The Åre 2018 FIS Ski World Cup Finals serve as dress rehearsal for the World Championships slopes, inaugurate the new start houses for both downhills, and introduce a few other changes to the Åre 2019 field of play.
History was made in Åre on 21-22 February 1986 when the World Cup organizers first were able to reap the rewards of two years of construction and much hard work. That’s when Åre hosted its first ever men’s downhill FIS World Cup race – an unforgettable milestone to say the least.
– People were euphoric that it was so gutsy. Bernhard Russi (Editor’s note: After whom the classic Russi Jump has been named) was visiting us here and I remember that he told us to not prepare the course but instead open and let the tourists to ski it before the race. Are you serious, I said, but we then kept it open until a couple of hours before we set the course. It was cool, but tough, says Nalle Hansson, long-time Chief of Race at the Åre World Cups.
However, not all felt equally positive about the organizers’ efforts. The Canadian team packed up their bags and left for home after the inspection because they deemed the course to be “too difficult.”
Having the start atop Mount Åre was a challenge per se. With the winds often reaching speeds around 30 meters per second it was not always safe to race and after a while, the start was moved further down.
Before the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2019, the organizers decided to return to the top and moved the men’s downhill start where it originally was.
– I think we are going to see one of the most spectacular downhill races in the world in Åre in 2019. Jumps up to 75 meters of length and compression that will make even Svindal sweat, says Hans Olsson, Chief of Race for the men’s downhill.
– When the downhill in Åre is prepared the “right” way it will be awesome, I promise!
Even the ladies’ downhill slope, which has not been raced since the Åre 2007 Championships where Anja Pärson triumphed, has gone through a facelift. The start has been changed to make it more challenging and the revamped course will now be tested in race mode during the Åre 2018 Finals.
A number of changes have been undertaken to prepare Åre and the National Arena for the 2019 flagship event. The Arena House was extended to provide sufficient space for the growing organizational needs and to provide the racers, visitors and officials with ideal conditions during both the World Cup Finals 2018 and the World Championships in 2019. Most importantly, the additional facilities will enable various sport and community events and activities post-2019.
In good cooperation with partner and presenting sponsor SkiStar, substantial terrain work has been completed on the both the courses, the snow-making system has been updated and new coaches and staff platforms built on the slopes. The training hills at Duved have also received enhancements to the lighting and snow-making systems.