|News from the World of Skiing|
|Todd Lodwick (USA)|
|Campers at Holmenkollen|
In the last week, eight venues in six nations hosted the FIS World Cups. With the World Cup finals just around the corner, the crystal globe trophies are the most talked-about prizes.
After stops in the Vasaloppet and in Borlnge (SWE), Falun (SWE) and Drammen (NOR), the Scandinavian Tour of the Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country completed with the traditional long distance races at the Holmenkollen Ski Festival in Oslo (NOR). As always, thousands of fans camped out the night before to cheer on the racers along the 16.7 km long course. Despite finishing 40th in the 50km race, Tobias Angerer (GER) confirmed his overall World Cup title - becoming the third German male skier to do so in three years after Rene Sommerfeldt became the first-ever German winner in the season of 2003-2004 and Axel Teichmann took the globe last year. On the ladies' side, the race is still open as Marit Bjoergen (NOR) and Beckie Scott (CAN), as well as Julija Tchepalova (RUS), all have at least a theoretical chance at the overall title.
Todd Lodwick (USA) stole the show in the Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined at Holmenkollen. Competing in the last races of his long career that has included 24 podium places and three 4th place finishes in the overall standings in 13 World Cup seasons, Lodwick charmed the audience with his traditional racing outfits in jumping and skiing. Meanwhile, Lodwick can feel good about the future of his sport: on Saturday, the average age on the podium was just 18, including Petter Tande (20; NOR) on the top, and Anssi Koivuranta (17; FIN) who celebrated his best World Cup weekend so far with two 3rd place finishes.
|Akira Sasaki (JPN)|
|Skicross in Sierra Nevada (ESP)|
In Alpine Skiing, Levi (FIN) served as a second-time host for the ladies' Audi FIS Alpine World Cup staging two slaloms. As in all World Cup slaloms this season, Janica Kostelic (CRO) was on the podium in both races, confirming her victory in the discipline World Cup. The Swedish ladies performed especially well on Saturday, having four athletes in the top 11, followed by Anja Prson taking her 33rd World Cup victory (18th in slalom) on Sunday. Prson also maintains a shot at the overall World Cup title even though Kostelic leads by 254 points with just the final four races remaining.
In Shigakogen (JPN), the men's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup staged two slaloms before heading to Scandinavia for the World Cup finals. With his victory in the first and a 4th place finish in the second slalom, Benjamin Raich (AUT) confirmed the overall JOSKA globe, together with his two Olympic gold medals surely the sign of a perfect season. Kalle Palander (FIN), who for the second time got to share the victory in a World Cup slalom on Sunday, now also stands a chance to take the discipline World Cup from Giorgio Rocca, the early season slalom dominator. In Saturday's slalom, Akira Sasaki missed the first-ever Japanese World Cup victory by just 17 hundredths in finishing 2nd.
In Freestyle Skiing, the skicrossers competed on a well prepared, exciting course under brilliantly blue Andalusia skies in Sierra Nevada (SPA), where Tomas Kraus (CZE) clinched his second World Cup title in a row and Ophelie David (FRA) confirmed already her third consecutive victory in the skicross World Cup. Kraus made every final round this season, and he was only out of the top three in his home race in Spindleruv Mlyn, where he was in the lead and fell coming into the last double jump. Kraus is also the reigning FIS World Champion in skicross. To confirm the ladies' cup, Karen Huttary (AUT) needed to win the last competition while David had to place 7th. They ended up skiing off against each other in the last round.
In the Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup at Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid, New York (USA), two-time Olympic Champion Philipp Schoch (SUI) postponed the decision in the parallel World Cup to the finals in Furano (JPN) as he cut his brother's lead in the World Cup standings to 300 points. Schoch's team mate Manuela Laura Pesko also confirmed her discipline crystal globe by ranking 2nd in the season's second-to-last half-pipe while Germany's Jan Michaelis, also placing 2nd, grew his lead in the discipline World Cup standings to comfortable 640 points.
|Thomas Morgenstern celebrates|
While Adam Malysz (POL) took his first season victory on the traditional Holmenkollen hill in Oslo (NOR) - the site of his first-ever World Cup victory almost exactly ten years earlier - it was Thomas Morgenstern (AUT) who triumphed in the 2006 Nordic Tournament. The double Olympic Champion won with 1094.4 points clearly ahead of Andreas Kttel (SUI; winner in Kuopio; total Tournament points of 1079.9) and Janne Happonen (FIN; winner in Lahti with 1074.9 total Tournament points). Consistency is what made the difference in the overall Nordic Tournament rankings: the 19-year-old Austrian ranked 5th in Lahti, 2nd in Kuopio, 1st in Lillehammer and 2nd in Oslo. The top three athletes in the Nordic Tournament received special prize money totaling _ 50,000 (_25,000 for Tournament winner; _15,000 for 2nd; _10,000 for 3rd). Matti Hautamki (FIN), a double Olympic silver medalist and the Tournament winner of 2005 with a Grand Slam of four victories, only ranked 11th this time.
