The Benefits of Smallness – Alpine World Championships Åre 2019

The overall urge to excel and lift the community Åre as event champions is a decisive factor for the Alpine town’s success in Alpine competitions. Åres Alpine events are about closeness between competitors, audience, the alpine village atmosphere and the surrounding mountains.

alpin tävling åre
Alpine World Cup Team Event in Swedish Mountain Resort Åre. Photo: Håkan Wike

You can talk investments when it comes to slopes, ski lifts, snow making systems and lightning, but those are just investments which any ski resort can come up with. The secret of the small alpine village Åre´s  success when it comes to large events is in something else. After some 100 World Cup arrangements, the alpine World Championships 1954, 2007 and now 2019, Åre comes well prepared for more alpine events. The World´s 2019 is in no way comparable to the first World Championships in 1954. Both the sport and the village is something else today and the resort as well as the village in itself continues transforming. The pride behind having arranged the Alpine World Championships already sixty years ago lingers, and you can even sense it in the next generation of Åre villagers.

Åre VM 1954
Åre World Championships 1954 in 86-year-old skier Vivi-Anne Wassdahl´s Photo Album. Photo: Håkan Wike

The Recipe for Success

The president of the World Championships 2019, Niklas Carlsson, lifts the ability to ”do what you promise” crucial to the spirit of Åre´s Alpine Events. It may seem like something you would take for granted, but Niklas says this is a trait when it comes to all Scandinavian Events.

We are good at arranging competitions here in Åre, Niklas Carlsson says. The honour in delivering what you promised is obvious among all who works with us around the events.

The organisation is tight with experiences going way back, recurring competitions and dedicated co-workers year after year makes way for stability and routine. No matter what event, summer or winter, there are lots of enthusiasts living in or nearby Åre – ready to do what it takes with whatever they are set to do. The ability to push things forward, create and engage is something many lift as personality traits among villagers in Åre.

Alpine skier Andre Myhrer
Swedish Team Alpine Skier André Myhrer. Photo: Håkan Wike

Dedicated Volunteers and a Feeling of Tightness

The mountain resort Åre also attracts staff from the rest of Sweden. The Alpine Events of Åre seem a great concern to many more.

During the World Cup in 2018 when we had several decimeters of snow the night before the competition whe had to hold people back from pushing their limits trying to get the slopes in race condition, says Hans Olsson, former Swedish Downhill Team Racer, now Assisting Sports Director of Åre 2019.

Hans Olsson also lifts the experience he has got from working with his brother Jon Olsson and his Freestyle Big Air competitions in Åre: it has to be a little tight. That makes it all the more personal and the proximity to the stars of the event is important to the younger audience. He thinks that is something to consider even in the more traditional Alpine Events.

The feeling of having the competitors right close to the audience is something I appreciated when racing and I think it is a winning concept for Åre, says Hans Olsson.

Vivi-Anne Wassdahl was a Swedish Elite Skier in the 50s and 60s. Photo: Håkan Wike

The Closeness to the Participants

It is not just the younger crowd who appreciates the tightness in the Åre Arena. This feeling includes the feeling of being in the midst of everything important, Vivi-Anne Wassdahl concludes. She is today an 86-year-old skier, who should have been one of the competitors at Åre 1954, but unfortunately broke her leg just before the Alpine Championships.

The races are best seen on the TV nowadays, Vivi-Anne says and smiles.

She used to go around the world as one of the best Swedish Skiers during the 50s and 60s and for the Åre World Championships in 2007 she was already a villager in Åre since way back and working as a volunteer at the event.

There must never be too many screens, signs and objects blocking in the arena, she says. You still want the closeness to the racers, the village and the mountain when participating in the event.

Maria Pietilä Holmner
Alpine Skier Maria Pietilä Holmner is Resident in Åre since 2017. Photo: Håkan Wike

The Best Things About Åre According to Skier Maria Pietilä Holmner

A younger skier, Maria Pietilä Holmner, Åre villager since 2017, had her major breakthrough at Åre 2007. She was a little in the shadow behind Super Star Anja Pärsson and surprised everyone winning a silver medal in Giant Slalom in her home country. Thinking back at her skiing career, which ended in 2017 due to an injury in her back, she lifts the closeness as the unique feature in comparison to other ski arenas in the Alpine World Cup Tour.

The simplicity in the transfer from the airport, the closeness to the village Åre, the short distances between slopes, accommodation and shops – that is what all racers appreciate. It is easy being a ski racer in Åre.

Åre 2019
The Entry Door to the Åre 2019 Office. Photo: Håkan Wike

FACTS

ALPINE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ÅRE 2019

14 days

11 medalists

600 racers

65 nations

18.500 meters of safety nets (A & B)

871 m vertical drop at most (69%)

70 meters flight experience (gents Downhill)

3.122 meters – longest race course (gents Downhill)

120.000 estimated number of visitors

600 television hours

700 million television viewers

1.500 media representatives on site

1.500 volunteers

400 billion SEK revenue

 

ÅRE 2019