Crans-Montana defends itself against St-Moritz

24.06.2017 - Crans-Montana is not going to let the organisation of the Ski  World Championships go. At the Swiss-Ski assembly of delegates in Losone on Saturday, the Valaisans confirmed their desire to stand as candidates for the 2025 and 2027 events, and then 2029, in the event that they are not successful.

If Crans-Montana had to reiterate its ambitions at Losone, it is because St-Moritz has appeared on the horizon wanting to take its place, in a request that was accepted by Swiss-Ski representatives on Saturday. The Grisons resort, which has just organised the Worlds in February, says it is ready to replace Crans-Montana, arguing that the Haut-Plateau was likely to be hosting two major events in a short period of time if the 2026 Olympic Games were also awarded to Sion. 

 For the organisers in Valais on the other hand, obtaining the Games would not harm their candidacy for the Alpine Ski Worlds. "On the contrary, it would enable us to create synergies between the two projects", says Marius Robyr, president of the Crans-MontanaSki World Cup organisation committee, at the end of the assembly of delegates. "Whatever the fate of the Sion project for the Games, we are going to organise the World Championships. I was very firm about this", he added.

Also present in Losone was Nicolas Féraud, president of the commune of Crans-Montana and representative of the ACCM, and he reminded Swiss-Ski delegates that in their 2014 assembly, they had designated the Valais resort representatives of Switzerland at the future Worlds in Switzerland. And that since that time, Crans-Montana had thrown itself fully into this challenge, with the support of the canton of Valais, the Haut-Plateau communes, the skilifts CMA and the touristic entities. 

Crans-Montana, which has not hosted the Worlds since 1987, has to forward its candidature bid to the International Ski Federation (FIS) by 1st May 2019, whereas the host for the 2025 event would be announced during summer 2020. As for the town selected for the 2026 Winter Olympics, this would be revealed one year earlier, at the IOC session planned for the summer (or autumn) of 2019.  

30 YEARS AGO, A WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP OF SUPERLATIVES

The 29th edition of the FIS World Championships in 1987 was the most glorious one ever for Swiss Alpine Skiing. In front of their audience in Crans-Montana, Erika Hess, Vreni Schneider, Maria Walliser, Peter Müller and Pirmin Zurbriggen landed 14 podium places, taking eight gold medals, four silver and two bronze.

«The 1987 World Championships proved that we were on the right track in organising a competition like this. We formed an efficient association and organised effective management, as well as being lucky with the weather. We’re very happy with the result. » These were the words of the secretary general Guy Praplan, 47 years old at the time, at the end of the 1987 FIS World Championships.

Thirty years have passed. But Guy Praplan, a lawyer by profession, hasn’t changed his tune, and is perhaps even more enthusiastic. « When I hear the name Crans-Montana, and this happens to me when I’m in the train heading to the resort, I immediately see the World Championship logo again. The most intense emotion I experienced during the Worlds, one which overwhelmed me all of a sudden, was when I saw the crowd hurrying to the opening ceremony. We had at last achieved our first objective, and it was even more powerful to accomplish it in such a great atmosphere.» However it wasn’t just the opening which was a success, but the whole event. « A dream come true. The Worlds ran just as we had wanted them to, on a sporting level as well as with the festivities, and it all took place in wonderful sunshine », remembers the 1987 edition project manager.

Strong opposition from environmentalists

The secretary general at the time remembers however that organising the Worlds was far from easy. Preparing the pistes was in itself an enormous challenge. Many trees had to be cut down, and although five hectares of forest were going to be replanted elsewhere, this led to opposition.The WWF, Greenpeace and other nature protection associations violently opposed the Worlds’ organisers. Guy Praplan had to go to the Federal Court to resolve the dispute. « Half of my time was taken up by this fight against different ecology groups », he remembers. It was only on 19 March 1986, ten months prior to the start of the championships, that Guy Praplan won the case and was finally able to breathe freely. « Even today, I daren’t imagine what would have happened if we hadn’t won in the Federal Court », he adds.

