Ruhpolding’s mayor Claus Pichler, district administrator Sigi Walch, German Ski Federation treasurer Jörg Flechtner and IBU deputy Viktor Maigurov are looking forward to exciting biathlon competitions with a backdrop perfect for winter sports.
As usual, the ceremony began with the Ruhpolding’s girls gymnastics team dancing to uplifting music wearing Beppo costumes. Since it was minus six degrees, the spectators were well advised to dance along to keep warm. After a the gymnasts performed a special choreographic dance with torches, the regular announcers Harry and Geri, accompanied this year by the charming Laura Erdelyi, welcomed the many fans in the fully occupied Champions Park. Ruhpolding’s first graders and a few third graders then marched onto the stage carrying signs to welcome all 34 participating countries.
On behalf of Ruhpolding and the Organizing Committee, the mayor Claus Pichler welcomed the visitors and was excited that it was snowing. The Organizing Committee vice president, Engelbert Schweiger, promised ideal conditions for the competitions.
The district administrator Siegfried Walch and German Ski Federation treasurer Jörg Flechtner were asked to come on the stage after the young men and women of the two local traditional dress and dance associations danced the “Olympics Polka” and the Schuhplattler Amboß polka. “The Biathlon World Cup is always something very special for our region,” said Siegfried Walch, “not only because we are an athletic region, but also because of the special fan culture that is re-ignited every year.” Jörg Flechtner reflected on the great images and atmosphere in Oberhof and was optimistic that this could again be topped in Ruhpolding. He also thanked Ruhpolding’s Organizational Committee and the many volunteers without whom such a large event could not take place.
Michael Rösch with a big, bushy beard
The highlight of the show was once again the marching-in of the nations, beginning with the Austrian team. Julian Eberhard thought that there was more snow in Hochfilzen, but Geri convinced him that it was probably the same amount. Austria was followed by the Belgian one-man-team of Michael Rösch, who has obtained two sixth places this season already and has gotten a few laughs with his quote, “In Oberhof a fan told me I was at the peak of my masculinity.” Might that have something to do with his full beard? Canada’s trainer Matthias Ahrens who is from Bad Tölz, is expecting strong performances from his athletes. The British coach Daniel Graf who lives in Siegsdorf, received the mandate from none less than the Queen to teach his athletes how to shoot and ski.
The Swedes love Ruhpolding
The South Tyrolean Ubaldo Prucker is the Japanese team trainer and asked the fans to support his athletes with the Japanese cheer of encouragement “gambate.” Ricco Groß hopes his Russian men’s relay team will win a medal and Wolfgang Pichler’s Swedish team has “We Love Ruhpolding” printed on the back of their jackets. Pichler said he hopes that his athletes ski faster than Harry can talk, because then then have good chances. Benjamin Weger of the Swiss team entered a friendly full beard duel with Michael Rösch. They agreed it was a tie. As always, the German team was the last to get on the stage. Simon Schempp reflected on his victory in Oberhof and hopes for more of the same in his adopted home town Ruhpolding. Vanessa Hinz talked about her relay stick exchange with Lisa Hauser, and Laura Dahlmeier hopes to be as successful this year as last year in Ruhpolding.
At the end of the ceremony, IBU Vice President Viktor Maigurov got on the stage. He is also happy about the beautiful natural snow and about the fairness amongst the athletes, as demonstrated again by the actions of Lisa Hauser and Vanessa Hinz. He then pronounced the World Cup as opened. The IBU flag was raised while the fireworks began to illuminate Ruhpolding’s winter sky.