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IX Skishow


According to an age-old Estonian proverb, you must measure nine times before you cut! This is the kind of precision and certainty that is applied in the preparation for every World Cup Event and Ski Show in Otepää. Otepää has been proud to be a perennial venue on the FIS World Cup tour for nine years and every year we learn something new. We have listened to, for example, what the contestants have had to say, which has been particularly valuable as their feedback is generally objective and constructive. We have listened to all the feedback we have been given and systematically acted on making the Otepää experience better and more memorable every year.


This time everything went, once again, miraculously well. Worries were forgotten, as the weather and the snow offered the skiers the skiing conditions that were among the best in the history of Otepää. Thanks to this the event, which plays an important role in the preparations for World Championships in Liberec, rolled smoothly, while at the same time maintained its passionate and competitive nature.


There were plenty of interesting moments that kept the local and, once again, numerous and enthusiastic audience cheerful. The national teams also enjoyed the event, and so did all the individual participants, whose strength and endurance were tested and compared against others in the competition. Odd-Bjørn Hjelmeset, who took part in the Otepää World Cup Event for the ninth time, was naturally quite aware of the conditions in Otepää and, as he said, he was now completely healthy and ready to take part in the big competition again. Lucáš Bauer, who finished only at 11th in Tour de Ski, seemed to carry a sort of an emotional burden and Otepää was to add either extra weight or relief to this burden. Another question on everyone’s lips was, of course, how would Dario Cologna, the comet of the season, perform? What about Justyna Kowalczyk, who appeared to be in a good shape? Would she be able to challenge the Finns and, of course, Petra Majdič?


Already on the first day the classic style distance gave clear hints of the possible outcome of the World Championships in Liberec. Lukáš Bauer moved in his characteristically powerful style and afterwards he only had a few weeks to get in top shape in order to triumph at the home tracks. After a long break we also saw Andrus Veerpalu who was recovering from health problems, and considering his condition he performed quite well. However, there was no doubt that the exhaustion from Tour de Ski still burdeoned some contestants (including Jaak Mae and Aivar Rehemaa who performed on their home tracks). After completing the sharp Tehvandi Climb many skiers felt as if the difficult mountainous conditions of Central Europe had been brought to Estonia. Yet, according to Vincent Vittoz, who participated in Otepää World Cup Event for the ninth time and was very satisfied with his third place, the atmosphere was fantastic, the tracks were good and the audience was fabulous. Justyna Kowalczyk did not show any signs of exhaustion from the Vancouver competition some time ago. On the contrary, her excellent shape seemed to improve along the way and her lead was enormous.


In the sprint competition, equally competent skiers dropped out one by one in each consecutive round, as is usually the case. Among women Petra Majdič demonstrated the best strength. Whenever a change of pace was required, or heavy work needed to be done, Petra was up for it. It was quite clear that she would show equally confident and well-planned skiing tactics in Liberec as well.


The Norwegian red skiing uniform became more and more dominant by each round at the men’s sprint competition. This continued until five Norwegian skiers took no less than five of the first places in the finals. Is it possible to challenge their supremacy this time? Will Ola Vigen Hattestad still be among the group of top sprinters who receive a golden medal at the World Championships? This time in Otepää the answers were rather obvious.


In conclusion it could be said that the small skiing country of Estonia has some worries these days. However, it is safe to say that during this competition skier Kristina Šmigun was not touched by these worries, as she spent the time with her small daughter instead of skiing. The other Estonian skiing hero, Andrus Veerpalu, was still recovering from the serious problems (his knee injury) he had been facing, and therefore couldn’t be expected to be at the top. For the other Estonian skiers, however, Otepää gave a reason to worry: their poor performance. After the competition, the team of organizers sent out a jubilee message: in January 2010 we will meet at the Otepää World Cup Event for the tenth time! Welcome to Nuustaku!


Author: Kaarel Zilmer


Photo: NordicFocus

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