Organising the Worlds between 27 January and 8 February 1987 cost around 17 million francs, or almost double that of the previous World Championships in Switzerland, in St-Moritz in 1974. However this also meant that 100 million francs would be invested into the different infrastructure in the Valais Haut-Plateau communes of Icogne, Chermignon, Montana, Randogne and Mollens. With this money, tourist installations in particular were overhauled. Hotels and cable cars were replaced or modernised, and Le Régent Congress Centre was built. Some 1,700 people were brought in to realise the various projects, not to mention the huge logistical effort required to welcome 600 athletes, 400 journalists and 270 photographers for the Worlds. The Organisation Committee and its Executive Committee – made up of Jean-Pierre Clivaz (president, 1994), Hubert Bonvin (1st vice-president), Bouby Rombaldi (2nd vice-president, 2016),  Edouard Rey ( 2001), Vital Renggli ( 2006), Gérard Bonvin and the secretary general Guy Praplan – were highly praised for the organisation and management of these Worlds. And in the end, Crans-Montana 1987 came out better than its predecessors in Bormio and Schladming/Haus. Amongst the negative points, the problems linked to traffic were a source of irritation until the end of the event. The organisers also saw a few criticisms, notably concerning the increase in prices in the resort during the competition.

Objective FIS World Championships 2025

After the success of 1987, a new generation rallied in 2008, aiming to host the FIS World Championships planned for 2025. The push came from Marius Robyr, who is surrounded by strong characters ready to succeed in this challenge. The first stage has been successfully completed: since 2016, Crans-Montana has become an annual stage on the FIS World Cup calendar, establishing itself among the classics on the ladie’s circuit. Guy Praplan supports the efforts that are being made, whilst advising the team in place to demonstrate modesty and patience. « You must stay humble, learn to avoid difficulties and invest yourself fully. It’s rare to win on a first attempt, so that demands qualities such as perseverence », he warns.

FIs World Championships in Switzerland and for the Swiss

In 1987, Crans-Montana already had high quality pistes, which were technically very demanding. These pistes, the « Nationale » and« Mont Lachaux », both share the same finish area, and have also been redesigned thanks to the efforts of the Haut-Plateau councils, the ski lift company and the Casino foundation, in order to host the world skiing elite once again. It is on these pistes, and under a sun that shines almost constantly, that the Swiss delegation enjoyed their success at the 1987 Worlds. Led by Maria Walliser and Pirmin Zurbriggen, then in the lead in the general World Cup ranking, local skiers won eight out of the ten races on the programme on the Haut-Plateau. This outrageous domination did however bring some inconvenience, that is, to reduce the interest of foreign countries in these Worlds. For Guy Praplan however, it is wrong to think that Swiss supremacy had been a problem. « The Swiss dominating do not make for negative publicity. We are in Switzerland,  and most of our guests are Swiss. Thanks to the triumph of the Helvetic ski racers, Crans-Montana will always have a place apart in the history of the Worlds.»

Eight gold medals

It’s true that noone has forgotten this record edition. No team has dominated the event at home to the degree of the Swiss in 1987, with 14 medals of the 30 up for grabs. Erika Hess, Maria Walliser and Pirmin Zurbriggen each managed two world titles, whereas Peter Müller and Vreni Schneider also earned a gold medal.

It was  Erika Hess who launched the Helvetic tidal wave, winning the Combined on 30 January, ahead of the Austrian Sylvia Eder and the American Tamara McKinney. 25 years old at the time, Erika Hess won this event, finishing 3rd in the Downhill – behind Michela Figini and Eder -, although she was already 3rd  the day before in slalom – behind McKinney and Vreni Schneider. Eight days after her intial victory, Erika Hess would find herself on top of the podium  again, in the Slalom this time. After a fabulous heat, she managed to transform a run of 1’’33 into an advance of 25 hundredths over Roswitha Steiner.

Before Erika Hess ended the Worlds in style, it was Maria Walliser who had hung on to the top place in the ladies’ heats. At just 23 years old, the skier from Toggenburg managed to win three medals in five days. On 1st February, she won the Downhill, ahead of her teammate Michela Figini and the German Regine Mösenlechner. Two days later, she doubled her winnings in the Super-G , again ahead of Figini and the Yugoslav Mateja Svet. However she missed the hat trick on 5 February in the Giant due to a big mistake in an early heat, so she had to be satisfied with a bronze medal.

As for the men, Pirmin Zurbriggen was a figure who stood out during these Worlds. He may have been beaten in the Downhill by his teammate Peter Müller, and in the Combined by Luxembourg’s Marc Girardelli, but the Valaisan wouldn’t let anyone outdo him in the Super-G, where he triumphed on 2 February, ahead of Girardelli and Markus Wasmeier. Two days later, the day of his 24th birthday, he won the Giant ahead of Girardelli and Alberto Tomba.

