Grandvalira crowns 3 years of intense work by celebrating the biggest event in its history
At 30 days before the gathering, the two slopes where the different events will be held are practically ready for the big event that will take place from 11 to 17 March.
Marcel Hirscher and Mikaela Shiffrin top the ranking of the competition, which is currently at a standstill due to the World Ski Championships held in Sweden.
Ever since the International Ski Federation (Fédération Internationale de Ski, FIS) chose the Soldeu El Tarter sectors at Grandvalira for the 2019 Alpine Ski World Cup Finals in October 2015, the resort has worked relentlessly to host the largest sporting event in Andorra's history. The milestone event will be held from 11 to 17 March. During this time, the country will host the best skiers in the world, who will compete for the title on the Aliga de El Tarter slopes, where speed skiing competitions will be held, and the Avet (Soldeu) slope, the venue for technical disciplines.
During this time, and more intensely after hosting the European Cup Finals last year, the resort has gotten an overhaul, fitting it with the latest technology and all the equipment needed to turn the Aliga and Avet slopes into reference World Cup facilities in Europe. One of the ambitious projects that can guarantee this is the skiable platform of Soldeu, a facility that has allowed to extend the reach of the Avet slope, increase the space for the stands, the teams and the sponsors, and improve the logistics of television broadcasting.
During the presentation held last Friday, the General Director of the Organizing Committee, Conrad Blanch, outlined that the resort “is ready to offer the world its best side”. Now that the new platform is finished, technicians have focused during the last weeks on fine-tuning the two slopes where the different competitions will be held. Blanch explained that the layout of the Avet slope is now ready, while the Aliga slope is still missing the upper part and will be in mint condition for the historic event.
The two slopes will have to fulfil the so-called snow control on 28 February. Besides this procedure, the FIS—after having validated the facilities last October—has not made further statements, fully entrusting the team organizing the Finals. In the days leading up to the event, these two competition venues will require a safety net spanning 18,195 metres in total.
The presentation was also attended by the President of the Government of Andorra, Antoni Martí, as Honorary President of the Organizing Committee. Martí stressed that an event of this kind grants “the Andorra brand to be associated with the world's sporting elite”. The mayor of Canillo, José Mandicó, delivered some emotional words to all those visionaries who believed in the project and encouraged all Andorrans to attend the finals since this is a unique act which is not to be missed. For his part, Xavier Cornelia, Chief Executive Officer of Credit Andorra, the main sponsor, recalled that “we have been supporting skiing for more than half a century. Our commitment to these Finals is part of a conviction that goes way back and time has proven that this commitment was the right choice.”
Marcel Hirscher and Mikaela Shiffrin lead the ranking
On top of the 25 racers from each discipline, ninety skiers are expected at the competition. Nevertheless, the exact number will be known once the registration closes on February 25. The World Cup circuit is presently at a standstill because the World Championships are being held in Åre, Sweden. This event takes place every two years. To date, the overall ranking in the men’s category is spearheaded by the unbeatable Austrian skier Marcel Hirscher, followed by the French Alexis Pinturault and the Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen. The women's category exhibits the American Mikaela Shiffrin in first place, the Slovak Petra Vlhová in second place and the Swiss Wendy Holdener in third place.
The 2019 Andorra World Cup Finals will not feature ski legend Lindsey Vonn, who has announced that she is retiring after the Åre World Cup, nor will it feature the speed racer Aksel Lund Svindal, who will hang up his skis this February. The competition will mobilise up to 600 people in the teams from each one of the 18 participating countries.
We’ll all be champions this winter
Aside from the competitive aspect, the organisers of the World Cup Finals have made an effort to involve the Andorran population in the event, flaunting the slogan “We’ll all be champions this winter”. It is thus expected that this major event will have an unprecedented impact in Andorra: the goal is to reach 25,000 attendants during the five days of competition, approximately half in Soldeu and the other half in El Tarter.
In terms of broadcasting figures, 60 television channels with broadcasting rights will be present. 35 of these will broadcast the live competitions and 700 million potential viewers are expected to follow the competition.
Andorra Televisió holds broadcasting rights and will transmit a live broadcast of the competitions. In addition, a giant screen will be set up in the city centre of Andorra la Vella so that the entire population can follow the competition.
Another indicator of media presence at the event are the 350 journalists that the organisers plan to host during the competition. More than 200 journalists have already received accreditation.
On top of the sport competitions, a programme of parallel events has been developed so that the audience can enjoy themselves together with their idols. The planned activities include a large parade of the teams on 9 March and an opening ceremony on the Avet slope on 12 March, among others. There will also be a public lottery of the bib numbers on 16 March together with an apres-ski entertainment programme at L'Abarset during the entire week, as well as an exhibition space for the presentation of materials and innovations delivered by the largest ski brands.