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Kontiolahti will also host the opening of the World Cup in 2021-22

The opening of the World Cup will be renewed - the exact competition program will be announced in the autumn.

At its meeting in Frankfurt, the International Biathlon Union IBU decided to renew the program of the Biathlon World Cup opening event from the 2020-21 season. At the same time, the association made the decision that Kontiolahti will organize the opening event of the World Cup for the 2021-22 season as well. The decision is important and brings continuity to Kontiolahti's World Cup hosting, says Tomi-Pekka Riihivuori, Executive Director of Kontiolahti Sportsmen's Association.

"During the spring, we have had preliminary discussions about our possibilities, and the decision reached now is expected and hoped for."

The World Cup consists of nine competitions, as well as the Olympic Games or World Championships that are scheduled for the season. The timing of the season opening at the end of November is not easy for the event organizers, as the availability of snow is uncertain in many race locations.

"The decision to grant the opening of the Cup to Kontiolahti is an indication of the confidence that the most important thing for the event, i.e. the snow conditions, will be secured. The IBU's goal is to renew the opening events of the season, and Kontiolahti has been deemed, based on the experiences of the past years, to be a competent organizer for this need," says Riihivuori.

From Kontiolahti to Östersund

Since 2012, the opening of the World Cup has been organized as a ten-day event in one location. Both teams, athletes and organizers have found the model to be heavy.

With the change launched now, the World Cup will move from the three-day event in Kontiolahti to Östersund in Sweden, where the competitions will continue immediately after the opening competitions in Kontiolahti. The exact competition programs for Kontiolahti and Östersund will be published next fall.

"With a tight rhythm between Kontiolahti and Östersund, we are looking for a sharp start to the season. The new arrangement provides better implementation opportunities for all parties. The opening of the World Cup in any sport attracts a lot of attention. We can also prepare for that in Kontiolahti," says Riihivuori.

The decision is also praised by the North Karelia County Association.

"The competition for organizing the World Cup competitions is tough. There are many organizing candidates, but only a dozen race weekends in the Cup's program. The visibility brought by the Kontiolahti Games to Finland and North Karelia is great, especially in Central Europe, Russia and the Nordic countries," says Pekka Huovinen, development manager of the North Karelia County Association.

Huovinen sees the changes in the World Cup schedule bringing even more use to Kontiolahti's cooled track, which will be opened in mid-October thanks to the snow stored the previous winter.

"With the changes, Kontiolahti is an even more attractive place for the national teams' pre-training, as the advantage of the place is not only snow security but also travel comfort. Athletes training in Kontiolahti do not have to move to another competition location for the opening of the Cup."

More information:

  • Information of the International Biathlon Union 12 June 2019
  • Kontiolahti Sportsmen's Association, executive director Tomi-Pekka Riihivuori 0400 128 140
  • North Karelia Regional Association, development manager Pekka Huovinen, 040 583 5428