Dress rehearsal for Val di Fiemme
Spectacular is the only way to describe the finale of this year's Tour de Ski. The biggest cross-country race of the year has traditionally been held in Val di Fiemme (ITA) since 2007. Besides the formidable stretch in the cross-country stadium, the other major challenge facing the athletes is the three-kilometer "Piste Olympia III" alpine slope on the Alpe Cermis. This is the steepest and longest climb in any cross-country skiing venue and the final ascent to the Tour de Ski finish line. This year Alexander Legkov (RUS) and Therese Johaug (NOR) had kept the most energy in reserve for the men's and women's events respectively. They claimed the victory on the day of the final leg. The overall winner of the men's Tour de Ski, however, was Dario Cologna (SUI) who also secured the title in the previous year. Justyna Kowalczyk didn't waste any time on the final ascent in the women's event and the Pole defended her Tour de Ski title for the second time.
Despite years of experience in running major events, these races were anything but routine for the event organizers. They were effectively a rehearsal for the 2013 Nordic World Ski Championships which will also be held in Val di Fiemme - and what a brilliant rehearsal it turned out to be.
The cross-country stadium in Tesero is already completed, much to the satisfaction of the visitors. The entire infrastructure has been modernized. A new TechnoAlpin snow-making system has been installed in order to guarantee snow at the venue which is just 850 m above sea level. There was more to impress the visitors, however, than just the perfect organization of the actual races. The social events and support program also granted every possible wish. There was no time to be bored with all the various games, events and attractions on the fringes. The highlight for many visitors was the fan club parade through the center of Cavalese. Delicious local specialties and culinary treats were laid on for the visitors on the "Tour del Gusto".
All eyes in the Nordic ski world will once again be on northern Italy between 20.02.2013 and 03.03.2013. This is when Val di Fiemme will host the Nordic World Ski Championships for the third time, having previously hosted the event in 1991 and 2003. Having received such positive feedback this year, the fringe events will again play a key role during the 2013 world championships. The stated aim of the event organizers is to be the 'hosts with the most' and to keep the visitors entertained when the races are not on. The organizers already proved to be worthy world champions at the rehearsal.
Incidentally, the new ski jump approach ramps in Predazzo will undergo their final test at the Ski Jumping World Cup, with the women's events due to be held on 14 and 15 January and the men's events scheduled for 4 and 5 February.