Soelden is almost ready for the 2007/08 Audi FIS World Cup Opening
A month prior the opening races of the 2008 Audi FIS World Cup, the Rettenbacher glacier above Soelden is almost ready for the first major event of the 22nd Alpine World Cup season.
“We have already twice as much snow now on the glacier than last year at the same time,” said Ernst Lorenzi, Chief of Press of the “Soelden World Cup Opening” which should take place for the 10th time since 1993 from October 26th – 28th - 2007.
“I visited the site earlier this week and I can tell you that there is over a meter snow now at the start of the race course situated at 3,050 meters, half a meter at the end of the steep pitch and 30 cm at the arrival at 2,690 meters,” Lorenzi added with a grin. “We could almost hold the races this weekend. In fact we have been working hard on the slope since the first main snowfalls on September 7th. The course is hard packed and really nice to ski.”
Lorenzi also explained that the Soelden Arena lift company running the mountain invested much money last spring into a new efficient snow making system used on a regular base during the year to produce as much snow as possible to prevent the glacier suffering too much from the warm temperatures.
“It has been very warm again this summer up here, but as you know, we close the ski runs on the glacier from May till early September,” Lorenzi added. “It’s better for the glaciers which suffers a lot from the heat and too intense use. When it’s cold enough we produce snow to cover and protect it as much as possible. We built a huge water-reservoir of 150,000 m3 at a lower elevation to feed the 30 guns of that impressive snow-system.”
“It’s normally cold enough during the nights from now on to produce more snow and prepare the mountain for the first events. Our expert, Mr. Eberhard Schultes, aims to produce around 900 m3 by very cold nights. We organize a snowboard competition a week prior the alpine events so we have to start the preparations early enough to make everything perfect.”
Ernst Lorenzi as Jakob Falkner, who owns the lift company at Soelden, and the entire population of the valley strongly hope that the weather will remain “normal” this year. “We keep our fingers crossed, we hope that it will not rain as last year and that the temperatures remain cool enough,” Lorenzi said.
“The cancellation of last year’s competitions was quite dramatic for all of us. Thousands of beds remained empty that weekend which is normally one of the busiest of the season. Yet we were happy to see that the people of the area strongly supported us, nobody charged any cancellation fees to the visitors who didn’t come. It was also important to feel that the entire ski racing community was very unhappy after that cancellation.”
“The World Cup Opening at Soelden did become a major event not only for the skiers but also the media and the ski industry which organizes so many meetings and presentations in the resort during the World Cup week. The Forum Alpinum on Friday morning brings together hundreds of reporters and officials from the national and international federations. It’s really big now.”
Some national teams already travelled to Soelden to train and finalize their preparation for the coming winter. “We are busy since mid September, even Hermann Maier came by to test his new Head skis and train,” explained Lorenzi. “We expect again many spectators at the races next month – more than twenty five thousand including the two thousand members of the official fan club which gather here and compete in our now traditional “Fan Club Show”. In the past years, as much as twenty fan clubs attended the event and the winner received 1,500.- € from us after showing their skills. It helps to create a special atmosphere around here!”
The entry fee for both days of racing is 19.- € per person - but the buyer of a normal ski-lift ticket can also watch the races for free.
Interestingly enough, Soelden had a nice season last winter in the months following the disastrous cancellation of October. “We had much more snow than most other areas in the Alps, so we got more visitors that expected. It was one of our very best seasons at all. But a “good” season is also fine for us because we want other resorts making good business too. It’s important that ski areas situated near big cities have enough snow to attract the local skiers and create a positive momentum. Nobody is really in a good mood for skiing when there is only snow on the glaciers.”