My congratulations go to Justyna Kowalczyk , Dario Cologna and all the athletes for excellent performances throughout the eight tough stages in the fifth edition of the Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski performance by Craft Sportswear.
I met only smiling faces on top of Alpe Cermis this time. Looking back five years, there is a significant difference to discover. Athletes are just as tired as before but there are fewer comments and complaints. It is more of everything: Spectators, media, sponsors, VIPs and not to forget, TV viewers. The final hill and the Tour have in five years become the main Cross-Country event of the season along with our Championships. For the first time, I heard almost no comments on bonus seconds and choice of competition program. The discussion in the last years has been good and necessary, and today most people agree that those on top of Alpe Cermis really are our best Cross-Country skiers. Comments from everyone involved will again be studied carefully to optimize every part of the Tour for the future.
At the core of the excitement and fascination with the sport performances is the unpredictability. This year we could see new tactics: Higher speed in the mass starts and to most people’s amazement, Dario Cologna was not overtaken but skied alone the whole way from Cortina to Toblach.
My thanks belong to all the organizers and their volunteers for their tremendous work and commitment. I have had the pleasure to watch the last four events “backstage”. As an athlete I had no idea about how many people are involved and how many details must fit together to create such a successful event. Sometimes I wish that more people could get the opportunity to see this.
The key factor behind the success of the Tour is cooperation between the organizers and National Ski Associations. Details have carefully been improved and developed year by year after important input and evaluation from all stakeholders. I hope the Tour can be an example for future common projects across borders.