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2008

VIII Skishow

 

It was not my intention to start the story of the eighth performance of Otepää World Cup with the whimsical weather (again), but as usual, it has played leading role by bringing constantly warm weather, fog and mud and virtually no snowfall in Estonia. And yet, despite such general background Alar Arukuusk, the head organiser of the World Cup, sent a brief message to the public just one week before Otepää performance, saying – one cannot be too optimistic, but we have had more complicated years than this one. What was behind that surprising and positive message under such murky circumstances? Well, this was possible due to the fact that the organisers started to think about the World Cup 2008 already last winter – when they collected snow with snow cannons. Almost 7000 m³ of snow was collected and stored through summer and autumn, in order to establish a basis for the tracks of the World Cup. This method has been commonly used elsewhere, but in Estonia this technology was used for the first time. As you might think, the entire organising team of Tehvandi centre monitored the heap of snow drowsing under the sawdust carpet at the edge of the wood near Horseshoe. Main issue of discussions concerned the amount of melting snow draining into the ground and potential amount of remaining snow. But when winter set in, there was enough snow left to build the main part of the World Cup ski tracks.

 

From there on this “valuable stuff” was used according to common scenario – every cold moment was used for repairing the tracks and for making additional snow. And in every morning everything was ready and functional. So, in the mode of “constant rescue operations” Otepää stood waiting for athletes.

 

By the time the performance started in Otepää, world ski events have already been played out the main winter attraction – Tour de Ski – the competitions held in the beginning of the New Year provided an exciting and enjoyable show. Although people tend to come down with illnesses after such major efforts and due to varying winter weather, the best competitors of the Tour managed to get well by the time of coming to Nuustaku. Thus Lukas Bauer, the unshakeable leader of this season, said that he was able to make the decision about participation only a few days before the World Cup stage. However, all these torments are well-known to the skiers. And if such circumstances are accompanied by lack of snow, the organisational work carried out a la Otepää is considered praiseworthy. Despite the fact that the tracks became more and more wet and watery by each round, no big deal was made of it.

 

As for women’s 10 km distance, Virpi Kuitunen tried to compensate for unexpected failure to win the jackpot at Tour de Ski. She got everything right and shared the best result with Aino Kaisa Saarinen, showing that the Finnish women seem to be successful during the rest of the season. The cheers of the audience in the humid and foggy woods of Tehvandi became even louder during men’s classical 15 km. And it was for a good reason! Lukas Bauer, who started slow and steady, preceded Jaak Mae only by a few seconds. Besides that the home audiences became ecstatic due to the powerful appearance of Andrus Veerpalu, who had taken a long break because of an injury. Bauer still came first, but the second place by Jaak Mae and fourth place by Andrus Veerpalu accounted for another bright world-level moment among the memories of the audience in Otepää.

 

After another foggy and humid night it was time for the sprinters. What a struggle! Main question was – whether to go with wax or no wax?In general terms, this time the state of tracks in Otepää required the winner to have extremely powerful nature. Petra Majdic, the Slovenian skier, seems as if she was made for such a tough track, and she did not waste her chance of winning. Men’s preliminary rounds made it clear that this time the shiny medals are going to be shared by Norwegians. Although mettlesome Emil Jönnson and our local fellow Peeter Kümmel stood out, they ran out of steam before three competitors.

 

 By the time the competition was over, the tracks had turned into streams and the stadium looked more and more like a small lake… However, the snows of yesteryear still pulled through!  Many thanks to the snow for holding up, and many thanks to those who made it happen, because otherwise we would have been in major trouble and already sparse ski calendar would have become even sparser.

 

Author: Kaarel Zilmer

Photo: NordicFocus

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