Mark your calendars, the anniversary is confirmed: Crans-Montana will host the Alpine Skiing World Championships in February 2027, exactly 40 years after it was the open-air theater of the greatest collective achievement in national sport. In 1987, Pirmin Zurbriggen, Maria Walliser, Erika Hess and the others won an impressive 14 medals, including eight of ten awarded. Will Marco Odermatt (who will then be 29 years old) and Co. succeed? In any case, they have the opportunity to try.
On the first evening of the 53rd Congress of the International Ski Federation (FIS), which will be held in Milan until Thursday, the sixteen councilors and the two athletes’ representatives approved the candidacy of the Valais town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany), Narvik (Norway) and Soldeu (Andorra).
For the Swiss of alpine skiing, this is a huge relief. The completion of a plan that ultimately worked out smoothly. The promoters had applied for the 2025 edition by integrating the tacit rules of the game: shunned for the 2023 edition in favor of Courchevel-Méribel (France), the Austrian town of Saalbach-Hinterglemm had a certain priority. Then, we thought, it would naturally be Crans-Montana’s turn. jubilee year Random or not.
With the approach of the vote, the actors in the Valais candidacy were still confident and relaxed in public. A facade. Behind the scenes, no one risked the slightest prediction. As if the rules of the game had changed. It’s a bit like that. The Swede Johan Eliasch, who was elected President of the FIS in June 2021 thanks to his entrepreneurial aura and the promise to make things happen, has nothing to do with old practices. And some feared that the leader would use his influence to serve Soldeu’s candidacy. Didn’t the Andorran Ski Federation support him in his campaign, especially against Urs Lehmann, President of Swiss-Ski?
The nervousness is gone
What if Garmisch-Partenkirchen’s discreet lobbying hasn’t paid off? Or that the Narvik project surprises with its tracks cascading down a fjord in an extraordinary setting? At the foot of the Allianz Tower in Milan this Wednesday, Norwegian officials believed in it, particularly praising the excellent performance of their worlds in terms of sustainability.
Vice-director of Crans-Montana’s bid, Hugo Steinegger, did not try to hide his nervousness. “Of course we did our little calculations,” he said. If everyone who promised us their vote keeps their word, it will happen…” But in this sense, yes, Urs Lehmann would be President of the FIS, the man remembers that well. He had no choice but to wait for the repairs.
All fears have disappeared in the discretion of the 47th floor of the building that also houses the offices of the organization of the 2026 Olympic Games Crans-Montana will have its World Cup. With a budget of between 60 and 80 million francs, they will act as a catalyst for various projects in the Haut Plateau resort. For example, the arrivals stadium will be completely renovated to accommodate 20,000 spectators in its maximum configuration and then various types of events.
“The nervousness finally got the better of me”
Minutes after the verdict was announced, three men emerged from the glass doors, arms raised, as if they had just crossed the finish line eight tenths ahead of the competition. Your victory is actually measured in votes. In the end, many votes. Crans-Montana triumphed in the first ballot with eleven votes. Narvik and Soldeu got three, Garmisch-Partenkirchen just one. Urs Lehmann does not say that he is so surprised. “Late last week I felt the nervousness rising up around me and eventually overwhelming me. So on Saturday I picked up my phone and called everyone. In the evening I was convinced that we would win.
Daniel Bollinger, who is responsible for the World Championships at Swiss-Ski, couldn’t find peace. “Even when I was told that an application had passed the first round, I told myself it must be ours… But I had my doubts. It has been an intense year with many discussions and administrative procedures. But now we know it was worth it.”
In 2027, Switzerland will host the Alpine World Ski Championships for the tenth time. The predecessor in Saint-Moritz only dates back to 2017. “Ten years apart: That corresponds to our strategy of holding the event regularly,” comments Daniel Bollinger. “The rhythm may not be easy to follow in the future, as nations like Andorra or Norway appear that have not yet applied to organize the World Cup,” Urs Lehmann continues. But we have an ambitious plan that will last until 2037. Large competitions make it possible to write history, stimulate young talent and, of course, generate economic by-products. In total, they are estimated at 350 million francs for Crans-Montana 2027.”
Turbulence on the Haut Plateau
Coincidentally, the Haut-Plateau ski area won its world championship at a time when the company CMA SA, which manages its ski lifts, is going through turbulence. The six employees in the marketing and events department have been laid off, while a “cleansing operation” is underway in the ten companies of the owner, Czech Radovan Vitek, in the region, according to information from “Le Temps”. The businessman would probably even sell the ski lift company, be it to the three communes of Crans-Montana, Icogne and Lens or to another player.
Also read: In Crans-Montana, Radovan Vitek’s “degreasing campaign”.
Swiss-Ski is aware of this situation. Federal President Urs Lehmann is not overly concerned about this. “What I do know is that by 2027 we need ski lifts that work perfectly 24/7 with no nasty surprises. But we always find solutions. We have enough time ahead of us to settle things down.”
Also read: In Crans-Montana, the ski lifts are drawing a line under marketing
While the application was originally made by the local organizing committee, the federation will now be at the forefront of implementation. There will be job offers (up to ten positions) and construction sites. And in February 2027, all the work will subside to clear the track for athletes to perform. Urs Lehmann sums it up: “I hope that this event will motivate young people to do their best to be part of the party. And also that it gives the most experienced a good reason to pursue their career for a few more years…”
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