8-9-10 January 2021

Tour de Ski 100th stage, Sprint and Final Climb

Mignerey (FIS) describes the format in Val di Fiemme


From 3rd to 5th January final stage of Tour de Ski in Val di Fiemme
Interview with Pierre Mignerey – FIS race director Cross-Country
The race director Enzo Macor describes the Cross-Country Stadium in Lago di Tesero
Live coverage Rai Sport and Eurosport

Today the cross-country skiers have some time to rest before the last stage of Tour de Ski scheduled from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th January in Val di Fiemme. Tomorrow there will be the 10km and 15km Classic mass starts – 100th stage of Tour de Ski –, on Saturday a new sprint event and on Sunday the usual Final Climb, but this year in a mass start format, without forgetting the tenth edition of ‘Rampa con I Campioni’ (entry fee: 25 euros until tomorrow).
Pierre Mignerey, FIS Cross-Country race director, gave us his impressions of the new format of the final stage of Tour de Ski in Val di Fiemme: “It will be interesting, from the sprint almost at the end of the Tour to the new mass start on Alpe Cermis, a new challenge showing the winner of the day, but on the screens it will be possible to know who is leading the Tour de Ski in real time. I think it will be an added value”. Val di Fiemme is the only venue to have hosted all editions of Tour de Ski, and it is no longer just a “stage” of the Tour: “The Final Climb on Alpe Cermis is part of the ‘brand’ of the Tour, also thanks to the reliable organisation in Val di Fiemme, both in the Tour and in the FIS Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping World Cups. It is a ‘reliable’ place in terms of quality of the organisation, the team is really welcoming and everyone is always happy to come to Val di Fiemme”, stated Mignerey. Tomorrow’s stage will be ‘celebratory’, the 100th stage of Tour de Ski: “We have always been convinced that a stage race could be interesting, something never seen before, so we’re not surprised by the success it has had so far”. The Tour de Ski is a good occasion to test new race formats but… “it should remain true to the essence of cross-country skiing: the original idea was to gather all the best athletes, the strong ones in all existing race formats. Scandinavian athletes, for example, are very ‘conservative’ and turn their noses up when they notice that the Tour de Ski program is too different from the one they are used to. So: we say yes to innovation, but let’s preserve the nature of the discipline”. Mignerey doesn’t seem to be worried about the problem with the retirements: "Many athletes retire after each stage, probably due to the fast pace; this year the Tour de Ski is slightly different, we tried to keep the sprinters for longer by adding a sprint in the last stage. The fact is that when many athletes realize that they don't have much chance in the overall standings, they simply retire. This is not just a problem of the Tour de Ski, we need to work with the teams and sponsors to deal with it in the whole cross-country skiing world”.
The venue of the races will as always be the Cross-Country Stadium in Lago di Tesero, which in 2026 will host the Winter Olympic Games. But why are the Val di Fiemme courses considered to be among the most difficult of the Tour de Ski and the World Cup calendar? The race director Enzo Macor answers: “They are considered tough because they have difficult climbs (about 20% of gradient), but also some difficult downhills with turns placed in the middle of them or at the end that do not give time to ‘rest’”. So an athlete never loosens the tension? “Only in some sections, especially in the Stadium, where the athletes can use the kick-double-pole technique, the rest is all diagonal stride or downhill technique”. Some complex sections have their own name, referring to owners of the land, morphological zones or former champions: "For example the “Valena” climb – said Macor – which before the 2013 World Championships was a small valley leading to the upper meadows, or the "Zorzi" climb, the name of the owners, while the only climb that has an evident cross-country history is the "Brink" climb, where Jörgen Brink had some problems in 2003".
All the races in Val di Fiemme will be broadcast live by Eurosport and Rai Sport, as well as by the most important international broadcasters. Last year (as well as in the previous seasons), the Final Climb in Val di Fiemme reached the peak of World Cup ratings, and this year could mark yet another record.
Next week, Val di Fiemme will host the FIS Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping World Cups. Yesterday the snow of the large hill (HS 135) slid down on the frozen ground. So, with FIS authorisation, specifically by Walter Hofer (ski jumping) and Lasse Ottesen (Nordic combined), the races will take place on the normal hill (HS 104), which was completed some time ago.

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