News from the World of Skiing 

  Sapporo 2007 concludes in a grand fashion ... more

  France and Czech Republic dominate ski cross at Madonna di Campiglio ... more

  FIS World Cup season still in full speed ... more

  Alpine Junior Worlds open in superb weather in Zauchensee (AUT) ... more

  FIS Nordic Junior Worlds: Final preparations at full speed in Tarvisio ... more

  Swedes strongest on home ground in Vasaloppet ... more

  Speed Skiing World Cup season begins at Bad Mitterndorf ... more

  Successful 46th Trofeo Topolino Sci concludes ... more

 Inside FIS 

  President Kasper key contributor in two important IOC Commissions in 2007 ... more

  Sergey Shiryaev (RUS) tests positive for the use of erythropoietin (EPO) ... more

 News from the World of Skiing 

Sapporo 2007 concludes in a grand fashion
Virpi Kuitunen (FIN)
Photo: NordicFocus
Norwegian triumph
Photo: NordicFocus

The FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Sapporo (JPN) drew to a close last Sunday. The first independent Championships held in Asia, Sapporo 2007 presented the unquestionable season highlight for the FIS Nordic disciplines. In the 18 title events, 14 nations won medals. The medals table was led by Norway with a total of 16 medals, followed by Finland and Germany with eight and nine medals, respectively.

"On behalf of FIS, I can only congratulate the Organizing Committee for the excellent organization of this historic event. The team led by FIS Vice President Yoshiro Ito had paid careful attention even to the smallest details and everything from very high-quality accommodation to transportation to competition infrastructure and beyond was perfectly arranged," said FIS President Gian Franco Kasper. "We may have wished to see some more spectators especially during the week days, but are very pleased with the exciting competitions on well-prepared courses and ski jumps as well as with the beautiful images transmitted around the world," he added.

All competitions were held as late as possible local time to allow for the largest possible TV audiences despite the time difference to other regions. In terms of the final competitions, in the ladies' Cross-Country relay, Finland took charge in the first leg and remained in control throughout the event to capture the first gold since the 1988 home World Championships in Lahti. Thanks to an impressing end spurt in the final kilometer, Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle secured the silver to Team Germany while Norway was left with the bronze. In the men's relay, Petter Northug blew past the anchors of the Russian and Swedish teams in the final uphill to secure the gold to the defending champion Norway. The great favorite Germany finished 4th.

The final ladies' event, the 30km mass start race in the classical technique, finally provided the chance for the World Cup leader and Tour de Ski champion Virpi Kuitunen to claim her first individual gold as Norway's Kristin Steira was unable to respond to her attack in the last stretch. A small sensation, only 19-year-old Therese Johaug (NOR) won the battle for the bronze medal against Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN). With a total of four medals - three golden ones and a bronze - Kuitunen became the most decorated athlete in Sapporo. In the men's long distance race on the final day, Norway's veteran Odd-Bjorn Hjelmeset won ahead of the defending champion and compatriot Frode Estil. Hjelmeset won despite having broken a binding in the middle of the race and having to change one of his skis.


Normal hill medallists
Photo: NordicFocus
Ronny Ackermann (GER)
Photo: NordicFocus

The normal hill competition in Ski Jumping, Adam Malysz of Poland had the longest jump in each round to win by more than 20 points - a record on the normal hill - over large-hill gold medalist Simon Ammann (SUI). It was the fourth title of Malysz's career. Japanese spectators buoyed by the team's success the week before came in great numbers and stayed to admire the exciting battle for the medals even though their team could not repeat the exploit of the previous week, creating a great atmosphere.

In the individual Gundersen event in Nordic Combined, Ronnie Ackermann of Germany successfully but surprisingly defended his titles from 2005 and 2003. Behind him, American Bill Demong delivered a stellar performance to outsprint young Finn Anssi Koivuranta by two-tenths of a second to collect the silver medal, only the second medal in combined by a U.S. skier at the Olympics or World Championships.


France and Czech Republic dominate ski cross at Madonna di Campiglio
Ladies' final
Photo: Mario Facchini
New world champions in ski cross
Photo: Mike Ridewood

The 11th FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships opened in beautiful spring weather on Monday in Madonna di Campiglio (ITA). France and the Czech Republic claimed double victories as the first medals were awarded in the men's and ladies' ski cross on Tuesday. In an exciting competition on a technically-challenging course, Tomas Kraus of the Czech Republic defended his ski cross World Champion title while compatriot Stanley Hayer captured the silver medal. Enak Gavaggio of France, only 25th in the qualifying, rounded out the medals podium.
In the ladies' competition, the French team claimed the first two spots as Ophelie David - the season dominator and four-time ski cross FIS World Cup champion - grabbed her first Championship gold ahead of teammate Meryl Boulangeat. Germany's Alexandra Grauvogl surprised to claim the bronze medal.

Tuesday's race was the first FIS World Championship competition in ski cross since the event was accepted by the IOC Executive Board into the 2010 Olympic Winter Games program in Vancouver (CAN). It was also the second time that FIS World Championship medals were awarded in ski cross. The title competitions in Madonna di Campiglio will continue with the moguls event on Friday night, followed by aerials and dual moguls on Saturday.


