|News from the World of Skiing|
|News from the World of Skiing|
|Kuitunen & Angerer|
Photo: Aapo Laiho
Kuitunen and Angerer crowned at the first Tour de Ski
The first edition of the Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski ended on Sunday after six exciting competitions in eight days. In the ladies' competition, Virpi Kuitunen (FIN) - the World Cup leader - had ensured herself a safe 1.5 min lead before the Final Climb following impressive victories in the free technique sprint in Asiago - despite a broken pole in the semi-final - and the mass start race in the classical technique in Val di Fiemme (both ITA). There was no sign of a reappearance of the back pain that had plagued her in La Clusaz (FRA), and so Kuitunen could concentrate on maintaining her rhythm in the much-feared last hill that featured an altitude gain of 407m. She finished on Alpe Cermis clearly ahead of her biggest challenger Marit Bjoergen in 2nd place, and Valentina Shevschenko (UKR), who posted the third fastest Stage time in the Final Climb and sprinted to the podium narrowly ahead of Aino Kaisa Saarinen Kuitunen (FIN). Winning both the Tour Overall Ranking as well as the Tour Sprint Ranking, Kuitunen earned a total of CHF 132'000 and 400 World Cup points for her supreme performances during the inaugural Tour de Ski. She now leads the Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country 188 points ahead of Bjoergen (634) and 356 points ahead of Petra Majdic (SLO).
In the men's competition, consistency rather than Stage victories paid out for last year's FIS Overall World Cup champion Tobias Angerer (GER). Angerer had garnered the Tour leader's golden jersey after the third Tour Stage in Oberstdorf and hung onto it with a 12th place finish in Asiago and a 5th place finish in Saturday's distance race in Val di Fiemme. He started out on the last Stage with a 15 second lead on the Norwegian newcomer, Simen Oestensen (NOR) and showed his mental strength in the Final Climb where he grew his winning margin to 46 seconds. In the end, Oestensen had to give in to young Alexander Legkov (RUS) who finished 2nd in the last Stage and improved from 10th place to 2nd in the overall Rankings. The winner of the men's Tour Sprint Ranking (silver jersey), Tor Arne Hetland (NOR), finished fifth overall, behind team mate Petter Northug. With his 602 points, Angerer also took the lead in the overall World Cup standings ahead of Legkov (467) and Hetland (432), in addition to earning CHF 116 500 from the Tour.
|Anders Jacobsen (NOR)|
Four-Hills to newcomer Jacobsen
The season's newcomer Anders Jacobsen (NOR), who debuted in the e.on ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping in Kuusamo (FIN) in November, became only the seventh jumper to win the Jack Wolfskin Four-Hills-Tournament at their first attempt. 15 years after Toni Nieminen (FIN) performed the same feat in 1992, 21-year-old Jacobsen emerged 17.3 points ahead of another youngster, Gregor Schlierenzauer of Austria. Witnessed by a spectacular 86'000 on-site spectators in the course of the entire tournament, the 55th edition of the event enjoyed an exciting finale in Bischofshofen (AUT). In the second round, Schlierenzauer and Jacobsen took turns to attack the hill record of 143m. Coming back after a disappointing 11th place on his home hill in Innsbruck, Schlierenzauer finally triumphed on his 17th birthday, 2.8 points ahead of the Norwegian, even though Jacobsen missed the hill record by just one meter in his last jump. Simon Ammann finished third, both in the final competition in Bischofshofen as in the overall tournament rankings. He thereby became only the third Swiss jumper to finish in the top three in the final standings of the traditional tournament. In the e.on ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping standings, the same names dominate as Jacobsen now leads with 621 points, ahead of Schlierenzauer (584) and Ammann (538).
|Hannu Manninen (FIN) |
Manninen comeback at the Grand Prix Germany
Originally planned to include competitions in Oberhof, Ruhpolding and Schonach, the Warsteiner Grand Prix Germany 2006-07 had to be rescheduled to consist of two events in Ruhpolding (one as a replacement for Oberhof) and one event in Oberstdorf (for Schonach). Even so, the weather continued to wreak havoc with the schedule: because of heavy snowfall and changing wind conditions, the team sprint had to be completed with only one jumping round.
