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Matterhorn Cervino Speed Opening: success through innovation

 

There are just over 100 days to go until the first cross-border race in the history of the Alpine Ski World Cup: the Matterhorn Cervino Speed Opening. On 29/30 October and 5/6 November 2022, downhill athletes will compete for the first time at the season opener in Zermatt/Cervinia. The organisers are keen to extend the innovative spirit of this bi-national event across the race concept.

 

The wait will soon be over – from 6 pm on 30 August 2022, tickets will be available for the different categories of the Matterhorn Cervino Speed Opening at www.speedopening.com/en/. Spectator capacity is limited to 6,000 places per race due to the cable car capacity and the location of the finish area. Tickets will be available exclusively online in advance on a first come, first served basis. Visitors in the finish area will enjoy a further new dimension: almost two thirds of the downhill course – including the border crossing – will be visible from the finish area. The first part of the race, from the start between the top stations of the two Plateau Rosa ski lifts to the Italian border, can be followed from the ski slope. A public viewing zone is also planned on Testa Grigia. On the Italian side, the races can be followed from the finish area.

 

“Gran Becca” takes shape

A winter with little snow and the high temperatures of the last few months have left their mark on the Theodul Glacier. The Zermatt summer ski area is open and the ski teams are currently experiencing excellent training conditions. On the Swiss side, half of the “Gran Becca” course is already prepared for racing and can be used for training purposes. Work on the glacier, both the traverse to the border and the Italian section, will continue steadily over the next few weeks. Snow depots with mainly natural snow have been created for the lower, non-glacier part of the course. In addition, this section can be covered with technical snow in a maximum of 72 hours in sub-zero temperatures. “We need three to four cold nights and natural snowfall on the glacier by mid-October,” says LOC President Franz Julen, looking ahead. “These weather scenarios are quite realistic in autumn at altitudes above 3,000 metres. We are confident that the first “Matterhorn Cervino Speed Opening” can be held as planned, knowing that nature and the weather always have the last word in outdoor sports."

The long-anticipated names of the key points of the “Gran Becca” course have also been announced. These are intended to reflect the nature and surroundings of the course. The three jumps are called “Matterhorn”, “Furggen” and “Cime Bianche”. The other key sections are the “Sérac Traverse” towards the national borders, the “Muro Ventina”, the “Spalla di Rollin” and the “Plateau Rosa Schuss”.
Another innovation awaits the athletes at the start of the Matterhorn Cervino Speed Opening: a starting hut with a photovoltaic system is being built for the first time in the history of the Alpine Ski World Cup. It comprises a lightweight pneumatic shell, which is produced without petroleum The starting hut can be set up and dismantled within a few hours and is only used temporarily.

 

Overcoming logistical challenges

Unlike most races in the World Cup calendar, the race course and especially the finish area are located more than 1,000 metres above sea level above the villages of Zermatt and Cervinia – which requires a logistical masterstroke by the organisers. In fairness to both host destinations, it was decided that the men's teams would stay overnight in Zermatt and the women's teams in Cervinia. The bib draw and prize-giving will take place on Friday and Saturday evenings, with the first weekend in Zermatt and the second weekend in Cervinia with live transmission to Cervinia on the first weekend and to Zermatt on the second.

 

Experts at work

The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG is responsible for the TV production of the World Cup spectacle on the Matterhorn under the leadership of Beat Zumstein (producer) and Beni Giger (director). All Alpine skiing competitions at the Olympic Games since Turin 2006 have been successfully produced by this duo. The international sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media will take care of the international distribution of the TV signal and thus ensure the greatest possible media coverage.

 

Fully on course

The organising committee of the Matterhorn Cervino Speed Opening remains optimistic despite the tight schedule: “We are on track with the preparatory work. The responsibilities and tasks are distributed on several shoulders; the cooperation among the stakeholders, especially with the two national ski associations Swiss-Ski and FISI, is working very well; everyone involved is motivated and fully focused on the project," says LOC President Franz Julen. Four successful FIS inspections have already taken place. Julen reports that the FIS is very satisfied with the preparation progress: “Suggestions made for improvements are now being implemented accordingly.”

 

Facts and figures about the Matterhorn Cervino Speed Opening

Dates: 29/30.10.2022 and 5/6.11.2022
Piste: Gran Becca
Start: Plateau Rosa skilift top station (3,720 metres above sea level), Zermatt, Switzerland
Finish: Laghi Cime Bianche (2,835 metres above sea level), Cervinia, Italy
Difference in altitude: 885 metres
Length: approx. 3,700 metres
Maximum gradient: 60%
Maximum potential speed: 135 km/h
Jumps “Matterhorn”, “Furggen” and “Cime Bianche”
Other key sections: “Sérac Traverse”, “Muro Ventina”, “Spalla di Rollin” and “Plateau Rosa Schuss”
Further information: www.speedopening.com/en/

 

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