|News from the World of Skiing|
|News from the World of Skiing|
|Austrian ladies triumph at Reiteralm|
Photo: Agence Zoom
|Bode Miller (USA)|
Photo: Agence Zoom
At the ladies' Audi FIS Alpine World Cup at Reiteralm (AUT), the Austrian ladies continued their early season burst by sweeping the top four spots in Friday's World Cup super combined with Marlies Schild leading the way. The last time Austria's ladies won the top four places was in 1990 in a Vemdalen (SWE) slalom. On Saturday, Renate Goetschl posted her second straight super-G victory and the 40th World Cup win of her career. Her teammates filled six of the next seven spots as Martina Schild (SUI) prevented another Austrian domination of the podium, coming third for her first career World Cup podium.
On the men's tour, the organizers at Groeden/Val Gardena and Alta Badia (ITA) spared no efforts to stage the planned World Cup events there. Bode Miller (USA), winner of the Birds of Prey downhill at Beaver Creek, became the first skier on the men's circuit with two victories this season as he won the super-G on Friday. In Saturday's downhill on the famed and demanding Saslong course in Val Gardena, 24-year-old American Steven Nyman notched career win # 1 to compliment his first-ever podium two weeks ago at Beaver Creek. Until last weekend, no American had ever won in Val Gardena. In Alta Badia, a win in Sunday's giant slalom signified a mighty pay-back for Kalle Palander (FIN) after forty days of physical rehab in the summer after he tore knee ligaments in March. In Monday's slalom, Sweden's Markus Larsson prevailed on the Gran Risa course as Team USA extended its historic streak of the podiums to four straight men's races.
There have been eight different winners from nine countries in the twelve men's races this season so far as Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) continues to lead the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup standings. The powerhouse Austrian team has not won a race since Benjamin Raich took the season-opening slalom more than a month ago. This denotes the longest winless streak on the men's circuit for Austria since 1991-92. In Monday's slalom, no Austrians finished the race to score World Cup points for the first time since 1986 in Bromont (CAN).
The ladies' World Cup continues in Val d'Isere (FRA) where the organizing team - one of the World Cup's founding organizers 40 years ago - pulled out all stops to hold an event before Christmas. After the cancellation of the Criterium de la Premiere Neige Audi FIS Alpine World Cup men's event on 9th - 10th December, with the same fate befalling the ladies event the following weekend, the organizers could have been forgiven for giving up on this season, having planned a comprehensive entertainment program for both events including live bands. But Val d'Isre's affinity with the FIS Alpine World Cup stretches back to the very beginning and they continued to prepare the famous OK (Oreilly-Killy) slope and have been rewarded for their efforts with the only Downhill events in Europe before Christmas. Inspired by the successes of the American men's team, Julia Mancuso (USA) won her career-first World Cup race on Tuesday as American skiers took two of the top three places in a women's downhill. Another downhill is scheduled for today, this one a makeup from St. Moritz (SUI) that was cancelled due to lack of snow. Thursday, the ladies head into the holidays with a slalom, replacing the cancelled event in Megeve (FRA).
|Virpi Kuitunen (FIN) |
|Eldar Roenning (NOR) |
Cross-Country: Surprise World Cup leaders
La Clusaz (FRA) was the fifth stop on this season's Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country tour. Heroic efforts by the organizers to prepare the course made the third World Cup weekend there possible; including the season's first mass start races. Taking her third victory in a row, Virpi Kuitunen (FIN) grew her lead in the overall World Cup to 108 points ahead of Marit Bjoergen (NOR) who skipped this weekend to prepare for the Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski as of 29th December. Kuitunen also leads the distance World Cup while Bjoergen is the #1 in the sprint rankings. All in all, there are seven nationalities represented in the current Top Ten, including three Finns. In the ladies' Nations' Cup, Norway heads up the ranking ahead of Finland and Germany, who conquered the ladies' relay on Sunday.
In the men's mass start race, 2006 World Cup champion Tobias Angerer (GER) prevailed to take his first season victory. In Sunday's relay, the young Russian team dominated the race, winning by close to 1.5 minutes. In the overall World Cup standings, Eldar Roenning (NOR) - in the lead in all three rankings despite his 51st place on Saturday - now leads by 80 points ahead of teammate Tor Arne Hetland. Since there are six Norwegians in the Top 12 it is no wonder Norway currently has almost twice as many men's Nations' Cup points as 2nd-ranked Germany.
|Ammann, Jacobsen & Schlierenzauer|
Ski Jumping: Newcomers and veterans at the top
The e.on ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping continued in Engelberg (SUI) with the last two competitions before the 55th Four-Hills-Tournament which commences in Oberstdorf on 30th December. Taking the second victory in only his fourth World Cup start, 16-year-old Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT) was the measure of all things on Saturday. On Sunday, the newcomer Anders Jacobsen claimed the season's first win for Norway as 2006 FIS World Cup champion Jakub Janda took fifth - his best finish of the season. In the five World Cup competitions so far, all podium places have been shared by only seven athletes representing five nations. Despite defeat by Jacobsen in Engelberg, Switzerland's Simon Ammann remains in the lead in the overall rankings, with Schlierenzauer in 3rd and team mate Andreas Kuettel in 4th.
