2016 Saslong Classic: With Passion into the Future

Rainer Senoner and Stefania Demetz, the President and General Director/CEO, respectively, of the Saslong Classic Gardena/Gröden Organizing Committee reflect on the 2016 edition and its future.

49-year-old Rainer Senoner from Selva/Wolkenstein is newly minted president of the Saslong Classic Organizing Committee and talks with pride about the success of the 49th edition of the races.

Rainer Senoner: The two 2016 races were held in perfect conditions with all the operators and athletes themselves pleased. A larger audience than ever filled the finish area during the two races and the international media broadcast the event to every corner of the world. I’d say there is reason to be proud.

Because Val Gardena/Gröden always manages to impress with the quality of its races?
RS: The ongoing investments we have made to optimize every aspect of the race and the utmost level of professionalism of our entire team is surely what allows us to overcome even the most unimaginable weather conditions.
Do you mean that you were able to make artificial snow even if we didn’t have much natural one?
RS: It’s not just about producing snow but making the track even more beautiful than ever thanks to the know-how and expertise of our local crew, those who have lived this all their lives. But there is more. We solve problems the creative way. In 2014, for example, we did not have enough snow to fill the holes along the track and we ended up using a straw: it worked and since then many have copied the technique. 

Stefania Demetz is General Director/CEO of Saslong Classic. In your opinion, the success of your event is to be attributed solely to the impeccable quality and experience of your crew?
Stefania Demetz: I think our system works because it is based on very different elements that all blend well together. On the one hand, it is what Rainer says and I would add that we continue to gain insights that come from the markets, trends and successes, and that is above and beyond our specific sector.

Can you provide examples?
SD: We draw inspiration for our entertainment program from initiatives that work in larger cities or by offering special “VIP experiences” for our corporate sponsors including unique advertising opportunities.

How many things have changed since you entered the Saslong Classic in 1988?
RS: As for my specific role, safety is the one thing that has changed the most. To think that we used 800 meters of safety nets and now there are 28,000 meters! In general, the level of professionalism of all the roles has increased tremendously.

And according to you, Mr. Demetz? What do you think were the most significant changes of the last few years?
SD: We no longer see our event as a pure sporting event but a social, cultural, economic and political event with all that this implies in terms of marketing and communication objectives. Yes, as demonstrated by the bib allocation rules, it seems that the ski world is aiming for more spectacularity.

RS: I personally believe that skiing will always be suspenseful because weather and snow conditions are never the same and no result can be taken for granted, as demonstrated by Max Franz’ victory today in the Downhill.

What do you think, Ms. Demetz?
It has changed a lot. We have to relate to different users, to lifestyle changes over the years and know that we have to research new ideas based on trends that work in order to keep the level of interest strong.

So, what can we expect from Saslong Classic in the future?
RS: I wish for the entire valley to embrace this race and get to feel it on their skin.

SD: We have to continue to do well on the race track but also keep an eye out for the larger picture. This is a large-scale event in a small mountain village, an event that is being followed and admired by the whole world