News from the World of Skiing 

  Stellar World Cup action before the Holidays ... more

  Inaugural Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski starts in Munich - 6 competitions in 8 days ... more

  55th Jack Wolfskin Four-Hills-Tournament: Fearless youth challenge old hands ... more

  14th Warsteiner German Grand Prix: Furious fight for podium continues ... more


 Council's Corner 

  Q&A with FIS Vice President Carl-Eric St†lberg (SWE) ... more


 Inside FIS 

  Warsteiner launches new Young Talent Award ... more


 Member News 

  Oskar Fischer named honorary citizen of Oberstdorf ... more


 In Depth 

  Voices of New Chairmen

Ken Read, new Chair of Coordination Group for Children and Youth's Questions ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

Stellar World Cup action before the Holidays
Mancuso & Kildow (USA)
Photo: Agence Zoom
Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR)
Photo: Agence Zoom

At the ladies' last Audi FIS Alpine World Cup races in Val d'Isere (FRA) before Christmas, Lindsey Kildow (USA; downhill) and Marlies Schild (AUT; slalom) claimed the victories. Kildow, who won her second race of the season, increased her lead atop the World Cup downhill standings. With Tuesday's winner Julia Mancuso in 2nd, USA took two podium places for a second straight day on the technical Oreiller-Killy course. On Thursday, Marlies Schild won her third straight World Cup slalom, though for the first time this season, she was not the fastest in both runs. The fastest second run was clocked by Veronika Zuzulova (SVK) who ended up in 5th. Germany's 31-year-old Annemarie Gerg realized her first career podium ranking 2nd. With her win, Schild also moved into the lead in the overall standings with 477 points, followed by her teammates Nicole Hosp and Renate Goetschl.

At Hinterstoder (AUT), Bode Miller won his third World Cup race this season by taking the super-G. Behind Miller, Peter Fill of Italy equaled his best career World Cup result in 2nd place while Hermann Maier placed third on home snow for his first podium this season. In the last World Cup competition before the Holidays,˙Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) - who won the the giant slalom in Hinterstoder - became the second man this season to win more than one World Cup event. In heavy fog, he edged Canadian Francois Bourque off the top step of the podium and regained the lead in the overall standings from Bode Miller. Svindal now has World Cup wins in downhill, super-G, giant slalom and combined and is missing only a victory in the slalom to accomplish the Alpine grand slam.

Prize Money rankings, Audi FIS Alpine World Cup as of 22nd Dec (in CHF):
Men
1. Bode Miller (USA) 145 685
2. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) 120 399
3. Didier Cuche (SUI) 77 791
4. Kalle Palander (FIN) 75 736
5. Markus Larsson (SWE) 64 953

Ladies
1. Marlies Schild (AUT) 159 000
2. Lindsey Kildow (USA) 120 000
3. Renate G”tschl (AUT) 118 000
4. Kathrin Zettel (AUT) 101 000
5. Nicole Hosp (AUT) 90 000

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Krings, Tudigescheva, Neururer

Bad Gastein (AUT) hosted the season's second parallel slalom in the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup and saw two debut victories. 19-year-old Ekatarina Tudigescheva (RUS) prevailed in the ladies' first event while Siegfried Grabner took the first-ever parallel World Cup victory for Austria. In the second parallel slalom on Thursday, Doresia Krings (AUT) improved her second place rank from the previous day to claim gold as well as the lead in the World Cup rankings. In the men's competition, Olympic Silver medallist Simon Schoch (SUI) secured his season's second victory by succeeding against team mate Roland Haldi. Schoch also leads the parallel World Cup rankings.

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Inaugural Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski starts in Munich - 6 competitions in 8 days

The inaugural edition of the Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski performance by Craft Sportswear will now start in Munich (GER) on 31st December and continue as planned in Oberstdorf (GER), Asiago (ITA) and Val di Fiemme (ITA). Despite enormous efforts by the local organizing committee, the first two Stages at Nove Mesto na Morave (CZE), planned for 29th and 30th of December, had to be cancelled due to lack of snow.

The athletes will have optimal conditions for the opening Stage and the premiere of the Viessmann FIS Cross-Country World Cup at the world-famous Olympic Stadium in Munich. The snow situation at the other Tour venues looks positive, too. Almost 170 athletes (65 ladies and more than 90 men) representing 22 nations have been registered for the Tour, including all the World Cup leaders. On the ladies' side, Marit Bjoergen (NOR) skipped the pre-Christmas World Cups to prepare for the Tour, one of her main season goals. Katarina Neumannova (CZE) has set her eyes on the overall World Cup crystal globe this year and will surely be someone to reckon with, as will be current World Cup leader Virpi Kuitunen (FIN) and the 2006 double Olympic Champion from Turin, Estonia's Kristina Smigun, just to mention a few. For the men, the possible winners are too many to count. The Norwegian team, led by current World Cup leader Eldar Roenning, is bound to be strong, as will be the young Russian team including Olympic champion Eugeni Dementiev. Last year's World Cup champion Tobias Angerer (GER) seems to be getting in shape right in time for the Tour, too. But one should not forget Vincent Vittoz (FRA), Anders Soedergren (SWE), Pietro Piller Cottrer (ITA), amongst others. The final decision of the first Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski performance by Craft Sportswear will fall on the Summit of Cross-Country, at the top of the Final Climb on Alpe Cermis on Sunday, 7th January.

