The effort of the more than 20-hour trip in addition
to a time difference of 7 hours to Central Europe
is intense, but still Hakuba is worth it. For most
athletes, the trip to Japan, and to the city located
about 300 km northwest of Tokyo, takes about five
days, two of which are required for the trip.
The flight from Frankfurt, Munich or Zurich to Tokyo
takes about 11 hours, some of the teams might need
additional flights for example from Prague or Oslo,
and then there is the ride with the Japanese high-speed
train Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano. The trip
is long and exhausting, but at the same time it
is also exciting.
Hakuba is a winter sports resort with about 10 000
inhabitants where many tourists from Australia and
the USA spend their winter vacations. The snow sometimes
piles up to a couple of meters. In summer the Chu"bu
region in the Nagano prefecture with its 3000 m-high
mountains is a popular hiking area.
In 1998 the Olympic medals in the ski jumping events
of the Olympic Games in Nagano were awarded at the
hills in Hakuba.
Jani Soininen (NH), Kazuyoshi Funaki (LH) and the
team of Japan won Gold and the celebrations at the
hills in Hakuba were unforgettable.
16 years after the Olympic Games the facility is
still in a great condition and is regularly used
for training, national competitions and the FIS
Grand Prix. This is a prime example for the sustainability
of Olympic facilities after the Games.
From a sporting point of view, a prediction will
not be possible until after the training. Of course
the top athletes of last summer, who are all competing
here, will be among the best: Noriaki Kasai, Simon
Ammann and Jernej Damjan are the favorites for a
podium result in the two competitions in Hakuba
2014. Also young Norwegian Phillip Sjoeen, who is
the best in the overall ranking of the jumpers in
Japan, has to be considered among the favorites.
After the testing phase recently, the competitions
in Hakuba will be carried out with old format of
the past winter again. This means two competition
rounds and no groups. There will be no qualification
in Hakuba, because only 48 athletes are competing.