Three memories characterise the 1974 World Ski Championships
The introduction of the plastic ski, Hans-Erik Larsson´s lost ski at the start of the relay and Thomas Magnusson´s World Championship gold medal in the 30 km race. Three memorable events from the 1974 World Ski Championships in Falun.
On February 16-24, 1974 Falun hosted a World Ski Championships for the second time. The championships had great support among the locals.
The 1974 World Ski Championships were also a major motivation for the city of Falun to construct the Lugnet venue. In the spring of 1971, the construction of what would become one of northern Europe’s finest sports facilities began. It was at that point that the development of the upcoming World Championship arena with the ski stadium and the ski jumps started, as well as the construction of the large sports hall.
The World Championship weeks offered fairly mild weather, which made it problematic for the skiers to find the right waxing for their skis. If you didn’t have plastic skis, that is.
It was at the World Championships in Falun in 1974 that the plastic ski had its breakthrough. At this point in time, the wooden ski was otherwise the ski of choice.
But leading up to the championships, the Austrian ski brand Kneissl had developed a new cross-country ski, made from plastic. Thomas Magnusson, Sven-Åke Lundbäck and Hans-Erik Larsson were among the Swedish skiers who got hold of a pair.
The Norwegian Magne Myrmo made history for being the last world champion on a pair of wooden skis, when he won the 15 km race.
For Sweden, the entry of the plastic ski was both a success and a fiasco.
In the 30 km race, Thomas Magnusson became world champion with plastic skis under his feet. With only half an hour left to start, the Swede decided to put his usual wooden skis to the side and put on the new plastic skis.
This decision turned out to be worth its weight in gold in the warm and cloudy winter weather. The skis slid well in the tough conditions, and in the 30 km classic race, he was a full 53 seconds faster than the Finn Juha Mieto, who took care of the silver medal.
Thomas Magnusson also won a bronze medal in the concluding 50 km race, but then with his old-fashioned wooden skis under his feet. East German Gerhard Grimmer won.
In the relay, the Swedish team was designated as a gold favourite.
If the plastic skis were a success for Thomas Magnusson, they were something completely else for the Mora skier Hans-Erik Larsson, who was Sweden’s starter in the relay. The medal chances disappeared immediately.
Only 75 metres after the start, the binding came loose from one of the skis, and the crowd got to see the Mora skier, kicking with one leg, hurry back to the start to collect a new ski.
But after approximately 1,5 kilometres of skiing, the binding on the other ski came loose as well. Since only one change of skis was allowed, the Swedish team was disqualified.
The reason for the bindings coming loose was that they had been mounted with ordinary wooden screws, which do not adhere well to plastic.
The men´s relay was the competition that attracted the largest audience. 35 000 spectators had made their way to Lugnet to cheer for their gold favourites, but the crowd left with a memory for life instead. East Germany won the relay before the Soviets.
In total, the World Championships in Falun in 1974 attracted around 160 000 spectators.
The ski jumper Hans-Georg Aschenbach, from Leipzig in what was then East Germany, became the championship´s big profile when he won both in the big and the small jump.
A novelty in 1974 was also that the ladies´ relay was changed from 3 x 5 kilometres to 4 x 5 kilometres.