Spectacular new complex in Shchuchinsk inaugurated
It has been one of the most ambitious and intense projects in the history of ski jumping, but after nine years of building it finally was there: The brand new ski jumping hill complex in Shuchinsk was inaugurated by the Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev himself. Skijumpinghill.com knows about all the details of this high-modern mega complex in Kazakhstan.
For sure, the opening of the Burabay Ski Jumps is a historical event for the small wintersport nation of Kazakhstan, so was the opening of the facility in Almaty (about 1,500 km south-east) a few years ago either. Consequently, the Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev attended personally to inaugurate this new large and normal hill. But also the ski jumpers‘ guest list included some well-known names, such as Slovenia’s master of ski flying Jurij Tepeš and his fellow countryman Cene Prevc, the second-youngest Prevc brother next to male and female members of the Kazakh national teams in ski jumping and Nordic Combined.
Tepeš with a spectacular jump on a spectacular facility
The president’s speech was just over when Tepeš already produced the first spectacular jump on this spectacular facility: The two-time World Cup winner jumped incredible 154 meters and had to touch the ground while the workers, which spent the last two weeks before the opening with finishing works, finally could rest. And the journey until this moment has been quite a long and expensive (38 billion Tenge, approx. 9.5 million Euro) one.
The first plans for a ski jumping hill complex in this region, which is about 250 km north from the Kazakh capital Astana, have already been made in 2006. The town of Shchuchinsk with its 50,000 inhabitants is not that big, but a popular wintersport destination in Kazakhstan and also the birthplace of a few cross-country and biathlon athletes.
The large and normal hill now belong to the Olympic Ski Center, just like a new hotel and the existing biathlon course, which now shall became the new national training base for all athletes in the Nordic disciplines (ski jumping, cross country and Nordic combined) and biathlon. Only the future will show if this is going to happen since there are currently no further (especially smaller) ski jumping hills (which might be built soon according to Kazakh media reports) in Shchuchinsk and the distances to Almaty and also Ridder, which both used to be the home of many Kazakh ski jumpers and Nordic combined athletes, are quite big.
Long stage of planning – an even longer of building a world novelty
It took three years until the works on this unique facility started. One of the main reasons for that was a difficult decision for architects and constructor on how exactly this facility should be built, as the architects' office explained (see below at "Links"). In the end, they decided to the smallest possible changes of the nature at the place. Instead of bringing on an artificial slope and hill, an artificial hole has been dig out. This trick made it possible to realize a holistic concept, so that the ski jumping hills and all the belonging facilities of the whole complex, such as judges’ tower, lift, spectators’ stands and other buildings belong to the same building structure.
And that is not all: The ski jumping hill complex consists of two inrun tracks and slopes, but just of one, 79.4 meters high, inrun tower, which is an absolute world novelty. In addition to that, the location of this tower was chosen according to the main wind direction, so that mostly head wind is going to be there. A feature, which Tepeš clearly benefited from during his jump. Still, the wind could remain a topic here, especially its speed; The head coach of the Kazakh national ski jumping team Kairat Beekenov noted already in early building stage that the size of the jumps could be dangerous due to the wind speeds at the location.
Not as new as the idea and the construction of the inrun tower, but still special, are the spectators’ stands, which are (at least) a bit similar to those in Innsbruck (cauldron structure) and Oslo. The capacity is around 15,000 people, but thanks to the design it is possible to add another approximately 7,000 people on natural stands, which are right in front of the ski jumping hills, just a bit behind the stadium itself.
Hofer and Tielmann impressed – COC in Shchuchinsk possible
Not only the jumpers and the sport fans in Kazakhstan, but also two members of the International Ski Federation FIS were impressed by the new facility. Race Director Walter Hofer and COC Coordinator Horst Tielmann said on berkutschi.com: "They built an impressive new facility which has everything ski jumpers could wish for. We are looking forward to upcoming international competitions in Shchuchinsk, possibly already next year."
Currently, the FIS is thinking about giving a Continental Cup with two competitions to Shchuchinsk. The calendar draft for the winter 2018/19 shows to gaps on January 30th and 31st (Wednesday and Thursday) and on March 2nd and 3rd (Saturday and Sunday). The first option is between COCs in Planica (Saturday and Sunday, 26th and 27th of January) and Erzurum (Friday and Saturday, 1st and 2nd of February); the second between COCs in Brotterode (Saturday and Sunday, 24th and 25th of February) and Rena (Saturday and Sunday, 9th and 10th of March). If an athlete or a team would like to jump at least at two of these three destinations, it would be a logistical challenge. In case this plan is not going to work, the first international competition is supposed to take place in the winter 2019/20.
Ski Jumps:Shchuchinsk (National Ski Center)
Almaty (Gorney Gigant)
|Olympic Ski Center Shchuchinsk on mabetex.com (English)
|Burabay Ski Jumps on the archtitects' office homepage (English and German)