The climax of these FIS World Championships remains however the 31 January, the date of the Men’s Downhill. On that day, in front of 25,000 euphoric spectators, the men trained by Karl Frehsner managed to take the six first places.  It was Peter Müller who took the main prize, in front of Pirmin Zurbriggen (2nd), Karl Alpiger (3rd), Franz Heinzer (4th) and Daniel Mahrer (6th).

The eighth and last gold medal for the Swiss came from Vreni Schneider. Still very young at the time, (22 ), the Glarus skier was crowned for the Giant, ahead of Mateja Svet and Maria Walliser, who had already been very close to a first medal in the Combined (4th place).

Thirteen years after the turmoil on home turf in St-Moritz, where only Lise-Marie Morerod managed a bronze medal on the last day, the Swiss left nothing but crumbs for their rivals in Crans-Montana. Only two titles escaped them, the Combined, won by Marc Girardelli, and the Slalom won by the German Frank Wörndl. Despite this bounty, these Worlds left a few Swiss skiers with regrets, for example, those who remained in the shadow of their team mates. This was for example the case for

Martin Hangl, Brigitte Oertli, Michela Figini (despite two silver medals), Corinne Schmidhauser and Franz Heinzer. However the most unhappy Swiss in 1987 had to be Joël Gaspoz. The Valaisan had almost won the race in the Giant before he fell a few gates from the finish line, losing the title to Pirmin Zurbriggen. - Original text in German by Beat Caspar. Translation into English by Sarah Dunn

DEPREZphoto SA, Crans-Montana

 

30 ans CM cm

Crans-Montana/Valais: heading towards the FIS Alpine Skiing World Championships with Swiss-Ski

 

26.02.2017 - After announcing Crans-Montana/Valais would be a candidate for the FIS 2025 Alpine Skiing World Championships at the 1987 World Championship 30 year jubilee evening, the public announcement  took place on Sunday afternoon, at the arrival stadium of the World Cup races in Crans-Montana. The show was full of atmosphere, with paragliders and lots of children from local ski clubs, and in the middle of them all, Urs Lehmann, Swiss-Ski President, and Marius Robyr, president of the Organising Committee for the World Cup races in Crans-Montana. With kind words, the two heads of sport together declared the launch of the « 2025 World Ski Championships Challenge » and their intent to succed, before a cloud of balloons dotted the blue skies with their many different colours. The letter of intent has to be delivered to the FIS before 1st May 2019. The FIS Council will reveal the name of the selected resort at an FIS conference in 2020.

DEPREZphoto SA, Crans-Montana/Agence Zoom

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Crans-Montana/Valais hopes to host the FIS Ski World Championships 2025

25.02.2017 - Eight years after the St-Moritz World Championships, Switzerland could once again host the FSI Ski World Championships. Crans-Montana/Valais is the Swiss candidate for the 2025 Worlds, with the firm support of Swiss-Ski.

38 years after the most prolific World Championships in the history of Swiss skiing, Crans-Montana hopes it will be able to welcome the best skiers in the world on the Nationale and Mont Lachaux pistes. Swiss-Ski president Urs Lehmann and Marius Robyr president of the O.C. for World Cup Races have officially launched Crans-Montana/Valais as candidate.

The letter of intent has to be delivered to the FIS before 1st May 2019. Crans-Montana/Valais is supported by the canton, the local councils and Swiss-Ski. Urs Lehmann is also part of the candidature committee which aims to involve the Federation in the project.

Once Crans-Montana’s candidature is officially registered with the FIS, Crans-Montana/Valais will be able to prepare its dossier. The name of the town that will host the 2025 Worlds will be revealed in 2020 at an FIS congress.

Crans-Montana/Valais is expecting competition from France (Courchevel-Méribel) or Austria (Saalbach-Hinterglemm). In the event that the Worlds event is awarded to the resort, the arrival stadium will be completely redesigned with a project that includes a permanent arena where other events can also be held.

DEPREZphoto SA, Crans-Montana

MR & Cie
Ready for the Crans-Montana/Valais candidacy bid for the FIS 2025 World Championships, from left: Martial Kamerzin, Association des Communes de Crans-Montana President/Urs Lehmann, Swiss-Ski President/Marius Robyr, Crans-Montana World Cup races Organising Committee President and Nicolas Féraud,  Crans-Montana Commune President.

