One of the most interesting stages of next FIS Tour de Ski will be the one in Toblach/Dobbiaco ITA.
During three days, six races will be carried out in this relatively small village in Pustertal. In my article I will use the German name Toblach (there is also Italian version Dobbiaco).
As Toblach has become a frequent organizer in the FIS Tour de Ski it may be interesting for you to know how Toblach organized their first World Cup Competition. We have to go back to season 1987/88 and (as always) the winter was warm in Middle Europe. And perhaps some of you remember that the relay race Dec 19 in Davos was cancelled due to the fact that the Swiss TV did not want to cover the competition, as the snow situation was very poor. As you had seen before, the men and the ladies competed sometimes at different resorts the same weekend.
The weekend Jan 15-16 was scheduled for Klingenthal DDR for women and Strbske Pleso TCH for men.
It was still warm and we had to make changes of the program in Ski jumping as well as in Nordic Combined. The snow situation in Klingenthal did not allow any World Cup competition taking place and no substitute resort could be found in DDR. As always FISI (the Italian Ski Federation), was interested to take it over. The secretary general of FISI Angelo Vergani informed me that Cogne or Toblach were candidates to host the competition and he recommended Toblach. I remembered that I had met a person from Toblach, Herbert Santer, at the men’s Mass-start race in Kastelruth three weeks earlier. He asked me what he should do so that Toblach could become the organizer of a World Cup race in the future. Who could know at that time that the future was within three weeks?
I called Franco Nones, the representative of Italy and asked him to check the possibilities.
The answer was positive and after having involved our decision makers Gian Franco Kasper FIS General Secretary, Odd Martinsen Cross-Country Committee and Stig Roland Bergqvist World Cup Committee, we decided that Toblach would organize its first World Cup event.
This was the paper work, now to reality - how to organize a World Cup race in Toblach?
The OC of Toblach consisted of persons with experiences from the popular cross-country race Cortina-Toblach and from a number of Alpen Cup competitions. You must also be aware of the reality at that time. The weekend January 15-16 was the last competition before the opening of the Olympic Winter Games in Calgary/Canmore 1988, which started February 14. That meant that one month was reserved for preparations before the games.
The key persons were Herbert Santer as Chief OC, Elvira Bachmann as competition secretary and Karl Walder as Chief of track. The TD was Madeleine Vion FRA. With excitement we waited for the teams but which nations would come? SOV and FIN did not come and NOR came with a B-team.
The preparations were underway and I remember that we had troubles with how to improve an uphill.
However at the end we had fantastic competitions with many engaged spectators and a new organizer was born. At last I want to mention one thing that happened during the team captains meeting that never will happen again. The technical delegate suddenly asked is it okay that we will start at 09.30? One captain said that is more convenient to start at 10.00. And that was confirmed by Madeleine Vion the Technical delegate without any control. Such things could occur as late as 1988.
Simone Greiner Petter DDR won before the Swedes Anna Lena Fritzon and Marie Helen Westin. In the relay SWE, DDR and NOR were the three best.
For me personally I got a close friendship through the years with the Family Santer with the parents Herbert and Live and the three daughters Natalie, Saskia and Stephanie.
Thank you Toblach and good luck for the future.
Yours Bengt in the Corner.