The Nordic Tournament, an annual four-hill competition organized by the Ski Associations of Finland and Norway together with FIS and the local organizers in Lahti, Kuopio, Lillehammer and Oslo is one of the biggest Ski Jumping events annually. This year, supported by beautiful winter weather, the 9th edition of the Tournament - the third time in its current composition - attracted more than 78,000 spectators, 10,000 more than in 2005.
In the E-ON Ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping, Jakub Janda now leads with 175 points ahead of Janne Ahonen (FIN) as the final two ski flying competitions are scheduled to take place in Planica (SLO) from March 18th - 19th, 2006.
|The Changchun stadium|
The sprint final in this year's Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country will be held today, March 15th, at the sports stadium in Changchun, the capital city of Jilin Province in North-Eastern China. This is the first time that a FIS World Cup Cross-Country competition is staged in China. The first-ever FIS World Cup was held in China in January 2004 when Harbin hosted a Freestyle Skiing aerials competition.
China is an emerging Cross-Country skiing nation, with almost 120 million people living in winter regions and becoming increasingly interested in the Nordic winter sports. The City of Changchun in the heart of Manchuria has become the center of this development. In the last two years, two invitational FIS sprint competitions have taken place there, and the 4th edition of the Chinese Vasaloppet was organized this season. For the first time, Chinese Cross-Country skiers have scored World Cup points this season, including Wang Chunli (20 points so far) and Li Hongxue (12 points) in the ladies,' and Li Geliang (7 points) in the men's competitions.
|Toni Burn (SUI)|
The FIS Telemark World Cup season 2005/06 consisted of 18 individual races for both the ladies and men. The best athletes in this versatile sport started with competitions in Slovenia, Switzerland and France in January before moving to Norway in early February. The season concluded with the North American Tour, including competitions in Kimberly, B.C. (CAN), and the World Cup finals at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, outside of Sandpoint, Idaho (USA). With the finals in Sandpoint, the FIS Telemark World Cup returned to the United States for the first time in 3 years for a fun-filled weekend showcasing the sport of telemark skiing.
This season, Team Norway was unbeatable in the overall FIS Telemark World Cup rankings. The ladies World Cup was won by Katinka Knudsen from Norway, followed by Astrid Sturm of Germany and Ingrid Hellberg from Sweden. The Norwegian men swept the podium in the men's rankings with Boerge Soevik in 1st, Eirik Rykhus 2nd and Daniel Halnes 3rd. The Norwegian coach, Kjetil Soevik, who himself just retired from the FIS Telemark World Cup before this season, has many reasons to celebrate: 16-year-old Katinka Knudsen is the youngest overall champion in the history of the FIS Telemark World Cup, Eirik Rykhus, the best athlete in the last three years returned victorious after a terrible crash and injury last season, and finally, Boerge Soevik, the winner of the men's overall World Cup is his youngest brother. Altogether 16 nations scored World Cup points this season, including 28 ladies and 75 men.
High level Telemark competitions are attractive which explains the steady increase in interest in the World Cup. The highlights of the 2006 season include the return of Finland to the World Cup with a young new team, led by former World Champion Antti-Pekka Auvinen, and the first-time participation of the team from the Czech Republic. Also worth noting is the progress made by the German ladies' team and the French men's team. Add to that the development of new tools such as the Wireless Penalty Registration System to enable the judges to transmit any penalties immediately and thus communicate a competitor's final points on arrival in the finish, the FIS Telemark competitions will be even more attractive in seasons to come. Next year, the season highlight beside the FIS World Cup will be the FIS Telemark World Championships in Thyon, Switzerland.
FIS sends its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Jonatan Johansson (SWE), who died as a result of multiple internal injuries he suffered after a fall in a jump during official training for a NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup snowboardcross (SBX) competition in Lake Placid, New York (USA). Johansson was a 26-year-old member of the Swedish Olympic team in Turin and a long-time participant in the Snowboard FIS World Cup