992 Olympic Winter Games in Albertville (with 2 medals: one medal for the competition on the first day and the second medal for the combined result of the second competition) into the program for Olympic Winter Games and World Ski Championships. This of course provided that the International Olympic Committee would agree.”

      Now we had two seasons and in total four competitions on the World Cup program. In comparison to this the Nordic Combined had carried out dozens of competitions with pursuit races without any problems and there had not been any problems or doubts registered. Let us make an analysis why the Cross-Country skiers are so extreme in their opinion; but in the next article.