The organizers had scheduled training on all hills starting early in the week but an unfortunate thaw and freeze left all the jumps very hard -- some would say icy. In addition, an uneven curve in the transition from the landing to the outrun of the 50 meter jump contributed to a number of falls. The situation frustrated some of the skiers so badly that each day as many as fifty of the two hundred IMC competitors drove eighty km to train in Villach, Austria, last year's IMC venue, where the hills and conditions were nicer.
The opening ceremony featured live music and dance performances, all in the Alpine fashion, as well as a group of skiers parading in old style clothing with very old skis. After a few short speeches, IMC president Klaus Günther pronounced the seventeenth IMC open, and many participants stayed around for dancing and fellowship.
Thursday morning, competition started with the IMC main event, the fifty meter jump, but not before organizers brought in a snow-cat and tilled the outrun for better stopping. However, the falls continued as the morning group, jumpers over 45 years of age, competed for the first medals of the week. The advance registration list showed 96 competitors signed up for the morning 50 meter competition but the printed start list contained only 73 of which just 48 actually finished. After lunch, the younger competitors took to the fifty meter hill in a long day of competition, with 69 jumpers in the finish list.
Next the Grand Masters over 70 years old had their chance for competition on the 20 meter hill, led by 82 year old Johs Johnsen of Norway. The first day of competion was brought to a close with the team competition.
Friday was another long day, with 20 and 40 meter jumping, followed by cross country in Medvode.
The 40 meter competition with 84 competitors, conducted in a single session, went on and on, pushing the start of cross country later and later, but finally it was all finished with the last of the 47 racers crossing the finish line as dusk settled.
Even the evening awards took a long time, with 20 meter, 40 meter and Nordic combined medals to distribute.
A haze had hung in the valley all week but on Saturday morning the haze was gone, cleared out by fresh winds and replaced by brilliant sunshine. But the winds were coming from a bad direction and made big hill jumping a bad proposition. IMC president Klaus Gunther called a meeting of team leaders on the deck next to the outrun of the 100 meter hill and the representatives agreed to move the big hill competition to the Villach 90 meter hill. Villach hosted the most recent IMC in 2005 and skiers had been training there all week so they knew that the conditions were good. Villach officials had been contacted and were ready to run an excellent competition on the shortest of notice. Athletes and officials drove en masse up the autobahn and through the five mile tunnel into Austria. Arriving at the Alpen Arena in Villach, they found beautiful packed powder and a gentle breeze tumbling down the mountain behind the jumps. The big hill event was a great success with 57 finishers in eight age groups!
Saturday evening, everybody followed the winding road up to the Bellevue Hotel on top of the mountain behind the jumps for the closing banquet, where entertainment was again provided by traditional dancers and two bands, one consisting of school kids singing and playing tuba, guitar and accordian.
Mayor Mohor Bogataj of Kranj thanked the skiers for coming to the city, and team leaders took the opportunity to present souvenir gifts to the hard working organizers.
Dinner was a buffet offering a vast array of delicious local specialties. The official activities ended with the last session of awards, the medals for the big hill. Then the band struck up again and some couples danced while other participants said their goodbyes and headed back down the mountain. IMC 17 was over.
A pre-registration list showed 218 participants from thirteen nations (Estonia, Italy and Poland were missing), but 2006 brought no new teams. Four of the teams failed to take home a medal. This is a recent phenomenon -- for years, every team had at least one medal. As usual, Norway brought the largest team and took home the most medals, with Finland close behind in the medal count. An unofficial count shows that, after no-shows, withdrawals and injuries, 177 athletes actually competed. The table at the right shows how this number broke down by nation how the medals were divided.
There were five multiple gold medalists, down from nine in 2005. Johs Johnsen, Willy Johansen and Seppo Kinnunen won two golds while Bjørn Odegård and Arsi Sjögren each took home three.
This year's iron-man was Martti Lamminpaa who skied in five events and won four medals! On Thursday morning, he won a silver medal on the 50 meter hill, and returned to the same hill late in the afternoon, one of three Finnish skiers recruited for the mixed Austria/Finland team that took the bronze in the team competition. He was back early Friday morning to ski the 40 meter jump where, by IMC rule, at age 68, he was required to earn his Nordic Combined points. He then drove his old square camper truck to Medvode to race one lap around lap around the 2.5 km cross country course, finishing in the bronze medal position. He ended his week by driving "Hotel Martti" to Villach where he took gold on the 90 meter hill. Yes, he and his younger brother Aatto drove the round trip from southern Finland to Kranj and back in the old diesel camper.
In 2005, the name of Olympian Karl Schnabl appeared on the pre-registration list, but Schnabl did not ski. This year, the phantom skier was Vinko Bogataj, made famous in North America by his frightening "Agony of Defeat" fall which was replayed every weekend for decades in the opening sequence of ABC-TV's Wide World of Sports. Bogataj followed Schnabl's example and did not compete.
or see the Event Website in Slovenia.
The busy program and changes in the schedule made it difficult to find a time for the annual IMC Committee meeting, but finally a meeting was hastily called for Saturday evening during the start of the banquet. Hinterzarten, Germany was chosen to host IMC 2007, with the schedule of events extended from three days to four. New IMC competition rules were also approved. The standing Committee officers (Klaus Günther, Torbjorn Haugen, Åke Saloniemi and Anton Zapf) were elected for another year, and Alexander Diess was added as a technical expert on ski jumps.
