During the past month, the best German, Norwegian and French biathletes tested the World Championships tracks. Meanwhile, the next generation of athletes benefits from ideal training conditions and the organising committee is working hard to prepare for the BMW IBU World Championships in February 2023.
“We receive registrations from the nations on a weekly basis. At the same time, the build-up is starting and we are fine-tuning the daily programme. We’re looking forward to the World Championships in February 2023 and we’ll do our best to be good hosts for the teams, their athletes and the fans”, says President of the OC, Thomas Grellmann.
Since the groundbreaking on September 17, 2019, the ARENA am Rennsteig has been modernised and expanded over three years. The fixed grandstand was expanded so there is room for 16,500 spectators instead of 12,000 in the stadium alone. 11,000 additional spectators can line the tracks and cheer for the athletes.
Three additional buildings have been constructed in the stadium, all meeting the increased international demands. A permanent seating grandstand with 2,000 seats has been installed on top of the technical building, the competition office is now placed in the sports science wing. The track layout has also received a facelift. In the summer months, athletes can choose from a total of ten different roller track formats. And the work has continued underground as well, implementing a new tunnel system to ease the warm-up and start access.
Sustainability was one of the key aspects of the renovation phase. The rebuilding paid a lot of attention to resource-saving construction with a focus on nature and environmental protection. Well-thought-out energy and snow management concepts have been implemented well before the climate protection debates and the current energy crisis. Various pieces of the puzzle - such as photovoltaic installations – put the energy supply on a sustainable and largely self-reliant footing.
The total scope of the measures - funded by both the state of Thuringia and the federal government - amounts to 29.8 million Euros. “Modernisation is an important basis for the future. Only with a clear focus on sustainability in all areas can winter sports and winter sports locations succeed in their development," explains sports facility director Dr Hartmut Schubert.
The first competitions took place during the German Championships at the beginning of September, when the ARENA was officially opened. Thuringia's Sports Minister Helmut Holter and Dr Hartmut Schubert handed over the symbolic key to Vanessa Voigt and Philipp Horn, who have grown into world-class athletes in Oberhof. Both are eager to reach the World Championships at home and are regarded as role models for the following generation of athletes.
Looking at the next generation was a key argument for making the investments. "It wasn’t a knee-jerk decision to modernise the LOTTO Thüringen ARENA on the Rennsteig in the lead-up to the World Championships and to adapt the route network and the adjacent functional areas to international standards. Competition and training facilities were created to offer the best possible conditions for children and young people. That is what makes this project an investment in the future,” explains Helmut Holter.
In addition to top events in biathlon, the Nordic skiing disciplines will be further developed in the future. Also, the use of the ARENA am Rennsteig for general sports activities and tourism is being promoted: the ARENA is not just a structural jewel, but a benefit for the entire Thuringian Forest region and the state.
Pictures: Harald Deubert/IBU