The FIS Snowboard and Freeski big air World Cup competitions scheduled to take place on January 3-4, 2020 at the ARAG BIG AIR Freestyle Festival in Duesseldorf have been canceled by the organising committee due to a clash with the DFL’s (The German Football League) calendar scheduling.
Unfortunately, the German Football League (DFL) did not consider the application of the football club Fortuna Duesseldorf to play their 17th round match as an away game, outside of the Merkur Spiel Arena. Despite the intensive efforts in the last two weeks from the operator of the venue, as well as the city of Duesseldorf, DFL scheduling dictates that that game must take place at Merkur Spiel Arena on December 21, 2019 - some 10 days before what was to be the beginning of training sessions for the FIS World Cup competitions.
Since the extensive construction work for the large scaffold ramp requires at least two and a half weeks for completion, the ‘home game’ for Fortuna Dueseldorf means there won’t be sufficient time to prepare the venue to host the big air World Cup under perfect conditions and in a safe manner.
"We would like to thank Fortuna Dusseldorf and the Merkur Spiel Arena for making such an effort for the World Cup events. The fact that the DFL did not take into account the suspension date is very unusual, but unfortunately it is also a binding fact," said August Pollen, the chair of the Organising Committee.
While disappointed with the timing of the DFL’s decision, Fortuna Dusseldorf conceded that the big air event did indeed need to be canceled if the scheduled match was to take place, as the long-term preparatory work for the game has been going on for just over a year.
"The preparations for an international sports event with a seven-digit sponsorship volume can not simply wait for the announcement of the DFL schedule in July, five or six months before the event. The agreements with FIS, with sponsors and service providers have been running for months. As a rule, the requirements of other sports federations are also taken into account among each other,” explained Pollen.
"Apparently, those responsible at the DFL are not sports fans, but exclusively football fans,” Pollen went on.
”This is definitely a low-blow for this globally-growing sport, and politically unattractive, as well,” added the President of the Snowboard Association Germany Hanns-Michael Hölz.
The Organizing Committee of the Big Air World Cup had no choice but to cancel the event, despite extensive sponsorship funding. After the announcement of the DFL game calendar, the organisers made intensive efforts to find a solution to the schedule conflict.
"In the past two weeks, we have played through a variety of scenarios day and night, but it is impossible to accelerate the construction in such a way that the event can be held under the new conditions," said Hauke Bochem, the project manager.
With the ARAG BIG AIR Freestyle Festival,the organisers, along with the FIS, Snowboard Germany and the DSV (German Ski Association) wanted to show the sport to broader audience and inspire younger generations.
"We would like to express our gratitude to all sports associations for the truthful cooperation. Just like us, they put a lot of passion into this event,” explained the OC head August Pollen.
“All options with the DFL where reviewed to make this competition happen, but unfortunately no solution could be found,” said Roberto Moresi, FIS Contest Director for Park & Pipe, “On the positive side, however, since the cancellation the Organizers have received extensive feedback from the media and community expressing a deeply felt desire to have seen successful Dusseldorf big air World Cup competitions take place. Motivation to hold these competitions in Dusseldorf in the future is high.”
Expected to bring some of the world’s best riders for two days of top-level freeski and snowboard action, the ARAG BIG AIR Freestyle Festival was shaping up to be a highlight of the 2019/20 calendar and return of big air World Cup action to Germany after two successful editions were held in Moenchengladbach back in 2016 and 2017.
"We would also like to thank Michael Brill and his team from D.LIVE, Fortuna Dusseldorf, the city of Dusseldorf and, of course, our sponsors for their dedication and great support," said August Pollen. "We are all disappointed that we can not host such an exciting event.”
Further updates on potential replacements for the Dusseldorf Snowboard and Freeski big air World Cup competitions with locations and dates will be communicate ASAP once solutions are found. Please refer to the online FIS Calendar.