Due to the cancellation of the first two Tour Stages in the Czech Republic, the Tour prize money was reduced by 25%. The total FIS Tour de Ski 2006/2007 prize money will now amount to CHF 750'000. Concerning FIS World Cup points, the Cross-Country Committee decided that no rule changes were necessary. As planned, the winners of the overall Tour Ranking will be awarded 400 World Cup points i.e. four times the points in a normal World Cup race. However, there will be no World Cup points for any single competition as part of the Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski.

Contributed by Sandra Spitz

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55th Jack Wolfskin Four-Hills-Tournament: Fearless youth challenge old hands
Olympiaschanze in Garmisch (GER)

The 55th Jack Wolfskin Four-Hills-Tournament, which starts on 30th December in Oberstdorf (GER), promises to be exciting. The current World Cup leader is Simon Ammann, the 25-year old double 2002 Olympic Champion from Salt Lake City. But right on his heels follow Anders Jacobsen (21; NOR) and 2006 Junior World Champion Gregor Schlierenzauer (16; AUT), two younger athletes who only emerged on the top of the podium this season. These two `young wild things' and Kuusamo winner Arttu Lappi (FIN) are among those who are going to challenge Ammann and last year's ex-aequo tournament winners Janne Ahonen (FIN) and Jakub Janda (CZE). But there are others who could claim the podium at this traditional event: Adam Malysz (POL), Thomas Morgenstern (AUT), the double Olympic Champion of Torino 2006, or Andreas Kuettel (SUI), 4th both in last year's tournament and in the current World Cup ranking.

Ammann and Kuettel have a chance to bring home the first-ever overall victory for Switzerland, and to overtrump Walter Steiner, this year's honorary guest, and Hans Schmid. Those two were 2nd and 4th in 1973/1974. No chance for Schlierenzauer to be the youngest-ever tournament winner however, as he celebrates his 17th birthday on 7th January when the final competition in Bischofshofen takes place. In 1992, Toni Nieminen became the youngest winner so far at the age of 16 years and 7 months.

As usual the tournament will be organized using the Knock-Out system. In the qualification round, the athletes fight for start positions in the first round. Then the first round is contested by 25 pairs of jumpers. The 25 winners and the 5 lucky losers will reach the final round.

The New Year's competition in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER) will be staged as a farewell celebration for the old hill, the so-called ,Olympiaschanze", which will be torn down afterwards. Already next year, on 1st January 2008, the athletes will compete on the new hill.

Contributed by Kurt Henauer

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14th Warsteiner German Grand Prix: Furious fight for podium continues
Moan on top of podium in Ramsau (AUT)
Photo: NordicFocus

Is it really wintertime? Many people asked themselves this question while watching the first World Cups last month. After having mixed up the Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined calendar slightly in the first period, the "winter" continues to spell challenge: The first stop of the annual Warsteiner Grand Prix Germany scheduled for 30th December in Oberhof had to be cancelled due to lack of snow. The competition is now rescheduled for the same day in Ruhpolding, the venue which will also host the second stop of the Grand Prix, the so-called "Ruhpoldinger B„r", on 3rd January. The third stop in Schonach is planned for 6th January. This would be the 41st competition for the "Schwarzwaldpokal" in the home town of 2006 Olympic Champion Georg Hettich (GER). Hannu Manninen (FIN) will be hunting for his third victory in a row there, which would make him the first athlete to take home the famous "Schwarzwaldpokal". But just as we saw during the first winter period, the fight for podium places and the yellow bib is likely to continue to be furious. Some five athletes are about to seriously challenge Magnus Moan (NOR), the current leader of the overall World Cup, with another five close behind.

As before, the top six athletes in the Grand Prix rankings will be awarded an additional _25,000 in prize money. However, only those who participate in all three competitions will be ranked in the Grand Prix standing. This year's schedule also includes a team sprint competition in Ruhpolding on 3rd January. The points from this will be adjusted for the individual Grand Prix ranking.

Contributed by Christina Fritz

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 Council's Corner 

Q&A with FIS Vice President Carl-Eric St†lberg (SWE)
Carl-Eric St†lberg (SWE)

This week we feature some questions and answers to FIS Vice President Carl-Eric St†lberg (SWE).

Q. re (SWE) is about to host its 2nd FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, the first ones in over 50 years. How do you view the preparations there and how important is this event to Swedish skiing?
A. I am very pleased with the preparations for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in re in February, an opinion that was shared by the FIS representatives at the final inspection. To be an organizer of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships is very important for Sweden as it enables us to globally market Sweden as an alpine country and, of course, to promote alpine skiing in Sweden.

