Construction has begun at the National Arena, the final inspections are over and the first snow has already fallen in Åre where people are reaching for their winter gear. And it is time for the Opening of the Audi FIS Ski World Cup in Sölden, Austria. Saturday 27 October marks two important milestones: the start of the ski season 2018/2019 and just 100 days remaining until the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships Åre 2019.
The international alpine ski family gathers in Sölden for the opening of the ski season and the first FIS Ski World Cup races. The ladies will kick their season off on the Rettenbach glacier on Saturday at 10:00 CET. Both Sara Hector and Frida Hansdotter will be among the starters.
– This is the time when you really look forward to ski racing. I love this anticipation, when you are working really hard for something and then soon it is time for competition and you are ready. It is a combination of calm and expectation and you have tons of energy, said Hector.
The men’s turn will come on Sunday - same time, same place. Matts Olsson, Mattias Rönngren and World Cup rookie Jesper Brändholm will be carrying the Swedish colors.
– I am most excited about racing again, that is the most fun. I think that everything related to racing is what it is all about. It is all the adrenaline and some nerves that tell you that it’s for real, said Mattias Rönngren.
For the Ski Team Sweden Alpine the competitions in Sölden mark the start of an important season with high expectations and the main goal of the home Championships in Åre. The Olympic Winter Games 2018 brought two Olympic gold medals thanks to the outstanding performances by André Myhrer and Frida Hansdotter. Now it is time to refocus and work toward new goals on home snow.
– It is fantastic to have World Championships at home. I was able to participate and collect experience at Åre 2007 and now it is my turn to return in the same situation that Anja was then, ready to fight for medals. I cannot wait to race there again, said Frida Hansdotter.
The number of entries arriving for Åre 2019 also shows that the season is underway. 25 nations have submitted their entries by 25 October. This includes entries from exotic ski nations such as Madagascar, South Africa, Moldavia, Ireland and Haiti, as well as Italy and Switzerland.
The days before the races in Sölden are full of press conferences and meetings. CEO of Åre 2019 Niklas Carlsson provided a Championships overview to the attendees at the annual FIS Alpine Forum. Representatives of Åre are also meeting with the teams and media at the season opening information sessions, the AIJS General Assembly and the FIS Chiefs of Media Meeting to discuss especially the logistics and services planned for Åre 2019.
– Wow, it is getting close. 100 day is a magic milestone, it is still ways out but yet so close, said Karin Stolt Halvarsson, Media & Broadcasting Manager for Åre 2019 who is attending the Sölden weekend.
The ski family is looking forward to Åre, which feels good, said she.
– It is important to be here to manage our relationships with the who is who in skiing, and to feel the pre-season excitement. We have had extremely positive feedback on the World Championships. Åre 2019 is perceived as professional, welcoming and a sure bet to deliver a great event, added Stolt Halvarsson.
Swedish racers in Sölden
- Frida Hansdotter
- Sara Hector
- Estelle Alphand
- Magdalena Fjällström
- Matts Olsson
- Mattias Rönngren
- Jesper Brändholm