TT - Ottesen: "The Weekend
Challenge winner will be a true champion!"
The Summer Grand Prix 2013 is history and now it's
already time to be focussing and preparing for a
new winter season in FIS. For today's TUESDAY TALK,
fisnc.com spoke to Race Director Lasse Ottesen about
the plans for the new season highlight, the Weekend
Challenge, the ideas behind it and the process of
What was the main idea behind creating an event
like the Weekend Challenge for Nordic Combined?
Why is it important?
Lasse Ottesen: The main idea behind the Weekend
Challenge is actually old. It came from the Warsteiner
Grand Prix which we had in Nordic Combined some
years ago. It was the "Tour" of Nordic
Combined and one of the highlights of the season.
It's been some years now since the Warsteiner Grand
Prix ended and it's definitely about time that we
start with a new World Cup highlight. We have World
Championships and Olympics but in our World Cup
calendar, we don't have a major event. Like all
of the other disciplines and especially our Nordic
colleagues in cross-country and ski jumping, we
will now also have a World Cup highlight in the
With events like the Four Hills Tournament or the
Tour the Ski already in place, isn't this only copying
the multiple-day-event from them?
Ottesen: No, it's not copying anything. It's a Nordic
Combined Weekend Challenge, a three-day event, a
long weekend if you want to call it like that. But
for sure we had a look at what our colleagues in
cross-country skiing and ski jumping are doing,
what their experiences have been, what has been
working and what did not.
So of course, we have taken the best ideas from
those two big events and then discussed "What
can we do in Nordic Combined?" That's the way
we started working on the Weekend Challenge one
and a half years ago.
What was the biggest challenge in coming up with
the event? Finding the best place for it, creating
the rules, the general concept,Е?
Ottesen: Well, I would say it's a mix of all of
these areas. The first idea we had was to bring
in more of our venues to have a longer Challenge.
But the main point of discussion in the end is the
TV times and dates and how to put a big event like
that into an already very full TV calendar.
So I would say that the first thing was to come
up with a good idea. Then on the one hand, we had
to establish the rules and figure out how to go
through with the Challenge and the other part was
to find an organiser that was willing to host this
new product. It needed to be an experienced and
established Organising Committee which knew how
Nordic Combined works. We ended up chosing Seefeld
and the Austrian Ski Federation and I am sure we
are in good hands there.
The Weekend Challenge will take part for the first
time in this upcoming winter on the weekend of the
17th till 19th of January. Why was this date chosen?
Ottesen: Well, the Four Hills Tournament and the
Tour de Ski are more or less happening at the same
time. So in cooperation with our marketing department
and the organisers and TV, it was important to find
the best place in time for our Nordic Combined event.
So we will wait until these two big events are over
to give everybody the opportunity to also follow
Nordic Combined's main event.
We did not want to fight for the audience with these
two main events. But we have seen in the TV ratings
in the last couple of years that Nordic Combined
is growing and hopefully this will be one more step
with the Weekend Challenge to grow even more.
The starting times and dates are a big puzzle every
year that we start to build in April right after
the season. But every nation has their own needs
and wishes and so has every discipline, so it's
never easy to satisfy everybody. But the cooperation
between the disciplines, especially in FIS is getting
better and better and this is helping all disciplines.
How are the reactions in Nordic Combined?
Ottesen: So far, we have had really positive feedback
from athletes and coaches. The teams are really
positive. As it is the first year we might encounter
small issues here and there that we might need to
improve going into the future but I am also quite
sure that it will be really exciting. I hope that
the athletes and all of the spectators will find
this Challenge to be interesting and exciting to
What will be the hardest thing about the Weekend
Challenge for the athletes?
Ottesen: The hardest thing will be to have three
tough races on three consecutive days. At the same
time this are elite athletes on the highest level
of the Nordic disciplines. They are not called the
ultimate winter athletes for nothing and will be
capable to handle three days of competitions. The
recovery will be one issue for sure, the other one
will be tactics. It's going to be really interesting
to see how the different nations and athletes will
be going into this event and what kind of tactics
they are planning. Though of course, the best tactic
will probably be to win all three races (laughs).
What makes the winner a true champion?
Ottesen: The system we created means that we're
taking results from each day to the next day throughout
the weekend. The winner needs to be the best one
throughout the whole weekend. It's not only winning
one day and hanging back the next day, that's not
going to take you all the way to the top.
At the same time, we have three very different races.
We start with a Prolog of one jump and 5 km skiing,
then we have our regular Individual Gundersen (1
jump and 10 km) and final is our classic Nordic
Combined format with two jumps and 15 kilometres.
So the Weekend Challenge winner will be a true Nordic
Combined champion being best one in this very different
kinds of races. He will definitely prove that he
is the best Nordic Combined skier at that point