The International Ski Federation (FIS) has made a historic decision: Val Gardena, in north-eastern Italy, will host the Alpine Ski World Championships in 2031. This will be the second time that the event will be held in Val Gardena, 61 years after the last edition in 1970.

Val Gardena is a region known for its rich skiing and woodcarving tradition, located in the heart of the Dolomites. The community consists of three municipalities: Selva, Santa Cristina and Ortisei, all located at the foot of the majestic Langkofel. These places are not only famous for their natural beauty, but also for being a centre of innovation and tradition in the world of skiing.

Val Gardena is the birthplace of some of Italy’s best skiers, including Isolde Kostner and Alex Vinatzer. These athletes have brought the name of Val Gardena to an international level and now, in 2031, young local skiers will have the opportunity to compete in the World Championships on home soil, an event that will surely inspire future generations.

Val Gardena has hosted numerous World Cup races in the past, gaining valuable experience that will be put to use at the next Alpine Ski World Championships in 2031. Rainer Senoner, who is responsible for the World Cup events in Val Gardena, expressed his enthusiasm saying, “We are ready”.

Val Gardena wins selection at FIS World Congress in Reykjavik

The decision to select Val Gardena was taken at the FIS World Congress in Reykjavik, Iceland. Initially only the 2029 World Cup venue was to be chosen, but the FIS decided to select the 2031 venue as well due to the quality of the bids submitted. Narvik, Norway, will host the 2029 World Cup, while Val Gardena was chosen for 2031 in a vote that saw it prevail over Andorra by 14 votes to 6.

Flavio Roda, president of the Italian Ski Federation (FISI), welcomed the choice of Val Gardena, highlighting Italy’s success in organising previous World Cups in locations such as Cortina, Bormio and Sestriere.

Arno Kompatscher, governor of South Tyrol, also congratulated all those who had contributed to making this dream come true and expressed his enthusiasm for what will be a great sporting celebration dedicated to skiing.

The victory of Narvik, Norway, came as a surprise to many in the industry. Although Narvik is an emerging ski destination, it has major constraints for hosting the Alpine World Ski Championships in 2029. Located within the Arctic Circle, Narvik is one of the northernmost cities in the world. Despite having an altitude difference of about 1,000 metres, it has only 16 ski slopes. But doubts are superlative when considering the limited number of hotels and facilities, which could make it difficult to provide adequate accommodation for athletes, coaches, press and supporters during the event. Weather conditions in Narvik, located north of the Arctic Circle, can be extremely cold and unpredictable, with low temperatures and strong winds that could compromise the quality and safety of the races.

The resilience of Andorra and the Pyrenees

In contrast, Andorra’s bid to host the 2027 and 2029 World Cups suffered another disappointment when it failed to win the 2031 World Cup. David Hidalgo, director of Andorra’s bid, criticised the decision, suggesting that political factors influenced the vote. Despite his frustration, he praised his team’s efforts and reiterated his commitment to future events.

The defeat was greeted with great disappointment by Andorra and Grandvalira Resorts, especially as this is the third failure since the 2027 World Championships were awarded to Crans-Montana, Switzerland.

In Escaldes-Engordany, where the vote was streamed, the disappointment was palpable. Mònica Bonell, the Principality’s Minister of Sport, lamented the missed opportunity: ‘It is a sad day because a lot of work has been done. I think the FIS missed a great opportunity to organise the World Championships in the Pyrenees for the first time’.

Joan Verdú, one of Andorra’s leading skiers, also expressed his disappointment, saying that Andorra deserved to host the event: ‘Andorra deserved it 100 per cent. It’s a disgrace and if it was up to the skiers, we would definitely have hosted it’.

The repeated rejection of Andorra’s bid highlights the difficulties faced by smaller nations in competing with more established and politically influential ski destinations. However, the resilience shown by Andorra in its repeated attempts demonstrates a strong commitment to the development of winter sports and a determination to continue fighting for a place on the world stage.

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