|Magnus Moan (NOR)|
Nordic Combined: Moan and Bieler alternating
The Ramsau am Dachstein (AUT) events in the Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined also marked the completion of the first competition period. After five individual events, the winner of Sunday's sprint race, Magnus Moan of Norway heads the overall standing, 13 points ahead of Christoph Bieler (AUT). Bieler, a 12 season World Cup veteran, won the season's first mass start event on Saturday, his second win after the career-first World Cup victory in his 115th World Cup start in Lillehammer (NOR) two weeks ago. The debutant of the season, France's Maxime Laheurte took his second podium in Saturday's mass start event. At present, there are five nations represented in the overall Top Ten. The dominator of the past three season, Finland's Hannu Manninen, is ranked 5th before the 14th Edition of the German Grand Prix that starts in Oberhof on 30th December, 2006.
|La Sgambeda winners|
Photo: Cometa Press
While much of Europe suffered through a late start to the winter, Livigno (ITA) was blanketed by snow early last week, just in time to host the 42km La Sgambeda, the opening stage of the FIS Marathon Cup. Over 1,200 racers took part in the first round of the FIS `popular' championship series.
Jerry Ahrlin (SWE) took the victory in the first of only three free-technique competitions in the race series, followed by Italian teammates Marco Fiorentini and Biagio Di Santo.. The Italian team also took advantage of the home course in the ladies' race, with Lara Peyrot taking the win. In a notable parallel to the men's competition, it was Jenny Hansson (SWE) - the fiance of the men's winner Ahrlin - who took the second place.
The FIS Marathon Cup continues on 14th January in the 2009 FIS Nordic World Ski Championship city of Liberec (CZE) with Jizersk Pades tka, a 50km classical technique competition. In its 40th season, the race expects to attract over 3,000 competitors.
|FIS Vice President Bill Marolt|
Over the next several weeks, we will feature a short interview with all the FIS Council Members. We commence the series with some questions and answers to FIS Vice President Bill Marolt (USA).
Q: There have been winners from nine different countries in the twelve races so far in the men's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup. Is skiing becoming more international?
A: We are all individual nations participating in a global sport. Each nation wants to have its own share of success. But we also need to recognize that more nations having success means a stronger sport internationally. It's important that we have champions and sport heroes from around the world to increase recognition. And we, as FIS, must market those heroes aggressively and consistently around the world.
Q:˙Great snow in North America, little to no snow in Europe. What does this mean to the sport of skiing?
A: We have pushed our World Cup scheduling to limits Mother Nature cannot support. We need to learn from this that it makes more sense for us to compact our overall schedule and focus on competing over a shorter time period and on continents that have the best snow conditions during each segment of the season. We should start later, opening in North America, moving to Europe when we are historically certain that we can run consistent events - no sooner.
As a FIS Council, we face some challenging decisions. How are we marketing our sport worldwide through the World Cup? What message do we send when we have a schedule we cannot manage? This is not a new problem, but it's one we have failed to address. We need a strong, consistent image of our sport. We do not present a consistent image with a calendar we cannot support.
Q:˙Next to American Football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey, skiing is a relatively small sport in the US. How do you compete and remain attractive there?
A: Action sports are popular in America in a much different way than stadium sports such as football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey. There is a great cultural appeal, especially for the actual participants in those sports. Our biggest challenge is the vast scope of our geography - we're one nation that spans a greater distance than all of Europe. We focus our marketing on reaching the active participants in our sport, with a greater focus on youth. We also have the unique situation of having to raise money from the American public, with over 80% of our budget coming from private donations and corporate sponsorship. We produce our own television and major events, allowing us to control our image to the American public through our own broadcasts on U.S. network TV, cable, satellite and broadband. Recreational participation continues to grow in America, and we've seen consistent membership increases for seven straight years. America is a very diverse country with sports like skiing and snowboarding having an important niche for today's youth.
Created in Lausanne in 1976 and held every two years after the Olympic Summer and Winter Games, the "Olympic Golden Rings' is a prestigious international competition in which the IOC seeks to promote and award excellence in Olympic Games television broadcasting. The "Olympic Golden Rings" for the XX Olympic Winter Games, Torino 2006 were awarded in gold, silver and bronze in four categories at an awards ceremony held in the Olympic Museum in Lausanne (SUI) on 12th December. This year, 27 films from various countries were submitted. The international jury presided by IOC Honorary President Juan Antonio Samaranch including FIS President Gian Franco Kasper selected as the Best Olympic Sports Production (Category I), reserved for the host broadcasting organizations, the production by SRG Switzerland for Alpine skiing - Men's downhill. Productions of FIS disciplines swept this category as the silver award went to the Finnish YLE for the Cross-Country Skiing productions and the bronze to Seven Network of Australia for its coverage of Freestyle moguls and aerials events.