After two individual competitions and the team sprint, the winner of this year`s tournament was clear: Hannu Manninen (FIN) was happy to claim the extra _5'000 in prize money for the victory in the overall Warsteiner Grand Prix rankings. He won the individual Gundersen competition in Ruhpolding and together with his teammate Anssi Koivuranta also the team sprint there; in Oberstdorf he finished 2nd. Sebastian Haseney (GER), claiming 2nd in both competitions in Ruhpolding (in team sprint, together with teammate Ronny Ackermann) and 3rd in Oberstdorf finished 2nd in the Grand Prix rankings while Felix Gottwald, the winner of the last competition in Oberstdorf was 3rd.
The yellow bib denoting the Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined leader changed from Magnus Moan (NOR) to Christoph Bieler (AUT) in Ruhpolding and finally to Hannu Manninen in Oberstdorf. Manninen is now wearing the yellow bib for the first time this season after having carried it most of the time in the last three seasons.
Anssi Koivuranta (FIN) won the Warsteiner Young Talent Award twice in Ruhpolding while it was Petter Tande (NOR) who claimed the _1'000 cash prize in Oberstdorf.
Contributed by Christina Fritz
|Marc Berthod (SUI)|
Photo: Agence Zoom
|Jacqui Cooper (AUS)|
Photo: Mike Ridewood
The men's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup continued with the traditional Adelboden (SUI) races last weekend. On Saturday, Benni Raich (AUT) became only the fifth racer in the 50-year history of the Adelboden giant slalom to take a second consecutive victory. It was his 25th World Cup victory - 14 of which have come in January - taken with a stunning 0.85 seconds margin on the infamous Chuenisbrgli course. Behind Raich, there were racers from eight nations in the top twelve. On Sunday, after 103 winless races and 1073 days it was finally time for another Swiss victory, brought home by young talent, former slalom Junior World Champion Marc Berthod who won the slalom with starting number 60. After the first run, Berthod had ranked 27th, 2.76 seconds behind the leader Markus Larsson of Sweden. The organizers in Adelboden had another reason for joy, too: with a total of 31'000 spectators over the weekend, the event set an all-time spectator record. In the overall World Cup rankings, Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) maintained his lead, now 68 points ahead of Didier Cuche (SUI).
In the Snow Queen night slalom in Zagreb (CRO) last Thursday, Marlies Schild (AUT) took her fourth win of the season, this time with the largest winning margin of 1.66 seconds. Benefiting from the largest prize money pot in the ladies' schedule, she netted _60'000 for the victory. The 18'000-strong audience was more than pleased to see 20-year-old local talent Ana Jelusic achieve her maiden podium place as runner-up, followed by another podium newcomer Sarka Zahrobska (CZE) in 3rd. As the ladies' Audi FIS Alpine World Cup circuit continued in Kranjska Gora (SLO), a substitute venue for Maribor (SLO), Schild carried on with her domination of the slalom cup. She was again accompanied on the podium by Sarka Zahrobska (CZE). After five wins, a 3rd place and fastest times in nine of the twelve runs, Schild now leads the event ranking by 268 points, with only three races to go. In Saturday's giant slalom, Nicole Hosp finally took her first season win, after four 2nd places in three different events, becoming yet another Austrian lady to claim the top of the podium this season. After 16 of 35 races, Schild also leads the overall FIS World Cup rankings, 97 points ahead of Hosp.
The Freestyle FIS World Cup continued with the Canada Post Freestyle Grand Prix at Ski Mont Gabriel (CAN) last weekend. Dale Begg-Smith, 2006 Olympic champion and Canadian native who competes for Australia, took the victory in the first moguls' event this season, after two December events in Europe were cancelled due to poor weather conditions. In the ladies' competition, Shannon Bahrke (USA) did not let the foggy, warm and mushy snow conditions disturb her in taking the sixth World Cup victory of her career.
