World-class winter sports on the Elbe

The snow cannons are loaded, the section of the embankment reserved for the summer Film Nights festival has been transformed into a ski arena, and the World Cup hotel at Königsufer now awaits the arrival of top skiers from all over the world. Everything is in place. This weekend, Dresden will be making its debut as host city for a World Cup cross-country skiing race. The 1.4km track runs along the banks of the Elbe. And even if the contestants have only limited opportunity during the race to marvel at the stunning view of the Old Town, the spectators certainly will.

The event gets underway on Saturday 13th January with the individual sprints and continues on Sunday with the team sprints. In addition, the entrants will be competing on both days in free-style skiing, also known as ‘skating’.

Admittedly, Dresden is not renowned as a winter sports hotspot. Nevertheless, the International Ski Federation (FIS) was convinced that the cultural metropolis had all the credentials to be included on the itinerary of the Ski World Cup. The competition is staged in several cities each year, most of which are classified as winter sports resorts. One of the other German cities chosen for this season is Oberstdorf.

The proposal put forward by MDR sports journalists René Kindermann and Torsten Püschel for the sprint events to be hosted by their city won the FIS committee over immediately. Its members liked the fact that the action would be integrated into the historic centre, that contestants and spectators could easily reach the venue on foot and that, despite it being such a big event, the atmosphere promised to be almost intimate. Part of the circuit is even going to be accessible to the public free of charge.

World Cup with a view: From the tracks, fans can see the Old Town silhouette with Semperoper and Frauenkirche © Skiweltcup Dresden

The home straight of the new Robotron Ski Arena is on the Königsufer embankment next to the Carola Bridge, where there is a capacity for 3,000 spectators to watch the start and finish of the race. The circuit continues down the Elbe and past the Augustus Bridge. The furthest point is just before the Glockenspiel Pavilion, a few metres from the Japanese Palace. It then doubles back towards the Augustus Bridge, past the famous Canaletto view, a small detour to the Augustusgarten, two small climbs, a tricky downhill corner – and finally the home straight.

The skiing does not finish after the World Cup weekend, however, because it will then be the turn of junior talent: from Monday to Friday, classes from the region will use the World Cup circuit for school sports. And the following weekend (20th – 21st January), the youngsters will be able to show their mettle in the International Sachsen Cup. Who knows, maybe some future World Cup contenders will be competing in this event?

When? 13th – 14th January 2018
Where? Ski Arena on the Königsufer, 01097 Dresden
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