What’s your summary of the first Ladies Ski Jumping World Cup season?
Chika Yoshida: First of all, I have to say that the debut of this new World Cup series was a huge success. Its start occurred at exactly the right moment, after two World Championships and the news from the IOC that the ladies would be included in the 2014 Sochi Games programme. The decision makers at FIS did a careful and well thought-out job!
The season itself went nearly perfectly, from the opener in Lillehammer until the final in Oslo. A lot of jumpers stressed the huge efforts made by the Organizers regarding accommodation, transport and the organization of the sport itself. Their statements show us that we’re on the right track.
One name can be heard above all others…
CY: Of course. Sarah Hendrickson from the strong US team was the dominant athlete in this first World Cup season. She won nine out of 13 competitions, finished three times as runner-up and placed ninth once. Her performance was incredible, unbelievable. Nobody expected one competitor to be that outstanding. However, we cannot ignore the other athletes — such as overall World Cup runner-up Daniela Iraschko from Austria or Sara Takanashi from Japan, who placed third in the overall and who won gold at the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck/Seefeld and was also first at this year’s Junior World Championships in Erzurum, Turkey. Overall, all the athletes did a magnificent job, and I would like to say “Thank You” to all of them!
The sport was great, the sponsors and media were interested in the World Cup, and the Organizers did well – no critical remarks?
CY: It makes a difference if we talk about major issues or if we talk about things that can be improved. It is true that we didn’t have really big problems. It is also true that we can improve in almost every functional area. Some accommodation didn’t have the required World Cup level, and we could have done more to promote the event at some venues. The demands from different television stations were, well, straightforward. The media covered all the events, and we had up to 100 journalists and photographers on site at just one competition – but it can be always more.
The first season is over. What is your wish list for the second edition?
CY: Well, just three points. I wish we keep getting the vital support of FIS leadership and professional staff in the future. I wish we will improve in all areas, inch by inch. And I wish that our athletes continue to show to the world how athletic and aesthetic ladies Ski Jumping can be!
Contributed by Egon Theiner