The Nordic World Ski Championships lack spectators - but experts abound
They have jittered, feared and hoped - and are currently a little disappointed: the organizers of the Nordic World Ski Championships in Planica. A year ago, they didn't know how the COVID 19 pandemic would develop, whether the public would even be allowed in. Then there was a landmark election in the country, also affecting the title bouts. And it wasn't until both of these pitfalls had been navigated that the hosts had the opportunity to promote their event appropriately, quite obviously too late, as evidenced by the meager attendance to date. Even the skiing-mad Norwegians canceled several tens of thousands of pre-ordered tickets, and the locals had the impression that the World Championships were passing them by. Of course, in cross-country skiing and Nordic combined, the hosts are only competitive to a limited extent. But ski jumping in particular has a huge tradition in the country, the World Cup final on the flying hill attracts tens of thousands of fans to the valley in the border triangle of Slovenia-Italy-Austria year after year. But even in the women's individual competition, where Slovenia even provided the defending World Cup champion, the audience remained hand-picked.
Good advice is expensive and for the title fights in this winter only the hope remains that the number of the interested ones still increases in the second competition week. But in principle, a solution would be to fall back on the tried and tested and the old saying applies: "Why go far, the good is so close...".
The good thing, in this specific case, are the stars of the past, who will be turning up in Planica. The number of Olympic champions, former world champions and world champions is astonishing. Janne Ahonen, Andreas Widhölzl, Adam Malysz, Anders Bardal, Martin Schmitt and Sven Hannawald would certainly attract fans to the venue even today in a fictitious invitation jump from a small hill. The same goes for the Nordic Combined and for the cross-country skiers, you have to be careful not to run over the ex-stars on the way to the track. Norway scores with Therese Johaug and Petter Northug, Italy could bring Cristian Zorzi to the start, the Swiss would probably fall back on Dario Cologna and the Germans would have the choice between Axel Teichmann, Tobias Angerer, Jens Filbrich or Claudia Nystad, who were spotted in Planica in different functions or - in the case of the two-time Olympic champion from the Erzgebirge - as spectators.
Whereby the time factor in a possible traditional race would certainly be an aspect to consider, because most of the former heroes and heroines are on the road professionally. Whether as officials , such as combiner Mario Stecher, as trainers, where Teichmann, Widhölzl or Horngacher stand out, in the technical field such as Zorzi or - especially popular - as TV experts. But it would certainly be worth a try and the audience would certainly have fun.
Pictures: K. Voigt Fotografie