|News from the World of Skiing|
|News from the World of Skiing|
|Anja Paerson (SWE)|
|Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR)|
Despite the early weather challenges, the speed disciplines in the 39th FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in ¸re (SWE) were completed on schedule. The men's and ladies' super-combined events - a premiere in the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships - were held according to plan whilst both the men's and ladies' downhill races took place on `Super Sunday,' 11th February. The ladies' giant slalom kicked off the technical event finals on Tuesday, following the introductory qualification race for the men's giant slalom that took place on Monday. At this point,˙seven nations have won medals in Are,˙five of them gold.˙While Sweden leads the medals table with three golds and one silver and bronze each, Austria has won the most medals, six˙in total.
Switzerland's Daniel Albrecht became the first FIS World Champion in super combined on Thursday as he leapfrogged six fellow racers with better downhill times in slalom to win the event. The Swiss team dominated the men's super combined, taking three of the top four spots and four of the top eight. In the men's downhill, Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) conquered the Olympia downhill course and made history by becoming the first Norwegian to win a downhill gold medal at the World Championships. Behind him the Czech-born Canadian Jan Hudec grabbed a surprise silver medal, the first-ever for a Canadian male, and 37-year-old Patrick Jaerbyn (SWE) became the oldest skier ever to medal in the FIS World Championships.
To the great joy of the local fans, there was only one winner in the ladies' speed events. Following her gold in super-G and a superb victory in the ladies' super combined on Friday, Anja Paerson, the Swedish ski racing queen, sealed her third straight gold on Sunday by besting the field again in the ladies' downhill. By doing so, the 25-year-old became the first skier ever to earn medals in all five disciplines at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. In total, it was the seventh World Championship and a ninth World Championship medal for Anja Paerson and she now matches Pirmin Zurbriggen (SUI) for fifth on the all-time championship medal list. Behind Paerson, the ladies' speed medals were equally divided between USA and Austria.
In the ladies' giant slalom, it was finally time for the first gold for Austria as Nicole Hosp, bronze medallist in the downhill, delivered a stunning second run moving up from tied 4th place after the first run. As Anja Paerson failed to finish the second run, a young Swedish talent ensured another medal for the host country: Maria Pietil„-Holmner, 2006 Junior World Champion in slalom, took silver after a fantastic second run while Denise Karbon, back from severe injuries in 2004, claimed bronze for Italy. In the men's giant slalom, Aksel Lund Svindal took his second straight gold while Daniel Albrecht added a silver medal to his surprise gold in combined. Didier Cuche of Switzerland was third, for his first medal at a major championship after having missed a medal by just hundredths of a second several times.
|Anders Jacobsen (NOR)|
Photo: OC Willingen
|Big air top three|
The e.on ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping continued with an evening competition in Klingenthal (GER) last Wednesday. Setting a new hill record at 142.5 meters in the first round, 17-year-old Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT) charmed the 20'000 fans on-site, and took the victory ahead of Simon Ammann (SUI) and Adam Malysz (POL) who now has a total of 68 career podiums.
In Willingen (GER), at the last World Cup event before the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Sapporo (JPN), Anders Jacobsen (NOR) and Team Austria claimed the top spots before almost 45'000 spectators over the weekend. For Jacobsen, it was the season's fourth victory and tenth podium; he has never ranked lower than 10th all season. With the additional 100 points for the win, Jacobsen consolidated his lead in the World Cup standings to 172 points. Jernej Damjan of Slovenia, now under new coach Ari-Pekka Nikkola (FIN), surprised with his 3rd place, his first podium ever. On Sunday, in the only team competition so far this season, Team Austria won just eight points ahead of Norway, while Germany took 3rd.
In the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup, the season's last big air event took place in Moscow on Saturday in front of around 15'000 spectators. Peetu Piiroinen (FIN) claimed the top of the podium and also took home the small World Cup crystal globe in big air. Five days before his 19th birthday, the Finn continued his season domination, ahead of teammate Jaakko Ruha who came in 2nd in Moscow and 3rd in the rankings. Slovenia's Matevz Petek rounded out the Moscow podium as 3rd, and ranked 2nd in the final event World Cup standings.
In the season's last parallel slalom held in Shukulovo (RUS) on Friday, Heidi Neururer (AUT) and Marc Iselin (SUI) grabbed the top ranks. The reigning FIS parallel slalom World Champion Neururer also took the World Cup lead from her teammate Doresia Krings. For Iselin, it was the second successive win in Shukulovo, partially making up for a challenging season; overall, it was the third time that the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup visited Russia. There are three parallel giant slaloms still on the schedule as the World Cup circuit continues in Japan and Korea and then in North America for the finals.
The Austrian Ski Association with Bad Gastein will stage the 11th FIS Junior Snowboard World Championships from 10th - 14th April 2007. The world's best young boarders will compete at an experienced World Cup site that is excited to organize this important event for the development of the sport. The detailed program will be available shortly.