Q. How do you balance the interests of the different disciplines in a traditionally Cross-Country-oriented country that now has a very successful Alpine team as well?
A. We have no problems to balance the interests of the different disciplines within the Swedish Ski Association. Sweden is of course traditionally strong in Cross-Country Skiing but over many, many years we have had a large number of Alpine skiers and since the Ingemar Stenmark era, many world-class alpine skiers within different periods. From a recreational point of view, the Swedes practice alpine skiing as much as cross country.

Q. There is little snow even in the North of Europe at present. Are you concerned about this and what does this mean to the sport of skiing?
A. There is a lack of snow in Europe at present but only last year the situation was exactly the opposite. I think the current situation is due to weather conditions and not to climate changes. However, this does not mean that we, over time, would not have climate change as well, a development that can become a problem for ski sports in the long-term.

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 Inside FIS 

Warsteiner launches new Young Talent Award

Warsteiner Brewery, a long-time FIS Partner and Title Sponsor of the FIS World Cup Nordic Combined, has launched a new Young Talent Award to promote the emergence of new champions. The first Young Talent Award, consisting of a unique Tulip-formed trophy and a cash prize of _1'000, will be presented to the best-ranked athlete born in 1985 or later in the first competition as part of the Warsteiner Grand Prix Germany for Nordic Combined to be held in Ruhpolding (GER) on 30th December. Additional Young Talent Awards will be handed over at all FIS World Cup events held in Germany, other than the Four-Hills-Tournament. "We warmly welcome this new initiative by Warsteiner Brewery to support the development of a new generation with both a special honor and a tangible reward. I am sure that this prize will spawn new motivation in many younger athletes to reach the top," commented Uli Wehling, FIS Race Director Nordic Combined.

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 Member News 

Oskar Fischer named honorary citizen of Oberstdorf
Oskar Fischer (GER)

On 22nd December 2006, Oskar Fischer was named an honorary citizen of his home town Oberstdorf (GER) during the Town Council's Christmas dinner which took place in Tiefenbach. In presenting the award, the mayor of Oberstdorf, Thomas Mller spoke of Oskar's tremendous commitment to the community of Oberstdorf, as a member of the town council for more than 22 years as well as his untiring work in promoting the town during his numerous international engagements as Chairman of the FIS Alpine Continental Cup Sub-Committee, and as a FIS Alpine Technical Delegate with assignments including the FIS World Championships and the Olympic Winter Games. Former Secretary General, Helmut Weinbuch spoke of behalf of the German Ski Association and Sarah Lewis, FIS Secretary General, acknowledged Oskar Fischer's commitment to international activities.

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 In Depth 

Voices of New Chairmen
Ken Read (CAN)

Ken Read, new Chair of Coordination Group for Children and Youth's Questions

At its November meeting, the FIS Council appointed additional FIS Committee members for the current 2006-2008 period, including the Chairmen and members of the discipline-specific Sub-committees for Children and Youth's Questions. Ken Read, CEO of Alpine Canada and new Chairman of the Sub-committee for Children and Youth's Questions in Alpine Skiing as well as Chair of the newly-established Coordination Group for the four Sub-Committees provided us with some of his initial thoughts for his new role.

"I'm very pleased to see the FIS Council support discipline-specific Youth & Children committees. In my view, it is important that we keep current with the developments in our sport, that we provide the very best opportunities for children and parents to participate and that we build a solid base for the future. Investing in youth is crucial for our sport. They are our future champions and we want to ensure we are the winter sport of choice.

While we need to coordinate information and growth strategies across the disciplines, it is as important to work with discipline-specific experts in the National Ski Associations and use this expertise to bring cross-discipline strategies to the FIS Council. To this end, I look forward to working with the other chairs Satu Kalajainen (FIN; Cross-Country), Polly-Jo Clark (USA; Freestyle/Snowboard) and Harald Heim (AUT; Ski Jumping) in the Coordination Group, as well as with all the other Committee members, many of whom I already know and have worked with.

The previous committee for Youth and Children's Questions had undertaken some very good work. I would like to acknowledge the contributions of former Chair Harald Schoenhaar and thank him for his engagement in the past several years.

While I know the sub-committee members will come forward with a variety of themes, those that are on my agenda include:

The current framework for athlete development from entry level through K1 and K2 is good - we have to work with the National Ski Associations to ensure the athletes get good coaching and build a solid athletic base. However, from the J1 or FIS level, many challenges appear and other important influences such as education must be considered. As athletes move into the adult level, we must deploy strategies to keep not just our best, but as many as possible to keep our programs robust.

As a retired ski racer, I have a familiarity with the issues our sub-committee will address. I also recognize that today's ski racing requires expertise in the field, which is why we need to have knowledgeable leaders within the committee. As parents of three ski racing children, my wife and I have a good `window' on the youth & children world, which I hope can assist these experts. We know first hand the equipment issues, supporting coaches and the need to positively encourage parents to support their children to take up and maintain their involvement in our sport. We also appreciate the remarkable commitment of so many parents to support their children through e.g. running races and the reward parent and child get from this involvement in our sport.

Snow sports have so much to offer youth and children, worldwide. If the base of our sport is strong, we can be confident of the future of our sport."

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