Posts Tagged 'bansko'

Big ski in Bansko

Big ski in Bansko

A mere three years after stating its ambition to become a permanent fixture on the alpine skiing World Cup calendar, Bulgaria’s winter resort Bansko appears to be well on its way.
This season, Bansko will be among a select few locations to host both men’s and women’s World Cup events, alongside renowned winter sports venues as Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Lake Louise.

Admittedly, the men’s slalom and giant slalom events on February 18 and 19 were a late addition to the calendar, with the sport’s world governing body FIS awarding Bansko the races previously scheduled to have been held in Japan (the decision was made in June 2011 following the Tohoku earthquake in March).

Clearly, the fact that Bansko was already on the calendar, set to host women’s downhill and super-giant events later in February, played into the FIS decision, but it remains nevertheless a success to a resort that hosted its first top-tier competition in decades as recently as February 2009.

Swiss skier Fabienne Suter won the first downhill race, narrowly outracing Andrea Fischbacher, who did one better a day later. American Lindsey Vonn won the super-giant on March 1 2009 to extend her lead in the overall standings.

Last year, Bansko welcomed the men’s World Cup with slalom and super-combined events, won by Mario Matt of Austria and Italy’s Christof Innerhofer, respectively.

Preparations for this year’s events have already been completed, with a FIS inspection team giving the Alberto Tomba run the final approval to host the competitions at the weekend.

Following heavy snowfalls in the last month, lack of snow was never a worry, quite the opposite, with one metre of fresh snow accumulating last week. A total of 350 people and 12 heavy vehicles were used to get the run in top shape in the days before the FIS inspection, Bulgarian Ski Federation (BSF) president Tseko Minev said.

The total budget to organise the men’s and women’s World Cup events in Bansko was 8.2 million leva, according to reports in Bulgarian-language media, including a 3.6 million leva subsidy from the state Budget.

At the bottom of the run, organisers planned to build a 5000-seat stand, but there were also standing-only places alongside the run for the fans, BSF officials have said. One-day tickets were priced at 35 leva and two-day passes cost 55 leva. Admittance for children under 12 was 20 leva for one day and 30 leva for a two-day pass.

The tickets would also double as gondola lift passes on the day of the competition, organisers have said.

The first race on February 18 will be the giant slalom, with a slalom event on the second day.

The big absentee from Bansko will be Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic, last year’s overall World Cup winner and the current leader in this year’s standings. Kostelic, who injured his knee during the slalom run that was part of the super-combined competition in Sochi, underwent surgery and was expected to return to the slopes in March, Croatian ski officials said on February 14.

Kostelic is an accomplished slalom skier, winning 14 of his 24 career races in this discipline, as well as two slalom World Cups (in 2002 and 2011).

The race in Bansko was an opportunity for the Croatian to widen his lead of Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, whose strongest suits are the downhill and super-giant. Kostelic has already secured this season’s combined discipline World Cup, beating Feuz for the title, but his lead in the overall standings is only 70 points, a gap that Feuz could easily overturn with five super-giant races still on the calendar.

Bulgarian Government to allocate 2M leva for Bansko FIS World Cup

Bulgaria’s Government will allocate more than two million leva to finance the men’s alpine skiing World Cup event, which will be hosted by the country’s top mountain resort of Bansko, the country’s Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on February 1 2011.

As much as 1.95 million leva of the amount will be provided by the Sports Ministry, while the remaining 100 000 leva will be extended by the Ministry of Energy and Tourism, Borissov told Tseko Minev, head of the Bulgarian Ski Federation (BSF).

The sum will cover 40 per cent of the the total budget earmarked for the event’s organisation, which is estimated at five million leva by BSF.

Super Bansko

Skiing fans in Bulgaria were treated to an outstanding event of skiing on the last weekend of February, which only a fortnight ago was looking in danger of being ruined by the early arrival of spring and temperatures rising to double digits nationwide. But it all proved a false alarm and, as fortunes and the weather smiled seductively over Bansko, winter staged a comeback and the FIS World Cup leg proved a blast.

It was was the equivalent of a football super Sunday for Bulgaria, as while the international skiing elite congregated on the slopes of Bansko and thousands of fans made the pilgrimage to the winter resort, Sofia was bracing itself for the opening of the spring leg of the football season with a derby between arch rivals Levski Sofia and CSKA Sofia. The football match turned out to be a washout, as an otherwise unexpectedly decent football match, by Bulgarian standards, was overshadowed by violence on the terraces, which later spilled outside the ground and onto the streets.

