Nordic Skiing – Those characters at the World Championships in Planica that give you chills and make you think – Fondo Italia
There was great anticipation for the first historian world From the Nordic skiing hosted by Slovenia, a country that already has experience in major events, it also hosts every year the Ski Jumping World Cup flying competitions, an event that Slovenes live with great passion.
A nation that loves winter sports and the Nordic countries in particular, Slovenia. Just wander around the block to find many restaurants, bars and pubs constantly broadcasting winter sports, particularly ski jumping and alpine skiing. It is impossible to imagine watching a football match in a place with only one TV, while at the same time there is a big ski jumping competition or a basketball match of local idol Luka Doncic.
However, the World Cup in Slovenia will be remembered as a failure in terms of public attendance. The organizing committee had very high expectations, they wanted to earn as much as possible by asking unreasonable prices for tickets for cross-country skiing competitions, since the prices for “affiliated” hotels were too high. When we ourselves asked to sleep in a partner hotel, we were offered a hotel for 250 euros per night. No thanks, better room on Airbnb in Bled.
Ticket prices were even more insane when you consider that in a sport like cross-country skiing, for example, the athletes only pass inside the stadium on a few occasions and the race is often highlighted elsewhere on the track, except, not always, for races like the speed and difference.
about the enemy. to show letters Planica 2023 on the big screen Within the field, it was well thought out to block the last 30 inches of all heat from the gallop. In this way, we the media, but also all the other people on the side of the track or in the lower rows of the runway, including the athletes themselves, never had a chance to see what was happening. Imagine how easy it was to ask questions of busy athletes, without us being able to see the last 30 seconds of the race.
But let’s go back to the initial discourse about low attendances. Given the passion of the Slovenian people for this sport, it was inevitable that we would ask the locals who watched the evening alpine skiing competitions in the bars what are the reasons for the lack of audience attendance at the stadium, even for ski jumping, a national institution, we ended up talking about. “Greedy” they told us, referring to the “greedy” organizers. It was unfortunate that The Islamic Salvation FrontAnd Planica and Slovenia They missed a great opportunity, to showcase the beautiful World Cup that raised these disciplines, but also in attracting thousands of fans from other countries, who would end up falling in love with the site, because it is impossible not to be conquered. Bled, Planica, Kranjska Gora and surrounding areas. Seeing the village for the fans in the evening, in Kranjska Gora, empty, desolate, a reminder of the enthusiasm we experienced in Seefeld in 2019, really hurts the heart and even worse for those people who were also ready to work and welcome the fans. We don’t even want to think about how much they have to pay to secure a booth.
The numbers in attendance were without pity, though many important figures and even the days when schools were brought to give little overview. Appearances, announced by the CO with a paper pinned to the media center’s bulletin board on the final day of competitions, include cross-country skiing and ski jumping.
Wednesday, February 22: 4,000 spectators
Thursday, February 23: 5,500
Friday, February 24: 5,000
Saturday, February 25: 7.200
Sunday, February 26: 5,600
Tuesday, February 28: 3900
Wednesday, March 1: 6.400
Thursday, March 2: 4,500
Friday, March 3: 8,500
Saturday, March 4: 9.300
Sunday, March 5: 3,500.
In total, therefore, 63,100 spectators, an average of 5,736 daily. Comparison with what we experienced directly in Oberhof in the last two weeks, with only biathlon, and therefore the discipline one against three, only 12 races with medals awarded against 24, not counting jumping qualifications, is merciless. In fact, in Germany, the total number of spectators was more than 150,000, in just nine days of competition, an average of more than 16,500 spectators a day, with impressive numbers in the last weekend, more than 23,000 spectators, so much so that from the polygon, where we were There, you could hear the excitement of the crowds flocking to the Birx-Steig. It is impressive to think that the Biathlon World Cup stage in Nove Mesto had higher numbers than the Nordic Ski World Cup.
Losing interest in Nordic skiing? Partially yes, but this year we have seen a public performance at Les Rousses that suggests the opposite. Even in Val di Fiemme on sprint day, we had a feel and a warmth that Plancia lacked. Maybe you just need to organize the competitions in the best way to attract people, and think of one big event that fans can participate in even outside of the race itself.
