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11 December 2020 | in Winter FISU World University Games

Spotlight: Remembering the Innsbruck 2005 Winter Universiade

 

The Winter Universiade heads to the renowned Tyrolian winter sports spot for the 21st event edition

 

FISU President George E. Killian described the Innsbruck 2005 Winter Universiade as “extraordinary” and “one of the most successful in history.” High praise indeed for the 21st winter edition of the FISU World University Games!

 

seefeld wu2005What made it all the more impressive was that it was organised by a very youthful team, led by Secretary-General Markus Redl, who was only 26 years old in 2000 when the towns of Innsbruck and Seefeld won the bid to host the Universiade.

 

One of the most noticeable changes implemented by the local organisers was the amount of “nocturnals,” or competitions held at night. While it took some getting used to for the traditionalists in the ski events, snowboarders were already quite comfortable performing under the bright lights. The events turned out to be very well attended and equally well appreciated, forcing FISU to concede that sometimes new ideas can bring refreshing results.

 

Women’s ski jumping was added to the Universiade sports programme for the first time in Innsbruck as well, a full nine years ahead of its Olympic debut!

 

Once again indicating the growing popularity of university sport worldwide, a record 2,223 participants, including 1,449 athletes from 50 countries, descended on the towns of Innsbruck and Seefeld.

 

 

The undisputed stars of the 2005 Winter Universiade were quintuple medal-winning athletes Lucie Hrstkova (CZE) and Choi Eun-Kyung. Hrstkova made her mark in the Alpine ski events, winning the Super G, finishing second in the downhill and winning bronze in the slalom and giant slalom events – all good enough for the overall combined title. Hrstkova, who would appear at three Olympic Games during her career, was pushed every step of the way by newcomer Jelena Lolovic, a 23 year old from Serbia-Montenegro that pipped Hrstkova to the downhill title by 0.35 of a second, while finishing runner-up in both the giant slalom and Super G events.

 

Choi, meanwhile, was already a household name in short-track speedskating coming in to the 2005 Universiade. At just 20 years of age, Choi was the then world record holder in the 1,500m and 3,000m and was already an Olympic Champion and multiple World Champion. By far and away the favourite heading into Innsbruck-Seefeld, Choi would not disappoint, winning all five events she competed in – the 500m, 1,000m, 1,500m, 3,000m and 5,000m relay.

 

With such a commanding personal performance, it was no surprise to see Korea at the top of the medal haul for these Games. They finished with 23 medals overall, one more than the home team Austria, and two ahead of the ever-present Russians.