Arne Idland: Blink Skifestival Could Become Start Of FIS World Cup Season

Arne Idland is a legend. It’s under his stewardship that the Norwegian biathlon, featuring great Ole Einar Bjørndalen & Co, became the world’s best. Twice Idland was in charge of the Norwegian team this century – and twice it was on top of the podiums.

Last year a 49 year old native of Sandnes resigned his commission as a top coach of the Norwegian national biathlon team to concentrate at his other job – that of the Sports Director for Blink Skifestival ( Idland is also a coach for Figgjo IL, local sports club)

International experience and energy of Idland is in no small part a reason why a summer sporting event in relatively “non-skiing” part of Norway have gradually became an absolute must-go for the world’s best skiers and biathlets.

– So, why Sandnes is interested in holding Blink Skiefestival every year, what does it provide the local community with?

Blink is held in the Sandnes region which is one of the new and most popular regions for tourism in Norway for the moment. In the Sandnes region we have the famous Lysefjorden with The Pulpit Rock and Kjerag mountains. The last Mission Impossible movie which will have premier now in July had a sequence with Tom Cruise hanging from the Pulpit Rock cliff 640 meter above sea level.
Sandnes community is also one of the regions in Norway with highest growth in population.
Sandnes was an industrial city in the 20th century. Now the city is in a major transformation – going from industry to becoming one of the most modern cities in Norway. The activity and future potential is high.

Blink is a tool for the city of Sandnes and the Sandnes region to show the whole world which potential this city and region has concerning development and tourism!

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Blink’s specialty: two temporary bridges built in the center of the town of Sandnes for the event
… bridges are prefab construction and are kept in storage for the rest of the year, then put in place at the last minute – finished off by applying a smooth layer of asphalt on top – it’s rollerskiing, after all, has to be smooth!
– What’s the Blink Festival budget for the year of 2018? Is NOK 22mln quoted by Aftonbladet a correct number?

We do not have the exact figures yet but we think our budget for BLINK 18 will be around NOK 22-23 million (about 2,4 – 2,5 million Euro)

Athletes from how many countries are participating this year? Last year there was 21 countries, we hear?
– Right, last year we had athletes from 21 nations. This year we have athletes from 20 nations entered so far.

Skifestival is expected to draw some 50000 spectators of the course of four days

– Apart from  Johannes Høsflot Klæbo, pretty much every other Olympic/world champion of the last 2 years in xc ski is participating, correct?

This year we have around 40 medalists who took around 70 medals in the Olympics 2018 to start. (Cross country skiing and biathlon)

– Why is Johannes Klæbo not participating?

The timing was not good for Klæbo this year. He is in a training period where competitions did not suit his plan.

– As per Aftonbladet, you compensate travel expenses for some teams and individual skiers ( e.g. The Russian team will get EUR 10000 to cover expenses). Is that a correct info?

We compensate different team with different support. The best teams like Russia get support to cover travel cost and we provide the best team free accommodation. I do not have the exact sum we supported Russia with but 10 000 euro sound correct to me.

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Dag 3! Vi er på plass i Sandnes ☀️🌧

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– Swenor is out, IDT is a sole material ( rollerski) sponsor for this year, is that so?

We have chosen IDT rollerskis. One of the main reasons is that IDT have the best rollerskis in the world.

IDT is also a big company and the have capitital to invest in development. We can see that IDT improve their rollerskis year by year.
IDT also come with  around 1000 brand new rollerskis to Blink every year. Then they secure that all athletes have the same resistance on the wheels and the competition is fair!

– Blink festival has 4 races of different length – all run on the identical rollerskis for all participants. Do you think it makes Blink a better, more fair test of who is the world’s best skier than the FIS World Cup/World championships where skis and service team play a role?

I think it is a good thing that the organizers of an event like BLINK provide the same equipment to all athletes from all nations. When I have said this, I do not think it is fair to compare Summer events like Blink with the World Cup races held on snow. To keep the industry alive ( Fischer, Salomon, Swix, Madshus, Rossi and so on) it is important to have other rules for the World Cup. The industry pays an important part in the World Cup athletes income.
We have many sports where equipment is an important part of the game e.g. Formula 1, cycling, ski jumping, all boat sports, rifle shooting. If it is fair or not is up to other people to judge.

Do you think it’s time to  turn Blink Skifestival into official Summer Ski World championship?

Blink is an event where we as organizers try to have competition and equipment ( slow rollerskis) that favour the best skiers on snow. We would not like to go in a direction that favour rollerski specialists (fast wheels and so on). We try to play along with the Norwegian Ski Federation with everything we do. We want to have the best skiers and biathlets from the FIS abd IBU World Cup/championships to Blink and we also want to listen to the best athletes to develop the event for the future. If Blink in the future could become a start of the the FIS World Cup season it would mean much more for us than becoming a world rollerskiing championships!


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