But nevermind football. This was about Bansko’s magnificent white weekend and nothing would spoil it, not even initial concerns that the weather might interfere with proceedings as heavy clouds and thick fog enveloped the slopes on the day before the first race – it was just a teaser, with the sun emerging gloriously on February 26, bathing the mountain in its warm embrace.

Tourists flocked in their thousands as coaches ferried fans from Bansko town centre as early as 7am in the morning to Bunderishka Polyana, where the main stand was built. More than 7000 fans would make it up the mountain on both days, to give it the atmosphere of a real white carnival.

Bansko saw super combined on the first day, followed by slalom on February 27, and both had a fair share of drama.

Italy’s Christof Innerhofer – the reigning super-giant world champion, who finished second in the super combined race and third in downhill at the world championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen earlier in February – pulled off a win by the slimmest of margins, posting a combined time of 2:23.87.

What was particularly epic about his performance was that Innerhofer came in a lowly 11th place in the slalom leg, a full 1.2 seconds behind Germany’s Felix Neureuther, but Innerhofer regrouped to stage a brilliant super-giant run in the afternoon.

Neureuther, a slalom specialist, fell well behind in the super-giant, but still finished second overall, only 0.01 seconds behind Innerhofer. Frenchman Thomas Mermillod Blondin finished third, 0.33 seconds behind Innerhofer. Recently-minted slalom world champion, Jean-Baptiste Grange of France, who was expected to make a run at the podium, fell early into his slalom run and did not finish.

American Ted Ligety, the reigning giant slalom champion, finished fourth and World Cup leader Ivica Kostelic of Croatia, cheered on by his many fans present in Bansko, was fifth. Kostelic had secured the super combined lesser World Cup trophy well before the race in Bansko, the fourth and final in this discipline this season.

Mario Matt of Austria won the slalom on the second day, his first race win in nearly two years. The Austrian (31) was fastest in the morning’s first run and went on to be equally impressive in the second run to post a combined time of 1:50.35 and win his 13th World Cup race. His compatriot Reinfried Herbst clocked the second-best time, a mere 0.04 seconds behind.

Showing no ill after-effects from his mishap a day earlier, Jean-Baptiste Grange rounded out the podium, 0.48 seconds adrift, but he also managed to shorten the gap to Ivica Kostelic to 36 points in the slalom standings.

Kostelic tops the standings with 478 points, followed by Grange with 442, while Sweden’s Andre Myhrer is a distant 333 points with two races still to go.

In the overall standings following the Bansko races, Kostelic has a virtually-unassailable lead with 1294 points, while his closest pursuers, Didier Cuche of Switzerland and Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, have 725 points and 713 points, respectively. Both skiers specialise in the longer disciplines and skipped the slalom-centred event in Bansko altogether.

Bulgaria was also featured in both days of the spectacle, even if none of the resident skiers put in a big title challenge, as the local fans would have liked. Nevertheless, Georgi Georgiev scored big by finishing 21st in the slalom race, which won him 10 World Cup points, while Nikola Chongarov barely missed out by finishing 33rd.

Top skiing weekend and smiles all around for Matt and Innerhofer, who, apart from leaving Bulgaria with good memories, will have to get used to the idea of being neighbours after being given keys to brand-new flats in the Pirin Golf Complex near Razlog. Hopefully, that should mean we would be seeing more of them on the slopes of Bansko.

Bulgaria Expects 2-3% Economy Growth from Winter Tourism

Bulgaria is expecting a 2-3% growth of the economy during the winter tourist season, Deputy Economy Minister, Ivo Marinov, has announced.

He pointed out that Bulgaria’s tourism advertising is showing positive results so far. According to him, the country would depend on it for representing it as a year-long tourist destination.

Marinov participated in the presentation of the project “Rediscover Bulgaria,” which aims at selecting 50 unknown and interesting destinations, which are suitable for tourism and could develop the local businesses.

Bulgarian citizens will be able to take part in the selection of the new 50 places by submitting their proposals. The new destinations should not have been selected in the Top 100 of the tourist sites in Bulgaria before.

Marinov has stated that the new list would be ready by the spring of 2011.

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In 2006, RilaDev a English Bulgarian homebuilder embarked on one of the most ambitious hotel and residential project in Bansko, Bulgaria, Pirinea Hotel Spa and Residence.

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