On Sunday, it was the best of days for Canadian aerialists as warm weather and minimal snow threatened to cancel the aerials competitions. In the men's one-round event, Team Canada took the first two podium places with Cord Spero claiming the victory and his close friend Ryan Blais emerging in second place. Steve Omischl placed fifth and gained the yellow bib as the leader in the men's overall aerials standings. In the ladies' aerials final, Jacqui Cooper of Australia took a runaway win ahead of Manuella Mueller (SUI). Cooper posted the highest women's one-jump score in history, of 116.64 and now owns the four highest one-jump scores ever. Once unbeatable in the sport, Cooper has battled back from debilitating injury in 2002.
The Freestyle FIS World Cup will continue in Deer Valley (USA) as of tomorrow, including an additional aerials event that was added to make up for the cancellation of aerials at Lake Placid next week.
This season's second Big Air in the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup took place in Graz (AUT) on Saturday. The first-ever Snowboard World Cup contest in the Styrian capital was the first World Cup competition in 2007 and also the last one prior to the 7th FIS Snowboard World Championships in Arosa (SUI) that commence next weekend. Performing before more than 15'000 screaming spectators, 18-year-old Peetu Piiroinen (FIN) celebrated his career-first victory as he relegated Hubert Fill (AUT) in the final round. Making the finals only as the 16th and last qualifier, Piiroinen convinced with his consistency, knocking out the qualification and last year's World Cup winner Stefan Gimpl (AUT), among others.
|Kjetil-Andr Aamodt (NOR)|
Photo: Agence Zoom
Kjetil-Andr Aamodt (NOR), the most successful alpine skier in terms of the number of medals won at title events, announced his retirement last weekend. 35-year-old Aamodt won his third Olympic gold in super-G in Turin, increasing his grand total to eight Olympic medals. In addition, Aamodt won five gold, four silver and three bronze medals at FIS Alpine World Ski Championships as well as a total of 21 World Cup races and the overall World Cup in 1994. Along with Pirmin Zurbriggen, Marc Girardelli, Gnther Mader and Bode Miller, he won in all the five alpine events at least once. Due to injury, Aamodt didn'tcompete in the current season.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) and the local organizing committee at Madonna di Campiglio (ITA) together with the Italian Winter Sports Federation (FISI) and regional authorities have agreed to postpone the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships to 5th - 11th March 2007. The event was originally scheduled to be held on 22nd - 27th January, 2007, and the new dates in March now means the event follows immediately after the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Sapporo (JPN).
Due to unseasonably warm weather, little artificial snow could be made in Madonna di Campiglio in the past two months and, as a result, there is insufficient snow to prepare the Freestyle Skiing competition venues according to the Freestyle course specifications.
The competition program will remain the same as the original program and the schedule will be published shortly on the FIS and Organizing Committee's websites.
The FIS Snowboard World Championships in Arosa (SUI) are confirmed and will be held according to the original schedule (see separate article for more details).
Though the FIS Alpine World Cup is already in the midst of its 41st season, last Friday also saw the 40th anniversary of the premiere FIS World Cup competition. The first-ever FIS World Cup race took place in Berchtesgaden on 5th January 1967 and was won by Heini Messner (AUT) ahead of Jules Melquiond (FRA) and Dumeng Giovanoli (SUI). The first World Cup race for the ladies was staged two days later in Oberstaufen, and was won by Nancy Green of Canada.
In just three days, the 7th FIS Snowboard World Championships will be officially opened on Post Square in Arosa (SUI). So far, 47 nations have registered to participate in the highlight event of the snowboarding winter. Romania and Latvia were the latest countries to confirm their participation.
Five reigning 2005 FIS World Champions are planning to travel to Arosa to defend their titles. Special focus will be on the double World Champions Jasey Jay Anderson (CAN) and Antti Autti (FIN): Whilst the `Canadian rocket' Anderson grabbed gold both in parallel slalom and parallel giant slalom on his home ground in Whistler, British Columbia, Autti won in half pipe and big air. Moreover, Lindsey Jacobellis and Seth Wescott (both USA) will try to repeat their titles in snowboardcross. Both showed in the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin that their titles were no one day wonders: while Wescott garnered the first ever Olympic SBX title, Jacobellis grabbed silver. Manuela Riegler (AUT), winner of the ladies' 2005 parallel giant slalom, will start, too.