The snow has (finally) arrived and final preparations are underway in Jaca (SPA) for the launch of the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) that will take place from 18th - 23rd February, 2007. This is the first time Spain will host the winter edition of the EYOF; the previous winter versions were celebrated in Vuokatti (FIN) in 2001, in Bled (SLO) in 2003 and in Monthey (SUI) in 2005. The Opening Ceremony will take place in the brand-new ice rink in Jaca on February 18th.
Initiated by President of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge in 1991 in his former capacity as head of the European National Olympic Committees, prior to his election to the IOC helm, the EYOF is a winter sports festival for the young talents and future stars in global winter sports. Athletes aged 15-18 (i.e. born in 1989-1992) representing more than 40 European countries - a record of 43 teams are expected - will compete in Jaca and at the ski resorts in the Aragonese Pyrenees. Competitions will be held in the FIS disciplines of Cross-Country Skiing (the program includes a free technique sprint, a pursuit race and an individual start competition in the classical technique for both girls and boys), Alpine Skiing (super-G, slalom and giant slalom for girls and boys) and Snowboard (parallel giant slalom and snowboardcross for girls and boys). In addition, there will be competitions in Biathlon, Figure Skating and Ice Hockey.
Held in Munich (GER), from 4th - 7th February, the ispo winter07 trade fair made history in many aspects. With 180'000 square meters, it set a new space record. And with 1'970 participating companies or organizations from more than 40 different countries, a new exhibitor record was seen, as well as with 65'000 industry visitors, +5% over 2006, a new visitor record. Many FIS partners and sponsors were present, as well as Halti, one of the official sponsors of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in ¸re, that was showing live broadcasts from ¸re at its stand. As in the past several years, FIS shared a presence with JOSKA, the exclusive producer of the famous FIS World Cup crystal globes, that presented samples of its most special trophies. A special feature at ispo winter07 organized by FIS was the installation of the AUDI video wall usually to be found on site at the FIS Alpine World Cup events, which was transmitting live coverage from the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Ǻre.
The FIS Council took advantage of the occasion of the 39th FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in ¸re (SWE) to stage its gathering on 12th February. In addition to reviewing current business affairs, this meeting of the Council - which takes place during either the Alpine or Nordic championships alternately - serves as an opportunity to brainstorm and exchange ideas about the direction of the sport and the organization.
"On behalf of the FIS Council, I congratulate the organizers of these FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, ¸re 2007 AB, for excellent work and thank them for their determination to deliver one of the best FIS Alpine World Ski Championships despite the changing weather conditions. We were pleased to see the speed disciplines conclude precisely on schedule and are looking forward to a great final week with the technical disciplines and the Nations' Team Event," commented FIS President Gian Franco Kasper.
As part of its proceedings, the FIS Council confirmed that Audi has prolonged its engagement as sponsor of the FIS Alpine World Cup until 2012, and appointed Turkey with Antalya as host of the 47th International Ski Congress in 2010.
The FIS Council will next meet in Portoroz (SLO) on Monday, 28th May 2007 immediately after the FIS Calendar Conference. The dates of the Calendar Conference are Thursday 24th - Saturday 26th May 2007.
The FIS Sub-Committee for Ladies' Cross-Country has updated the highly informational booklet called "The Role of Adequate Nutrition for Performance and Health for Female Cross-Country Skiers," originally published in 2003. The 2007 edition by Nanna L. Meyer will be distributed during the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2007 in Sapporo (JPN) by the Committee's Chairperson Midori Koyama Poppe (JPN). It is also available on the FIS Website through this link.
Those needing print versions of the booklet, please contact the FIS Nordic Office (available as of mid-March 2007).
Two Snowboard training camps, staged under the auspices of the FIS Aid & Promotion program, are taking place in February. The freestyle half-pipe camp was held from 4th to 11th February 2007 in Bardonecchia (ITA). Since the camp took place after the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup events were held at last year's Olympic venue in Bardonecchia on 2nd-3rd February, the 15 participating riders from eight nations and six coaches from six nations could train in excellent conditions.
The alpine snowboarding and snowboardcross camp is currently underway in Sulden (ITA). The group of 25 riders from 13 nations as well as nine coaches from as many nations arrived on 10th February and will train there under the coordination of Alex Andreis until 17th February.
Developed over the years, the FIS Study Group Program has become an important part of the FIS World Ski Championships. This program has evolved into an essential opportunity for future organizers to see all the action underway as well as learn from the organization behind the scenes. In ¸re, there are˙several hundereds of˙representatives of future organizing committees present, including several from the organizing committees for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Val d'Isere (FRA)2009 and Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER) 2011, the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver (CAN)˙2010, and the Biathlon World Championships in Oestersund (SWE) 2008.