The winner in Category II, The Best Olympic Feature, was NBC Olympics' "Opening Tease". The gold prize for the Best Athletes' Profile (Category III) went to NBC Olympics' "Profile of the Russian figure skater, Irina Slutskaya" while the Best Olympic Program (Category IV) was won by Seven Network Australia for its "Prime Time, XX Olympic Winter Games."
For a country that has little to no snow, Brazil has gained some impressive results in recent years including the best South American results in Snowboarding. The only representative from South America at the Olympic Winter Games in Turin was Isabel Clark Ribeiro, who had a brilliant 9th place in snowboardcross. Isabel is also the reigning South American Continental Cup champion and leader in the South American rankings in all disciplines. Another Brazilian rider, Mario Zulian Neto, won the men's overall title. Recently, alpine skier Nikolai Hentsch had the best results ever for a Brazilian in FIS points, scoring three times under 50 FIS points this winter.
Stefano Arnhold, President of the Brazilian Snow Sports Federation, noted: "Brazil is coordinating Snowboarding for South America in the FIS Snowboard Committee. We are also very involved in the development of Masters Skiing and Masters Snowboarding. The first-ever FIS Masters Alpine races in the Southern Hemisphere were organized by Brazil in 2002. It was Brazil, too, that brought the FIS Masters Cup to South America and implemented Masters Snowboard Racing. The first-ever Masters Snowboard races were held in the Brazilian Snowboard Championships last year in Las Le¤as (ARG)." He continued: "To further develop ski sports here, we have been hiring coaches and other staff from many different countries such as France, Canada, Norway, Chile, Switzerland and Italy. We are also working with biomechanics and biophysics laboratories to enhance the technical aspects of our sports."
During the Northern season, Brazil intends to participate in four FIS World Championships as well as in a World Criterium. It will send three riders to Arosa (SUI), three alpine skiers to Are (SWE), three Cross-Country skiers to Sapporo (JPN), a junior alpine skier to Zauchensee/Flachau (AUT) as well as three alpine masters skiers to Limone/Piemonte (ITA). Arnhold concludes:"We expect to break several records in terms of FIS Points - a concrete measurement of our development - through our participation in more than 50 events from the World Cup level down."
Madonna di Campiglio (ITA) will host the 2007 FIS Freestyle World Championships from 20th - 27th January. Certainly no newcomer to hosting world class sporting events, Madonna has been the venue for several Freestyle World Cups as well as for the 2001 FIS Snowboard World Championships and more than 55 FIS Alpine World Cups. The famous Canaloni Miramonte will be the site for the moguls and aerials competitions while half pipe and Freestyle ski cross will be staged on the FIS 3TRE slopes. The ski cross and half pipe events will be making their second appearance at Madonna after the first FIS World Champions were decorated in 2005. The finals for ski cross will take place on 23rd and those for half pipe on 24th January.
Madonna has been a winter sports tourist destination for over a century. The resort boasts over 50 ski lifts including the world's longest gondola, at a staggering 4.8km in length. The summit at Madonna di Campiglio is at an altitude of over 2500m, allowing a long descent to the village (1520m). The region offers visitors many options for winter sporting activities including - for the adventurous - ice climbing on local frozen waterfalls overlooking the valley.
The organizing committee for the 2007 FIS Freestyle World Championships has been diligent in its preparations to ensure that this event will work to benefit Freestyle Skiing worldwide. Olindo Cozzio, Organizing Committee President, commented: "For the first time, the FIS Freestyle World Championships will take place in Italy, with their spectacular performances and adrenaline effects. We are very happy to meet the new generation of champions. The majority of courses will be prepared with artificial snow. We are looking to be ready with venue preparation by early January. The new Congress Center in Madonna will provide an excellent facility for the international media and as well as for the opening and closing ceremonies. We are looking forward to excellent competitions and welcome all participating nations to our resort."
How to get there: To access Madonna di Campiglio by air, use either the Milan or Verona airport. By car from Milan follow the A4 towards Tangenziale Est (160km), take the exit towards Peschiera, and then follow the signs for the resort. From Verona, follow the A22 (Autostrada del Brennero) towards Brennero (70km), take the exit towards Mezzocorona, merge onto the SS43 (Strada Statale Del Tonale della Mendola) for 50km and follow the signs towards the resort.
The reigning 2005 World Champions from Ruka (FIN)
Moguls: Nathan Roberts (USA)
Dual moguls: Toby Dawson (USA)
Aerials: Steve Omischl (CAN)
Ski cross: Tomas Kraus (CZE)
Half pipe: Mathias Wecxsteen (FRA)
Moguls: Hannah Kearney (USA)
Dual moguls: Jennifer Heil (CAN)
Aerials: Nina Li (CHN)
Ski cross: Karin Huttary (AUT)
Half pipe: Sarah Burke (CAN)