Today’s numbers compared to those of ten years ago in Val di Fiemme are certainly cause for concern. If in Slovenia we had a total of 63,100 spectators, in Val di Fiemme we had a total of about 365,000 spectators for the races, which with the addition of the award ceremonies resulted in an attendance of more than 415,000, in a World Cup that did not see Italy win any medals. Even in Seefeld the numbers were very similar to those in Fiemme, and that was 2019! We remember a lot of Norwegians, Finns, Swedes, Italians, the convenience of travel, excellent organization, humane prices, constant parties and the impossibility of finding a free table for dinner at least until 10 pm.
In addition to the mistakes of the organizing committee, which in this aspect were obvious and certainly decisive for the very low number of viewers, it must also be emphasized that the FIS contributes various errors to this drop in attendance. It is quite clear that there is less interest in cross-country skiing. For once, among the mistakes of the FIS, we do not want to highlight the race formats and calendars, there is often a speech which we will obviously take up again, but we focus on communication. In this aspect, comparison with biathlon is painful, especially for a discipline as historical and emotional as cross-country skiing.
The IBU includes the athletes, creates the characters, after the races conducts interviews with the top three finishers not finished in a minute in the usual adverbs terms. Press conferences are held at the World Championships, with all the athletes attending together, something that did not happen at Planica, where the three seeded were rarely seen sitting together at one table; Each for himself, other than the “family”. The media itself is very different in biathlon than in cross-country skiing, and the presence of the IBU is also felt in the media center, which we did not notice in the FIS world.
IBU Communications creates content for fans, games and interviews, and allows fans to get to know the athletes better, not just the winners. But above all in biathlon, limiting the discipline to Scandinavia alone has been avoided. It is important to make sure everyone feels involved. In Scandinavian skiing, especially in cross-country skiing, one increasingly gets the impression that everything is done according to two or three countries, all of them Nordic. With the exception of ski jumping, where the presence of the following modes is more diverse, it also includes many countries of mainland Europe.
In cross-country skiing, the media in Scandinavia create content that FIS has to think of, similar to that of biathlon, but they do it right for their own publications and therefore for their countries. Cross-country skiing is now restricted to Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia, when it returns. The dominant presence of these countries swallows everything else, when it should be the FIS that takes the situation into its own hands, creating content in English that can be used in Italy, France, Germany and other countries in the Alpine region or in the United States. Not pointless one-minute interviews, with the same phrases, but much more. In today’s sports world, characters are created, and that’s what the public wants, and you can see it in motorsport as well and in biathlon, it works too.
The first to understand that we need to open up and go beyond the Scandinavian countries alone are the Scandinavians, very helpful and also open to our needs, good at getting athletes to talk to the non-Scandinavian media, when possible, after twenty or thirty. Interviews between Norwegian and Swedish TV, radio and newspaper websites. It is clear, however, that the time available is not much, and one or two questions can be asked, otherwise each athlete would remain in the mixed area for more than two hours. It would be useful to combine this space with content generated by FIS, which unfortunately is missing and if anything, is certainly of lower quality than what we are used to in biathlon. What do we do with a minute interview or even less?
It is imperative for the FIS to take this step forward in communication rather than continuing to live in its own bubble. It is not a crime to get inspiration and maybe copy from those who work better. The important thing is to intervene, otherwise, with the exception of Scandinavia, the numbers are destined to collapse year after year in the rest of the world.
Then there is the more important aspect related to the calendars and racing formats. We’ll talk about the latter later, because summer is long. On calendars, let’s just point out that the official biathlon calendar has already been released and a fan can already take their holidays knowing when the World Cup competitions will take place, even with a lot of departure times. There is also a draft in the exact weeks for competitions until 2026, something unimaginable in cross-country skiing, where a draft is created, not published, because then everything would have to be turned around to meet the fickle needs of some northern European country. In May there will be a first draft, with the risk of having to change again in October. No, that doesn’t help the fans, you’d better start understanding it, if you really don’t want to turn a sport that’s more popular than you think into a niche.
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