News from the World of Skiing 

  Spectacular races end the alpine year ... more

  Great sport at New Year's Nordic events ... more

  More World Cup schedule changes ... more

 Council's Corner 

  Q&A with Yoshiro Ito ... more

 Inside FIS 

  Tragic death of Ivar Formo (NOR) ... more

  FIS Aid & Promotion Training Camp program underway ... more

 In Depth 

  One Month to go: re 2007 ... more

 News from the World of Skiing 

Spectacular races end the alpine year
Michael Walchofer
Photo: Agence Zoom
Therese Borssen (SWE)
Photo: Agence Zoom

The men's FIS Audi Alpine World Cup in Bormio (ITA) saw two spectacular downhill races -the first one as a replacement for the event cancelled in Val d'IsŠre˙-˙that took place in perfect conditions on the classic Stelvio course. And reigning FIS Downhill World Cup champion, Michael Walchofer gave the Austrian team a timely boost going into the New Year with hard-fought victories on both days. In so doing, he became the first man to twice win back-to-back downhill races after achieving the same feat in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 2005. Team mate Mario Scheiber managed a pair of third places, with Didier Cuche (SUI), the leader of the 2006/2007 FIS Audi Alpine World Cup Downhill standings, finishing as runner-up on the 28th December by the smallest possible margin of one hundredth of a second. Peter Fill (ITA) gave the home crowd something to really cheer about by finishing second on 29th December, underlining his credentials as a force to be reckoned with in the overall World Cup standings. The leader of the overall standings after 16 of 39 races going into 2007 remains Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR), as has been the case for most of the season, who posted a strong 6th place in the second race in Bormio.

The ladies' FIS Audi Alpine World Cup visited Semmering (AUT), located only 60kms from the capital city Vienna. Tough conditions tested the top athletes in the world, with the late arrival of a cold spell to enable the production of sufficient artificial snow, coupled with the touristical demands over the Christmas holidays, hampering preparations. Thursday's giant slalom saw Austria's all-conquering technical team claim the entire podium, for the second time this season, with Kathrin Zettel coming out on top ahead of Nicole Hosp and Marlies Schild. Friday's slalom wittnessed a first for the this season, with Marlies Schild failing to win the race after a big mistake on the second run, after leading the first run, relegating her to third position. Therese Borssen (SWE) recorded her maiden victory, with Kathrin Zettel in second, delighting her huge following from Upper Austria (Nieder”sterreich) that included Austrian ski legend Michaela Dorfmeister. Marlies Schild heads into the New Year as leader of the FIS Audi Alpine World Cup with 14 of 37 races successfully completed.


Great sport at New Year's Nordic events
Kristin Steira (NOR)
Photo: NordicFocus
Team Finland
Photo: NordicFocus

Surprises have dominated the inaugural Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski. At the half-way point, after the first three Stages have been held in Munich and Oberstdorf (GER), there have been three different leaders on the men's side and two in the ladies'. For the ladies, both the golden bib - designating the leader in the overall Tour Rankings - as well as the silver bib - denoting the leader in the Tour sprint rankings - are in Norwegian hands. Somewhat surprisingly, Kristin Steira will wear the golden bib as the Tour moves to Italy. Steira garnered the bib from her team mate Marit Bjoergen after a stunning performance in Tuesday's double pursuit race and then held on to it with another strong race in the individual start classical technique competition on Wednesday.

In the men's competition, the golden jersey at mid-way is worn by Germany's Tobias Angerer based on a strong race on Wednesday where he finished third behind two of his team mates, Franz Goering and Rene Sommerfeldt. The first-ever wearer of the golden bib was Switzerland's Christoph Eigenmann who surprised himself and a few others by storming to victory in the opening sprint at Munich Olympic Stadium. A 12th place finish in the double pursuit on Tuesday was enough for a new name all-rounder from Norway, Simon Oestensen, to gain the golden bib after two races. The silver bib continues to be held by Devon Kershaw of Canada. A few favourites, including Axel Teichmann (GER), Kristina Smigun (EST) and Odd Bjoern Hjelmeset (NOR) have already been forced to give up on the Tour due to illness.

