Jürg Capol: "Biathletes have "overlapped" the World Ski Championship by their competitions in Khanty-Mansiysk"
27.01.2011 — Analysis
February of 2011 will become an acid test for the Russian Cross-Country Skiing team steeped in doping scandals. Last summer the driver's seat of the President of the Russian Cross-Country Skiing Federation, Vladimir Loginov, was taken by legendary Elena Vyalbe who immediately replaced the entire senior coaching staff of the country's main team. Then a comprehensive program was developed, targeting at prevention of banned substances. Now, it is time to demonstrate the outcome of all these measures on the ski-track. On February 4-6, Rybinsk (Yaroslavl Region) will host the World Cup competitions and on February 23, the World Championship will start in Oslo. Jürg Capol (Switzerland), head of the FIS Cross-Country Committee, told Andrei Kashcha, a "RusBusinessNews" reporter, about key events of the season.
- Mr. Capol, one month remains till the beginning of the World Championship-2011 in Oslo. Will the preparation work for the competitions be completed on schedule?
- A lot of organizational issues have been solved within the last six months. For example, all the ski-tracks are covered with artificial snow; special snow depots reserve more than 100,000 cubic meters of snow. I do hope that nature will be merciful, and skiers will compete on natural snow... Each time and with each World Championship, we learn a bit more and try to implement new ideas for the next competitions. Today, sports attract young educated people. But I think that life experience is still the key factor in our sport business. This experience will help us to organize everything top notch. I have no doubt that in a month the Norwegian capital will be completely ready for the competitions. We will have a beautiful sport festival with high-class competitions and a lot of fans.
- Let's hope that it will not be blighted by doping scandals.
- Independent experts of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will work in Oslo. All cross-country athletes will be tested (blood and urine tests). In addition, after each start four top athletes and another few athletes chosen at random will go through doping control.
- Is there any risk that numerous doping incidents have turned Russia into outcast-country in cross-country competitions?
- Of course positive cases in this field won't increase the thrust of the global community to Russia, but in autumn 2010, the FIS council was satisfied with the doping-prevention report prepared by the Russian Cross-Country Skiing Federation. I support and appreciate this decision. I hope that there will be no more such incidents.
- What is your opinion about some athletes who were involved in doping scandals and now are planning to return to professional sports after disqualification?
- First of all, I believe, all persons should be granted a second chance, but they may return to the ski-track only after punishment and atoning for their guilt.
- The present season of 2010-2011 is post-Olympic for winter sports. Do you expect that the World Championship can be a failure due to small television audience?
- No, I don't. First of all, Oslo is a unique venue for world cross-country skiing. I know that we are going to have full stadiums and numerous fans standing along the ski-tracks. Tickets for some of the events were sold out after a couple of weeks. The men's relay stirs the greatest interest. Secondly, even during the post-Olympic season we have recorded an increase in TV audience. It was especially evident during New Year holidays when the Tour de Ski event took place. But I still would like to go forward and I see further potential in cross-country skiing.
- One of the specifics of ski races is the format of competitions, which is changing year by year. Today, the World Championship includes many different events: sprints, marathons, relays, and pursuit. How well is the World Cup and World Championship program balanced?
- All athletes participating in the World Cup are great masters. And I understand their desire to have more competitions in their favorite field and favorite distance. However, I think that each of them has a lot of opportunities to show their worth in these competitions. Besides, we have Tour de Ski where within a short period of time, athletes are given an opportunity to take part in all the formats of ski sport. Thus, we can select and award the most universal top athletes - the queen and the king of cross-country skiing.
- So there will not be any reforms in the next few years?
- I guess, we have enough different disciplines and I would like to stabilize their formats. The FIS Cross-Country Committee is working hard to improve the platforms of the existing formats. Talking about innovations, we are planning to implement an up-and-down race at the World Cup level. It is a certain symbiosis of cross-country and Alpine skis. To be more appealing, the format should include a mass start.
- At the beginning of February in 2011, for the fifth time, Demino (Yaroslavl Region) will host the World Cross-Country Championship. Do you have any plans to extend the geography of the World Cup within Russia? Russia has reputed sports facilities in Tyumen and Khanty-Mansiysk.
- We were happy to be back in Russia in 2007. We point out positive dynamics of the World Cup events in Rybinsk. Next season of 2011-2012, we would like to introduce the second WC sprint event in Russia, which will take place in Moscow in February. This year test events will take place in the Russian capital on February 2nd, in Gorky Central Park. After the events we will assess the quality of organization and will make the final decision on the venue for the next World Club competitions.
- The proforma schedule for 2012-2013 includes Sochi as the venue for one of the World Cup events. Will Rybinsk be able to retain its position in the World Cup events of the pre-Olympic season?
- During the pre-Olympic season we must run test competitions on ski-tracks of the future Olympics venues. Of course, we will see if we are able to optimize the calendar to include Rybinsk as a venue for a World Cup event. But I cannot give promises - we have many nations, which would like to have WC's and, unfortunately, we are not able to satisfy all their requests.
- What can you say about construction of the ski stadium in Krasnaya Polyana?
- The development goes well ahead and I know that in Russia you can solve issues within a short term, unlike other countries. Then, the Local Organization Committee should be involved, hiring people and organizing volunteer teams. I believe that Russia is able to concentrate the power and human resources to make the games successful. As for test events at the new stadium, the first competition of the FIS level will take place in the 2011-2012 season. I don't know all the details about the dates and competition formats yet.
- Your strategic task, being the committee head, is to bring cross-country races as close as possible to biathlon in terms of popularity. On the other hand, not long ago biathlon was called a younger brother of cross-country skiing. Why are shooting skiers more popular today?
- We deal with different approaches. Cross-country skiing is a popular mass sport. In Europe, marathons are very popular among non-professional. Due to its narrower-scale of participation, biathlon focused on promotion through TV broadcasting. And it was successful. Certainly, we also promote our sport through television, when we have competitions of the World Cup, World Championship or Olympics levels. But from my point of view, the most important issue is how cross-country races will develop in future. Kids should be brought on snow and encouraged to do any outdoor winter sports.
- A number of Norwegian biathletes want to take part in the home-based World Cross-Country Championship. But due to its schedule, it overlaps the World Biathlon Championship. Sports fans will also have to tear themselves apart between broadcasts from Oslo and Khanty-Mansiysk. Why didn't FIS and the International Biathlon Union (IBU) settle this problem beforehand?
- The Nordic WSC was organized in cooperation with the Alpine WSC - we still are members of the same International Ski Federation. Then there were negotiations with the European Broadcasting Union, and the schedules of the two World Championships were approved in advance. Later, IBU decided to "overlap" our World Championship by its competitions. Of course, that's a pity that TV viewers will have to watch two championships at the same time. Moreover, it is of ill service to the rating. I agree, it should not happen in future.
The interview by Andrei Kashcha
|Regions||Project participants||Investment projects||Consulates and Trade Offices||News and Analysis||About the Project|
© RusBusinessNews, 2009.
All rights reserved.
Establishing a hyperlink to RIA RusBusinessNews is required for using any of the material published on this website.
News and analytical reviews are translated into foreign languages by the TRANSLIT Translation Agency
|«Sum of technologies»®