Here are the names of the medalists from IMC 2006 in Kranj, Slovenia:
20 meter (K) 40 meter (K) 50 meter (K) 90 meter (K) Nordic Combined Cl.11 JOHS JOHANSEN NOR JOHS JOHANSEN NOR 80-84 Cl. 9 KURT BRAUSSE GER RICHARD DIESS AUT WILLY JOHANSEN NOR *JAKA RES SLO 70-74 TEUVO KOLJONEN FIN WILLY JOHANSEN NOR RICHARD DIESS AUT RICHARD DIESS AUT KURT BRAUSSE GER TEUVO KOLJONEN FIN Cl. 8 FRANC PAVC SLO SVEIN HUSEBY NOR SVEIN HUSEBY NOR MARTTI LAMMINPÄÄ FIN *KARE HOLMEN NOR 65-69 MIRKO KNAFELJ SLO MARTTI LAMMINPÄÄ FIN MARTTI LAMMINPÄÄ FIN DON WEST USA FELIX AIRAPETOV RUS KÅRE HOLMEN NOR FELIX AIRAPETOV RUS MARTTI LAMMINPÄÄ FIN Cl. 7 PER BIRGER LOMHEIM NOR SIGMUND STENBERG NOR ANTTI KOKKONEN FIN AATTO LAMMINPÄÄ FIN AKE SALONIEMI SWE 60-64 OLLE STROMVALL SWE AKE SALONIEMI SWE SIGMUND STENBERG NOR ANTTI KOKKONEN FIN RIEDAR FINNANGER NOR TONY MIHELCIC AUS JAN RINGSETH NOR AATTO LAMMINPÄÄ FIN PER BIRGER LOMHEIM NOR Cl. 6 JOZE DOLZAN SLO DAG TESSEM NOR BJORN ODEGARD NOR BJORN ODEGARD NOR *BJÖRN ODEGAARD NOR 55-59 SASO KURENT SLO RISTO KOIVISTO FIN KNUT SÖRLIEN NOR KNUT SÖRLIEN NOR VICTOR KOLPAKOV RUS JANEZ PRESEREN SLO JANEZ GORJANC SLO VICTOR KOLPAKOV RUS OLE KJÖLEN NOR VAINO KARJALAINEN FIN Cl. 5 IVO MLAKER SLO HANNU KOHTALA FIN ARSI SJÖGREN FIN ARSI SJÖGREN FIN ARSI SJÖGREN FIN 50-54 OLE HERMANSEN NOR KATO EIDEM NOR PEKKA KORHONEN FIN STEIN JOHANNESEN NOR PERTTI LAAKSONEN FIN BRANKO BAS SLO ODD NORDSTEIEN NOR MIKHAIL PIROZHKOV RUS OLA HAGE NOR PEKKA KORHONEN FIN Cl. 4 JOZE ZUPAN SLO BRANE FINZGAR SLO VEIJO STRANDEN FIN ALFRED GROYER AUT KARI PESONEN FIN 45-49 JURGEN STIELOW GER SVEIN ERIK RONNING NOR FRODE HERMO NOR VEIJO STRANDEN FIN STIG DAHL NOR PETER JENKO SLO JURGEN STIELOW GER RAUNO KOMULAINEN FIN MARKUS MALVALEHTO FIN MATTI SAARI FIN Cl. 3 VLADO AEKO SLO KALEVI KANTOLA FIN KRISTOF GAŠPIRC SLO OYVIND VILLESVIK NOR G-RUNE LISLEGAARD NOR 40-44 ZVONE POGRAJC SLO VLADO AEKO SLO ERHARD RUPRECHTER AUT JANNE HEINONEN FIN MARKKU JANTUNEN FIN BOGDAN FINZGAR SLO BOGDAN FINZGAR SLO G-RUNE LISLEGAARD NOR ERHARD RUPRECHTER AUT OVE FREDHEIM NOR Cl. 2 JORG PREISSLER GER SEPPO KINNUNEN FIN SEPPO KINNUNEN FIN PETER BAUER GER 35-39 PIETRO NILSSON SWE LENNART THEANDER SWE PETER BAUER GER KONST'N GRIGORYEV RUS ROBERT KOPAE SLO KONST'N GRIGORYEV RUS KONST'N GRIGORYEV RUS ALEX. POSTONOGOV RUS Cl. 1 IGOR JELEN SLO J. HIERO-GREINER GER J. HIERO-GREINER GER IGOR JELEN SLO 30-34 KLAUS SÖLKER AUT MARKO GOLKE GER ALEXANDER DIESS AUT ALEXANDER DIESS AUT FRANCI ROGELJ SLO IGOR JELEN SLO GIDO WINDISCH GER KLAUS SÖLKNER AUT * Nordic combined gold medals also went to: WILLY JOHANSEN (70, NOR) ERNST RÜHL (67, GER) JANEZ GORJANC (57, SLO) who jumped on different hills.
That's all for IMC 2006, now on to Germany for IMC 2007, ...
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