Seen by 43,000 spectators so far, the 55th edition of the Jack Wolfskin Four-Hills-Tournament is controlled by the two youngsters that have so far dominated the season: At half-way point, the 2006 Junior World Champion Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT) is in the lead, 17.6 points ahead of Anders Jacobsen of Norway. The Austrian also leads in the e.on ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping overall rankings with 460 points, followed by Jacobsen (441). Andreas Kuettel (SUI), winner of the traditional New Year's competition in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER), became the second Swiss and the last-ever winner on the famous "Olympiaschanze" as the 55-year-old construction will be demolished in February. A new, modern hill facility will be available already for next year's Tournament. In the opening competition in Oberstdorf (GER), 16-year-old Schlierenzauer claimed the top of the podium right in his first participation in the Tournament, landing at a stunning 142 meters in his last jump.

In the first competition of the Warsteiner German Grand Prix Nordic Combined, three-time defending World Cup champion Hannu Manninen claimed his first victory of the season at Ruhpolding's 15-km Gundersen on Saturday. Manninen beat home-favorites Sebastian Haseney and Ronny Ackermann in a fight to the line. The victory moves the Finn from fifth to third in the World Cup standings behind World Cup leader Christoph Bieler and Norway's Magnus Moan. Ruhpolding was a replacement venue for races that were originally scheduled for Oberhof, but were cancelled due to lack of snow and warm temperatures. In the second competition, a team sprint, the Finns continued along the same lines, confirming their victory with a supreme performance in the skiing part. With two victories, Hannu Manninen leads the Grand Prix rankings ahead of Sebastian Haseney (GER).


More World Cup schedule changes

The mild winter weather around Europe continues to challenge the FIS World Cup organizers. Among the changes, the Nordic Combined competition as part of the Warsteiner Grand Prix Germany that was scheduled to be held in Schonach (GER) on 6th January had to be relocated to Oberstdorf with the same program on the original date. Special thanks go to the local organizing committee there for stepping in as a substitute host despite an already heavy program of FIS World Cup competitions, including the opening Ski Jumping competition of the Four-Hills-Tournament, two Stages of the inaugural Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski and the upcoming Ski Flying World Cup weekend.

While the ladies' Audi FIS Alpine World Cup night slalom will take place as scheduled in Zagreb (CRO), the planned races in Maribor (SLO) had to be moved to Kranska Gora (SLO) and will be staged with the original program. The men's events in Adelboden (SUI) will take place as planned, as will the Lauberhorn-races in Wengen from 12th - 14th January and the ladies' downhill, super combined and slalom competitions in Zauchensee (AUT).

The Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup snowboardcross competitions scheduled in Bad Gastein for 8th - 9th January had to be cancelled due to lack of snow and will not be replaced. At the same time, the Freestyle FIS World Cup is continuing according to the plan in Canada.


 Council's Corner 

Q&A with Yoshiro Ito
Yoshiro Ito (JPN)

This week we feature some questions and answers to FIS Vice President Yoshiro Ito (JPN).

Q. Sapporo (JPN) is about to host the first-ever FIS Nordic World Ski Championships there in late February, in fact the first official FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Asia. Are you pleased with the preparations there and how important is this event to Japanese skiing?

A. The FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Sapporo in February will provide great excitement to the entire world of ski enthusiasts and will be a great opportunity to show the best from the world of Nordic skiing for people in Asia, in Japan and, of course, in Sapporo. I have had the honor to lead the preparations for these championships in Sapporo, we are well-prepared and pleased to welcome all ski friends to Sapporo for this occasion.

Q. How do you view the future of skiing in Asia?

A. I am convinced that the upcoming World Ski Championships in Sapporo will help us win many new skiing fans among the Asian people. Asian countries are still less developed in skiing, and therefore, the publicity for our event together with the fascinating sporting performances will do wonders to promote skiing across Asia.


 Inside FIS 

Tragic death of Ivar Formo (NOR)
Ivar Formo

FIS sends its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Ivar Formo who died in a tragic accident in Nordmarka (NOR) Wednesday. Mr. Formo, a great friend and colleague to many in the FIS family, was an Olympic Champion in Cross-Country Skiing (50 km Innsbruck 1976) and many-time medalist in the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships as well as in orienteering. He served as Chairman of the FIS Cross-Country Committee from 1983 to 1988.