Thomas Gurzeler, President of the Organising Committee, is positively attuned, especially since the snow control on January 4th gave the green light to all title contests: "All preparations on the infrastructure are advancing precisely according to the plan, and the execution of the FIS Snowboard World Championships is not at risk. Of course, we cannot control the weather: If St. Petrus wants to play with us, we will hold the event in pouring rain if necessary. I'm no longer nervous but instead, am now looking forward to sharing the emotions from Arosa with the entire world."
Contributed by Oliver Kraus
|re on January 10th|
Fine winter conditions with cold weather and snowfall have facilitated preparations for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships that will be held in re (SWE) from 3rd - 18th February 2007. Everything is currently running according to the plan. The upper part of the race arena is already in excellent condition and ready to go. The lower part of the race arena needs a few more days of preparation to reach.
"Considering the current state and the weather forecast, we are confident that we will pass the FIS snow control on January 19th," said Lasse Lindqvist, CEO of re 2007 AB.
For more information and webcams, visit www.are2007.com.
|Tour Fathers Capol & Ulvang|
Following the inaugural Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski performance by Craft Sportswear, FIS Newsflash had an opportunity to ask the so-called `Fathers of the Tour,' Vegard Ulvang, Chairman of the FIS Cross-Country Committee, and Jrg Capol, FIS Race Director Cross-Country, about their initial impressions.
FIS Newsflash: Despite a lot of planning and preparation, the premiere edition of the Tour de Ski was a big question mark in many aspects. Are you pleased with how it turned out?
Vegard Ulvang: Overall, I am very satisfied with the first Tour de Ski. The basic idea of the Tour worked exactly as we had hoped. Our goal was to bring the different specialists together to compete in one and the same event. And, just like in the Tour de France, we saw all the best sprinters and distance specialists competing in all the six Tour Stages. For some time now, our sport has been developing into two separate directions and the Tour will help us reverse this trend.
Beforehand, we were a bit afraid of the mathematics, such as the amount of bonus seconds, but given the very exciting final Stage we experienced on Sunday we can now say that those, too, worked out quite well. Of course, there are many details we can still refine and develop further. The main point is, however, that the athletes, the teams, organizers and the media - in fact all the different stakeholders -support the idea of the Tour de Ski. This provides us with a great foundation for the coming years.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Official Tour Sponsors, Viessmann and Craft Sportswear, and the five organizing committees in the three Tour de Ski countries: Munich and Oberstdorf in Germany, Asiago and Val di Fiemme in Italy, as well as Nove Mesto na Morave in the Czech Republic. It would not have been possible to organize this event without their great commitment. We are especially grateful for the enormous, untiring work the organizers delivered to provide us with perfect racing conditions despite the very challenging snow situation this winter.
Jrg Capol: From a sports perspective, we can be very happy: The hunt for the golden jersey started on the first day and continued until the last day, in fact until the top of the Final Climb on Sunday - we could not have hoped for anything more.
From an organizational perspective, the Tour has been a two-and-a-half-year long process that has included some doubts, lots of discussions and much feedback. Our primary goal was to ensure a good starting point for this new event. A lot of cooperation was required since the different players included five different organizing committees, three national ski associations, five individual groups of rights holders and four host broadcasters, among others. Our great challenge was to make sure that all these actors were sitting in one boat and rowing in the same direction and I am pleased to say that it worked out quite well in the end.
FIS Newsflash: What are the next steps for the Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski?
Vegard Ulvang: Within the FIS Cross-Country Committee, we will undertake a detailed assessment over the course of the next months so that we are in the position to make decisions and confirm the calendar for the next Tour de Ski in our sprint meetings in Portoroz (SLO) in May.
Jrg Capol: I do not think we should change too much as the basic concept seems to work. Our rules seem to be fine the way we set them. All Tour venues surely have some improvements to make and we can always work on the details. This was the first Tour de Ski and we did not really know what to expect which is what we now know and can continue to improve upon from here on. Regardless, for the Tour Board, the next step will be a detailed analysis where we will seek feedback from all the different parties, including the teams, sponsors, organizers and the media. We will then provide this information to the Cross-Country Committee to aid its decision-making process this spring.