Bavaria hopes ski championships boost Olympic chances

Organisers of the Alpine World Ski Championships are hoping to put on a top-class event to help boost Munich's chances of hosting the Winter Olympics in Bavaria in 2018.

Bavaria hopes ski championships boost Olympic chances
Photo: DPA

The world championships start in southern Germany on Tuesday with the women’s super-G, and finish on February 20 with the men’s slalom.

Having last hosted the world championships in 1978, Garmisch-Partenkirchen will also host the downhill and nordic events if the Munich 2018 bid is successful when the International Olympic Committee decides on July 6.

If Munich beats France’s Annecy and South Korea’s Pyeongchang to host the 2018 showpiece, Garmisch-Partenkirchen will host nine competition venues, one of the two athletes’ villages, a media village and media centre.

What the world championships do not need are any more high-profile crashes like Austria’s Hans Grugger who suffered severe head injuries at the start of the year in a training accident.

Just a few miles from the Austrian border, in the heart of the Bavarian Alps, the market town hosted the 1936 Winter Olympics under the Nazis.

It is now a regular fixture on the World Cup circuit and it was here that alpine skiing became part of the Winter Olympics programme for the first time.

The world championships’ slalom events will be held on the Gudiberg slope and the Kandahar course will host the super-G, downhill, giant slalom and part of the combined events in the shadow of Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain.

As a resort, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is home to several of Germany’s top winter sports athletes and home girl Maria Riesch will be defending the world slalom title she won in Val d’Isere two years ago.

She will also be hoping home turf can help her break United States’ starlet Lindsey Vonn’s domination of women’s Alpine skiing for the last three years as the German is the current leader in the World Cup rankings.

As the reigning Olympic slalom and combined champion, Riesch was born in raised in Garmisch.

She has detailed knowledge of the Gudiberg hill and Kandahar course where she defeated Vonn by more than half a second in the downhill last March in the World Cup Finals.

Germany’s Kathrin Hölzl, who won the world giant slalom title in 2009, also knows what to expect from the Khandahar course.

“The terrain is truncated, has many transitions, is tight and yet still variable before it bottoms out flat,” she said.

“I’m sure it will be a suspenseful competition and I’m really hoping for the support of our ‘twelfth man’, our fans.”


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Four injured as WWII bomb explodes near Munich train station

Four people were injured, one of them seriously, when a World War II bomb exploded at a building site near Munich's main train station on Wednesday, emergency services said.

Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich.
Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Privat

Construction workers had been drilling into the ground when the bomb exploded, a spokesman for the fire department said in a statement.

The blast was heard several kilometres away and scattered debris hundreds of metres, according to local media reports.

Images showed a plume of smoke rising directly next to the train tracks.

Bavaria interior minister Joachim Herrmann told Bild that the whole area was being searched.

Deutsche Bahn suspended its services on the affected lines in the afternoon.

Although trains started up again from 3pm, the rail operator said there would still be delays and cancellations to long-distance and local travel in the Munich area until evening. 

According to the fire service, the explosion happened near a bridge that must be passed by all trains travelling to or from the station.

The exact cause of the explosion is unclear, police said. So far, there are no indications of a criminal act.

WWII bombs are common in Germany

Some 75 years after the war, Germany remains littered with unexploded ordnance, often uncovered during construction work.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about WWII bomb disposals in Germany

However, most bombs are defused by experts before they explode.

Last year, seven World War II bombs were found on the future location of Tesla’s first European factory, just outside Berlin.

Sizeable bombs were also defused in Cologne and Dortmund last year.

In 2017, the discovery of a 1.4-tonne bomb in Frankfurt prompted the evacuation of 65,000 people — the largest such operation since the end of the war in Europe in 1945.