FIS Aid & Promotion Training Camp program underway

Several training camps staged under the umbrella of˙the FIS Aid & Promotion program will be taking place in the next several weeks. The second period of the Alpine Training Camp, coordinated by Markus Malsiner, finished before the Holidays. The third period, lasting for some two weeks, is scheduled to begin on 9th January 2007 in Innsbruck.

The FIS Aid & Promotion Cross-Country training camp will be taking place as of 5th January in Liberec (CZE), and continue until 21st January.

Due to the difficult snow situation, the FIS Alpine/SBX Snowboard Camp has been rescheduled to take place in mid-February in Sulden (ITA). The planned half-pipe Camp has been moved to Bardonecchia (ITA) and will be held from 4th to 11th February 2007 under the coordination of Alex Andreis.


 In Depth 

One Month to go: re 2007

In just a month's time, from 4th - 17th February, the highly anticipated 2007 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships will take place in the majestic setting of re, Sweden. The resort has hosted a variety of major winter sports events before, including the Alpine World Championships in˙1954 and many FIS Alpine World Cup events, including several finals. In February, a total 33 FIS Championship medals will be awarded in five ladies and five men's events as well as in the co-ed nations' team event that debuted in the previous FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Bormio (ITA) in 2005. New to this year's program is the super combined event that will replace the traditional combined format. Also for the first time, there will be a qualification for the men's giant slalom: while the best 50 registered athletes are pre-qualified, the others will race in the qualification for the remaining 25 starting places.

re is one of Sweden's premiere resorts with an extensive infrastructure. With the summit of the highest peak (reskutan) reaching well over 1,420m, it allows for wonderful views and a maximum vertical descent of 890m. While the World Championships are taking place, the town of re will be transformed into an international festival celebrating alpine skiing and the winter sports spirit. The center of town will have the Awards Plaza as well as a big screen so that spectators can watch all the action even if they're not slope side for the live competitions. Each weekend during the World Championships re will host an international freestyle competition in such events as slopestyle or moguls skiing. Moreover, there will be international motocross competitions followed by "skiing in the seventies" themed activities. Ski industry representatives will also be on hand with new merchandise, and provide an opportunity for testing the latest equipment on the market. Fashion shows around the resort will showcase new lines of winter clothing. Naturally, the local bars and nightclubs have planned an extensive program of live music as well as special performances during the World Championships.

Lasse Lindqvist, the head of the Organizing Committee, commented: "We are now entering the very final phase of preparations, all is looking good and we are excited to welcome the world of skiing in Are in just a month's time. Based on the initial registrations, more than 350 athletes from 63 nations will be competing here in February, along with team staff, officials, media and other accredited participants. The new year 2007 started well for us, bringing cold weather and snowfall. On Monday, we will begin to put up the safety nets (a total of 40 km), exactly according to the plan."

re has implemented a great deal of new infrastructure in preparation for the World Championships. The finish area has been greatly improved, having been recently renovated to enlarge the area to allow spectators to catch every second of the action. A new 130m road tunnel has been constructed in order to allow for other facilities to be erected. Lastly, the finish area infrastructure has been upgraded as a whole allowing new timing facilities to be built, as well as new housing structure for the event announcer.

How to get there: re can be accessed via air, car, and train. ™stersund Airport is the closest airport to re, and from there one can either drive or take a bus to reach re. By car from ™stersund Airport follow the E14 Autoroute towards re for approximately 90km and then follow the signs for re There are daily trains that run from Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malm” to the central station in re.

The reigning 2005 World Champions from Bormio (ITA)

Slalom: Benjamin Raich (AUT)
Giant slalom: Hermann Maier (AUT)
Super-G: Bode Miller (USA)
Downhill: Bode Miller (USA)
Combined: Benjamin Raich (AUT)

Slalom: Janica Kostelic (CRO)
Giant slalom: Anja Paerson (SWE)
Super-G: Anja Paerson (SWE)
Downhill: Janica Kostelic (CRO)
Combined: Janica Kostelic (CRO)

Team event: Germany