 

Support from Urs Lehmann and Swiss-Ski for Crans-Montana/Valais ‘s candidature for the World Championships

You talked about how rare it is to have the Worlds at home. The next ones should be taking place in Crans-Montana, as decided by Swiss-Ski three years ago. Why this changeover ?

"Crans-Montana has built up a good reputation with the World Cup over the past years. It’s now time to profile Crans-Montana as a candidate for the Worlds (ed: 2025), and to establish a relationship between the resort and the World Cup on a long-term basis. As a national federation, we also have a mission to ensure there’s a geographical balance. Eastern Switzerland has been well served for several years, so it’s now time to do the same for Western Switzerland. "

Urs interview

 

Crans-Montana/Valais hopes to welcome the FIS Ski Worldchampionships 2025

25.02.2017 - Eight years after the St-Moritz World Championships, Switzerland could once again host the Alpine Ski Worlds. Crans-Montana/Valais is the Swiss candidate for the 2025 Worlds, with the firm support of Swiss-Ski.

38 years after the most prolific World Championships in the history of Swiss skiing, Crans-Montana hopes it will be able to welcome the best skiers in the world on the Nationale and Mont Lachaux pistes. Swiss-Ski president Urs Lehmann and the president of the Organising Committee for World Cup Races have officially launched Valais as a candidate.

The letter of intent has to be delivered to the FIS before 1st May 2019. -Montana/Valais is supported by the canton, the local councils and Swiss-Ski. Urs Lehmann is also part of a candidature committee which aims to involve the Federation in the project.

Once Crans-Montana’s candidature is officially registered with the FIS, Crans-Montana/Valais will be able to prepare its dossier. The name of the town that will host the 2025 Worlds will be revealed in 2020 at an FIS conference.

Crans-Montana/Valais is expecting competition from France (Méribel/Courchevel) and Austria (Saalbach?). In the event that the Worlds event is awarded to the resort, the arrival stadium will be completely redesigned with a project that includes a permanent arena where other events can also be held.

Good timing for the Crans-Montana/Valais bid for the FIS World Ski Championships

Perhaps you have already been surprised to see that on June 28th 2014, the AD from Swiss-Ski voiced his support for Crans-Montana/Valais for its bid for the organisation of the FIS World Ski Championships (WC). Nevertheless, two and one-half years remain before the World Ski Championships in St. Moritz take place, which is a first step. It is therefore too early to be in the starting blocks: several years will go by until Valais will eventually see its attribution of WC.  Despite this, the timing is carefully calculated.

No one was against it. The Assembly of delegates had a united front to support the World Championship project for Crans-Montana/Valais, despite the fact that only one bid can be made at least two years after the last World Championships organised in the country.  It is therefore a long-term project, which cannot be submitted to the International Ski Federation FIS before 2019. However, this early decision of the Swiss-Ski delegates in favour of Crans-Montana/Valais represents a safeguard for planning.

In Valais, we know now that ambitions go beyond the organisation of a European Cup of a World Cup. The necessary investments such as the implementation of lighting for the slalom run (final part of the Mont Lachaux slope) or the extension of infrastructure of the finish area can be allocated in a totally different context. Crans-Montana currently has enough time to create a competent application committee and to bring together necessary funds for the creation of a thorough and promising application.

Although the new Swiss bid will be submitted at the FIS two years after the St. Moritz World Championships, the decision concerning Crans-Montana/Valais will take place, at the earliest, one year later, in 2020.  Even if the Valaisans are selected for their first try, a hypothesis one should preferably not count on; it concerns the 2025 World Championships. At the second try, it would concern the 2027 World Championships. Many years will therefore go by before the Haut-Plateau hosts World Championships, if this takes place.  Effectively, there is no guarantee that the International Ski Federation will choose Crans-Montana.

In Valais, people nevertheless are sure of one thing: if the organisation of FIS World Ski Championships is attributed to Switzerland again, be it in eight, ten, or twelve years after those in St. Moritz, they will take place in Crans-Montana. To know this is one thing. Having this certainty in mind, one can plan, invest and continue to show talent in organising ski events. Let’s hope that now we will see the project that has attracted the surprisingly early support of the Assembly of Delegates come to life: the World Championships in Crans-Montana/Valais, for the second time after the unforgettable 1987 World Championships during which Swiss athletes won 14 medals!