Biathletes from 33 countries will compete over 7 days for medals in the European Championships that start in the Vysočina Arena on Wednesday 29. January. 440 athletes have registered for the event, out of which 250 are men and junior men and 190 women or junior women. It is important for Nové Město, same as for any other organizer of the world’s most prestigious events, to stage also smaller scale events such as the IBU Cups, European Championships or Junior World Championships.
"Should we be awarded the right to stage World Cups or World Championships in future, it is crucial for us to be inside the group of organizers regularly used by the IBU. The fact that the Olympic Games in Sochi start right after our event - on 7. February - make the task even more challenging for us this year,” concluded Hamza.
The upcoming European Championships will be a test for younger biathletes. Despite the fact that the very best will not be present in Nové Město this year, there are still plenty good racers from Norway, France, Russia, Germany or other established biathlon nations registered for the events. "We certainly do not underestimate the preparations for the events. I believe we will be able to welcome quite a few spectators in the arena too, as we offer the entry for free on all competition days," says Hamza.
The period with cold temperatures that started in the last week helped to improve the snow conditions, which had been badly affected by the extremely warm weather of the first half in January. "We simply haven’t had any chance to produce enough snow for the long tracks. We tried to save as much of the snow as we could. We had rain for three days in a row at the beginning of the last week,” describes technical director for the events Vlastimil Jakeš the problems the organizers faced while preparing courses for the Championships.
"We started the snow guns immediately when the temperatures dropped again. We kept transporting snow onto the courses till Monday noon. We tried to make the tracks as wide as possible, since the events will be held over shortened courses. The 4km loop for men’s Individual event had to be shortened down to 2km, which will inevitably result in much higher frequency of athletes on the course. To make the events fair, we keep the minimum width of the tracks between six to eight meters,” explained Jakeš.
Another change compared to the World Championships is the location of the warm-up loop and test tracks, which have been relocated to the team parking area, where there is a snow depot. "We prefer not to waste our snow reserves while transporting snow onto the tracks. We explained the situation to all participants and everyone understands. All organizers faced similar snow-related challenges this winter. Unfortunately, conditions like this are nothing strange at present."