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The 38th Forum Nordicum in Klingenthal (Deutschland) - What is important for the Olympic winter?

on 2017-11-13

The jumpers were in their last training camps just ahead oft he winter and also the equipment got its final touches. Mentally, all involved persons are already in the winter mode anyway. But, which things are important to know for all watchers, such as fans and journalists? Our editor Luis Holuch explains it in his second report from the 38th Forum Nordicum.

“For us, summers are always an opportunity to test new ideas and check if they would work in real life”, Walter Hofer said during his presentation. And, just like in any other summer, questions about rules were answered. The big experiments with different cuttings and sizes of jumping suits or competition formats, which would influence overall standings of several events, are not on the agenda of the Olympic winter. The major step the FIS made is: just like in the summer, the qualification is a must-do for every single jumper. This means, also the best ten jumpers of the World Cup standing do not have their pre-qualified status anymore. Exactly this caused more and more discussions among media and fans due to the fact that the qualification did have a significant lower value than the actual competitions. “We did not notice any difficulties during the test in the summer”, Walter Hofer explained the discussion.

In connection with the new qualification rule, a new type of competition was invented. “Willingen Five” is a small series which consists of one qualification and two individual competitions. Those, who are among the best 50 in this qualification are qualified for both individual competitions; the other jumpers are not going to have any competition jump the weekend. At the end of the weekend, all results will be counted together and the winner will be found. This jumper earns – additionally to the regular World Cup prize money – 25,000 Euros. “Moreover, we will have an additional bib for the overall leader, just like at the Four Hills Tournament”, the chief of press of Willingen’s World Cup organizing committee, Dieter Schütz, told. From now on, besides the Four Hills and RAWAir, there will be a third event during the season, where the qualification will influence the overall ranking in that specific event.

For the first time in history, the opening will take place in Wisła (Poland), and even one week earlier (17th until 19th of November). Thanks to a snow depot, the snow situation is already secured, just as great atmosphere – all available tickets are already sold out. “The Wisła OC said they did not want to remain kind of a support act for Zakopane during the week. They rather wanted an own weekend and applied as the opening”, Walter Hofer said. In addition to that, building measures like the new inrun track and a wind screen were the reasons for this decision. Besides Wisła, also Nizhniy Tagil (wind screen either) and Titisee-Neustadt (installation of floodlights) made investments on infrastructure which helped them getting back the World Cup too, according to Hofer. These two places will host World Cups at the first two weekends of December.

In the Ladies’ World Cup, three new inventions, besides the new regulated qualification, are coming up. The opening weekend in Lillehammer consists of three competitions for the first time, which will be put together for the so-called Mini-Tour. The first two competitions will be held on the normal hill (HS98), the final competition with the best 30 jumpers of the overall ranking on the large hill (HS140). Almost similar to the “Willingen Five” (only difference: qualifications do not influence the final score), the results will be counted together and an overall winner will be found. The additional prize money for the Mini-Tour will be 10,000 Euros. A real world premiere will take place in Hinterzarten on the 16th of December: the first team competition in course of the World Cup. “The development of ladies’ ski jumping shows it is possible to ask at least eight nations for nominating a team of four jumpers”, Walter Hofer said about this move. Besides Hinterzarten, also Zao (Japan) will host a team competition, one month later. The third new key fact is the World Cup Final, which was moved to the same weekend as the World Cup Final of the men. While the men will have their ski flyings in Planica, the ladies will jump in Oberstdorf.

New in the ski jumping talks is an analysis tool, which is product in development from a cooperation of FIS and its data service partner Swiss-Timing. With the help of a chip with 30 gram of weight, some more performance data of the jumpers should be gained. Especially, the take-off movement is a concern. During the FIS summer grand prix final in Klingenthal, eight high speed cameras were placed next to the take-off. The recordings of these cameras were converted into statistic material. This material allowed all interested persons to read if the jumper was too early or too late at the (in centimeters) and how much power he used at the take-off. Just like the laser line (also a tool by Swiss Timing), this analysis tool can be built up by the organizer, if a costumer wishes for that. In how far and also when the tool will be used – especially from TV stations – is not clear yet.

After his presentation, Walter Hofer stayed a little longer at the place for answering some questions. As we reported a couple of weeks ago, several hill data were changed. In a short talk with Luis Holuch, Walter Hofer clarified why and how this did happen: “This was Miran Tepeš‘s idea. Since he started travelling around with the ladies, he noticed they have a different flight curve than their male colleagues, basically due to the higher inrun speed. This is why the landing pressure is generally higher, and especially at higher distances.“ Following this, something needed to happen in order to minimize the risk of injuries – which appeared more often in the last couple of years. Tepeš’s concept focused on the hill sizes, primarily. „In earlier days, there were about 15 different aspects which generated the hill sizes. Some have had a higher impact, some did not”, Hofer explained. “Now, we fixed: on normal hills, the hill size is at 32 degrees steepness, on large hills at 31 degrees and on flying hills a bit lower, at about 28 or 27 degrees.”

Besides the reduction of the landing pressure, a big advantage of this change is the jury will have less meetings on larger hills. “According to the rules, the jury members would have to meet if a jumper reaches 95 percent of the hill size. But actually, this happens quite a lot, especially on the flying hills. So, this rule change reduces (partly unnecessary) work”, Walter Hofer said. The following statistic might explain the phenomenon appropriately: on the first World Cup weekend of the re-opened ski-flying hill in Oberstdorf, the start gate has been changed nine times in total. In order to minimize this number, the hill size has been increased to 235 instead of 225 meters. Nevertheless, Walter Hofer did not want to make this concern bigger as it actually is: “For us, the most important thing still is to complete competitions. With this action, we do not stop any discussions of media or organizers about new hill or world records. But, if someone came to me and offered the winner of a competition will be found before he reached the hill size, I would accept this offer immediately.”

As already mentioned, the changes in the equipment sector, are not that remarkable. Real news only come from the ski market. With BWT, whose skis are made in the FISCHER factory, a completely new player has stepped into the market. The Austrian company, which is world leader in water technology, is extending its sports sponsoring portfolio. Since beginning of 2017, BWT is already a major sponsor of the Formula 1 team Force India, which is easy to notice on the race track thanks to its pink racing cars. A similar design was painted on the jumping skis. Back in the business again is, which left out the past season due to insolvency proceedings. Just like before and also while Verivox was the ski sponsor, the skis are produced in the S.K.I.-factory (former Germina) in Floh-Seligenthal. As it can be seen in the photos, the design has been changed a little into a brighter style. In course of the presentation of the business, a short talk with Thomas Diethart, Björn Kircheisen and the young German Felix Hoffmann, which all are jumping with skis, was held.


Der Vortrag von Walter Hofer beim Forum Nordicum
So funktioniert das "Willingen Five"
Homepage der S.K.I.-Skiproduktions-GmbH
Homepage of SwissTiming



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