It is not usual for a region with only 130 000 inhabitants on a surface area equal to the size of Switzerland to host two World Championships within a period of six weeks. But that’s exactly what will happen in 2019 when both Åre and Östersund welcome the world’s very best athletes in Alpine Skiing and Biathlon, respectively. The region already boasts extensive experience in event organization. Both venues have staged World Championships before and are regular hosts of World Cup events in Alpine Skiing and Biathlon. Regardless, the organization of two World Championships during a single winter presents a formidable challenge.
– In light of the size of our region, it is huge and from the perspective of sports, it is gigantic for such a small area to host two World Championships in the same year! It is great testimony to the experience and competence of this region in hosting large international events, said Karin Stolt Halvarsson who is responsible for liaison with the WCR within the Åre 2019 organization.
Both Östersund and Åre applied to host the World Championships in 2019. When Åre secured the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in May 2014, the host of the IBU Biathlon World Championships 2019 had not yet been confirmed. However, owing to the hard working organization and a world class arena in Östersund, Jämtland also prevailed in the race for the award of the Biathlon title event.
– When we received the good news in 2014 it was with a feeling that our biathlon colleagues might not be hosting the 2019 Championships. But they turned our success into theirs and with a big heart and much hard work managed to bring the Biathlon World Championships to Östersund, said Stolt Halvarsson.
The World Championships Region (WCR) was created to ensure that the region takes advantage of these international highlight events. WCR is jointly owned by Åre 2019 AB and Biathlon Events in Sweden AB, which is the entity responsible for carrying out the Östersund 2019 Biathlon World Championships. One of the goals of WCR is to create a network of companies in and around the region of Jämtland/Härjedalen to grow interest in the Championships and more than 100 companies are already members of the network today.
The WCR representatives work to spread knowledge and develop both national and international connections. This is the rationale for visits to, for example, St Moritz during the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2017 and the Swedish political week in Almedalen. Another purpose of WCR is to find out how to make the most out of an international event, such as the World Championships. During the Almedalen week, WCR organized a seminar with its partner Mittuniversitetet to discuss what opportunities large international events create for a region. Specific topics included how to enhance knowledge and competence, grow population and create opportunities for the regional industry.
– Together we want to create value for each other and a foundation for large events in the future. WCR is a network sharing a common vision of this region which is to become a future meeting place and a great place to live and work.
There is already great experience and expertise in the organizing committees and the region yet the WCR aims to further develop this know-how to attract new residents and events to the area. The hope is that the WCR helps consolidate the position of Jämtland/Härjedalen as an innovative region.
– To host two major international events in the period of few weeks gives the region, including its industry, government and residents, something to rally around. A World Championship can be a springboard for many things, such as developing international relations. It will also help create job opportunities, provide chances to make long-term investments and give us faith that this is a region where young people want to live and work.
Facts about the World Championships Region 2019
- Jointly owned by Åre 2019 AB and Biathlon Events in Sweden AB.
- Over 100 local, regional and national companies are members of the WCR. Another 50+ are connected to WCR in some capacity.
- The goal of WCR is to ”consolidate Jämtland/Härjedalen’s position as a sustainable, innovative and active future region”
- Åre 2019 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships open on 4 February and close on 17 February 2019