On Monday, the ¸re 2007 Organizing Committee staged a Future Organizers' Seminar with more than 30 participants. The seminar featured presentations covering all the main areas of the event's organization, such as finances, accommodation, transportation, medical & anti-doping, marketing, accreditation, volunteers, sports organization, media & PR, infrastructure and side events. A tour of the arenas concluded the full day's program.
"Our Future Organizers' Seminar provided a great opportunity for us to consolidate some of the key information we wanted to share with the many observing groups and allow them to ask direct questions on any particular topic areas. We are quite pleased with the large number of participants in the Seminar as well as in the entire Study Group Program here in ¸re, and the future organizers will hopefully return home with many great experiences and some new ideas provided by us," commented Karin S. Halvarsson, ¸re 2007 Information Manager.
|Toni K„gi (SUI)|
This week we have the pleasure to feature an interview with Toni K„gi (SUI), a long-time promoter of alpine ski racing who has experienced many title events from various perspectives.
FIS Newsflash: You have participated in several major winter sports events over the past 35 years.. What do you consider to be the greatest changes in this time?
Toni K„gi: The FIS Alpine World Ski Championships here in ¸re are my 12th World Ski Championships, along with six Olympic Winter Games.. I first participated in the World Ski Championships in Val Gardena (ITA) in 1970 as part of the Study Group for St. Moritz that was a candidate for the 1974 event. I am extremely grateful for the many experiences and friendships that I have been able to make at these events with the event organizers, FIS officials and guests alike. Over the years, I have served in various roles, from being part of the Organizing Committee as in 1974 as Technical Director to being a Technical Delegate, Jury Member and FIS guest or, as here in ¸re, the FIS VIP Coordinator. What strikes me as the main difference in comparison with earlier events is the significant professionalization of the organization; for example, the management team here in ¸re, led by Lasse Lindquist, is a team of real experts. Based on today's standards, what we did in St. Moritz in 1974 would have to be viewed just as a high-quality FIS race.
Another aspect, the importance of which for the organizing community simply cannot be underestimated, is the investment in the infrastructure generated by today's World Ski Championships. This includes all the new lifts, snow-making systems, support buildings and much more.. Just like here in ¸re, the infrastructural improvements made by St. Moritz - with support of various government authorities - in advance of the 2003 Championships have been extremely valuable for the resort in the years since the event. I expect this to be the case for any future hosts as well..
FIS Newsflash: You are a long-time member, former Chairman and current Honorary Member of the FIS Alpine and Rules Sub-Committee, as well as a pioneer for the FIS Technical Delegates (TD). How do you assess the development in this area?
Toni K„gi: Yes, my first TD assignment was in Schladming (AUT) in 1971, and I served in the FIS Alpine Rules and Control Committee from the late 1970's until 1994. Today, change in ski sport is extremely rapid. Just like the general organization of our main events has become more professional, so has the sports and technical organization undergone a real transformation following the introduction of the full-time FIS Race Directors in the early 1990's. These individuals are true experts who know our sport from A-Z since they live and breathe skiing day and night. As a result, the role of the Technical Delegate has changed significantly. Rather than being in charge of the overall event, the TD today is more of an advisor who can bring their experience to bear in jury decisions especially in the speed disciplines. I whole-heartedly support this change since, as opposed to the Race Directors, the TDs and other jury members are most often not ski professionals but rather life-long ski enthusiasts and as such, it is difficult for them to keep current with all the latest developments. Given the comprehensive FIS TD education program run by Janez Flere, the TDs are well-trained but we cannot compare a few annual assignments to the know-how of someone who follows the entire World Cup or Europa Cup circuit. To further improve our TD training program, I would even argue that like in football, we should consider establishing age limits, annual examinations and fitness tests for all those serving in the jury at FIS World Cups or FIS World Ski Championships and Olympic Winter Games.
The professionalization of ski sport is also reflected in the FIS Committee work, especially in the rules area. There, too, many of the current members are professionals, trainers or managers, working full-time with their National Ski Associations. As such they are in a position to contribute new ideas that help keep our rules up-to-date. Unfortunately, this development has not reached all the National Ski Associations and too often, membership in the technical committees is still used for sport-political purposes rather than to benefit our sport.
FIS Newsflash: You are also Member of the Board and Treasurer of the Marc Hodler Foundation. How come?
Toni K„gi: Given my long career in the financial business, I am pleased to be able to give something back to a sport that has given me so much. In my current role, I manage the foundation's financial affairs as well as oversee its assets. I work very closely with Fritz Wagnerberger, FIS Treasurer, to coordinate the asset management and investment strategy. The Marc Hodler Foundation has for example supported severely injured athletes with insufficient insurance coverage, as well as special projects that promote skiing in various ways. Most recently, we have been engaged in projects that help introduce the sport of skiing to more children and youth - sadly enough, more and more children are growing up without a relationship to snow and the ski sports even in countries with long traditions such as the Alpine countries and Scandinavia.