FIS World Cup season still in full speed
Renate Goetschl (AUT)
Photo: Agence Zoom
Mario Matt (AUT)
Photo: Agence Zoom

Tarvisio debuts in World Cup, men in Kranjska Gora

In the first-ever Audi FIS Alpine World Cup event held at Tarvisio (ITA), Austrian Nicole Hosp won the super combined on Friday, while teammate Marlies Schild was 3rd and clinched the super combined World Cup crystal globe, following the season's slalom title that she already wrapped up last weekend. Warm weather and soft snow conditions made the season's third super combined especially challenging. In Saturday's downhill, Julia Mancuso (USA) claimed the win and Renate Goetschl, who finished second, took the season's event title with one race to spare. It is Speed Queen Goetschl's fifth downhill title, matching fellow Austrian Franz Klammer for the record. In the super-G on Sunday, Julia Mancuso finished third behind Goetschl- pushing the two into a tie in the overall World Cup rankings. With points won last weekend, they pulled past Austrian Marlies Schild in the tally - each with 1,199 points and six races still on the schedule. The race for the top spot remains tight as Hosp is 3rd with 1,183 and Schild, who finished 12th on Sunday, has 1,170 points. Goetschl won the overall title in 2000, while Mancuso is attempting to become the first American female to win since Tamara McKinney in 1983. The ladies next compete in Zwiesel (GER) this weekend with a giant slalom and slalom on the agenda before World Cup Finals begin March 14 in Lenzerheide (SUI).

In the men's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup in Krajnska Gora (SLO), defending overall World Cup champion Benjamin Raich (AUT) won his third straight giant slalom on Saturday. It was Raich's 25th World Cup win and the third straight victory in Krajnska Gora giant slalom; he also won his first-ever World Cup podium in Krajnska Gora in 1999. Overall World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) tied with Ted Ligety (USA) for 4th place. In Sunday's slalom, World Champion Mario Matt (AUT) won his second straight World Cup slalom on the difficult course, as eight nations claimed top ten rankings. Benjamin Raich, who came 2nd, took the lead in the overall standings after Svindal crashed out of the first run. The men's last races before the finals will be held at Kvitfell (NOR) this week.


Jennifer Heil (CAN) & Dale Begg-Smith (AUS)
Photo: OC Voss
Manuela Laura Pesko (SUI)

Moguls World Cup champions crowned in Voss, Snowboard returns to Calgary

In the last two Freestyle FIS World Cup moguls competitions held in Voss (NOR), Olympic Champions Jennifer Heil (CAN) and Dale Begg-Smith (AUS) continued their strong season performances. Both took two back-to-back wins, clinching the World Cup title by a margin of 288 points each. Shannon Bahrke (USA) and Guilbault Colas (FRA) were the runners-up in the season rankings. For Heil, the Voss victories were the fifth and sixth straight wins this season. Thanks to two excellent performances in Voss, Margareta Marbler (AUT) secured herself the 3rd rank in the World Cup moguls standings. All in all, 42 ladies from 13 nations scored World Cup moguls points this season. In the men's competition, it was the fourth straight win in the Freestyle FIS World Cup for Begg-Smith. Alexandre Bilodeau of Canada took 3rd in the season rankings ahead of defending World Champion Nate Roberts (USA). 61 men scored points in this year's rankings.

After an 11-year break, the Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup returned to Calgary (CAN) last weekend. In the two half-pipe competitions held at Canada Olympic Park, Manuela Laura Pesko (SUI) and Ryoh Aono (JPN) each took two back-to-back wins. The 2007 World Champion celebrated her career's eight and ninth World Cup triumphs while World Cup leading Holly Crawford (AUS) took 2nd and 3rd. On Saturday, Jiayu Liu became the first Chinese rider on the half-pipe World Cup podium as she took 2nd. On the men's side, 16-year-old World Cup leader Ryoh Aono was all smiles after he claimed the World Cup leader's jersey.


Alpine Junior Worlds open in superb weather in Zauchensee (AUT)
Ladies' downhill podium

Sunny weather and excellent course conditions provided a superb setting for the downhill competitions at the FIS Alpine Junior World Ski Championships in Altenmarkt/Zauchensee/Flachau (AUT). The organizers had spared no effort to prepare the courses, just as they did for the ladies' Audi FIS Alpine World Cup in January, so that even the spring-like conditions with warm temperatures did not prevent the athletes from delivering their best performances.

The title in the men's competition went to Beat Feuz of Switzerland, a surprise winner by many accounts since he has not collected a single European Cup point in downhill this season. Matts Olsson of Sweden (36th in Are in downhill) and Bernhard Graf (AUT) rounded out the podium. In the ladies' race, Tina Weirather of Lichtenstein, already known for excellent performances on the World Cup level, took the gold, her second Junior Champ title. Silver went to the 15-year-old Lara Gut, the youngest of the 62 competitors who is considered one of the greatest talents around.

Whilst the men raced the entire, technically demanding 2660m-long course used for the ladies' World Cup races in January including the Hot Air jump, the ladies course was without the (in)famous jump. For more information and continuous event updates, please click here.


FIS Nordic Junior Worlds: Final preparations at full speed in Tarvisio

Originally scheduled for 29th January- 4th February but postponed due to a lack of snow, the FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships and under-23 Cross-Country Championships in Tarvisio (ITA) will begin next Monday, 12th March. 60 medals will be awarded in the course of seven days until 18th March as a total of 14 events in Cross-Country (eight for the juniors and six in the under-23 category), three in Ski Jumping and three in Nordic Combined will be held. More than 700 athletes representing some 35 nations are expected to participate. Team Norway will be defending the Marc Hodler Trophy awarded to the most successful nation each year. Norway claimed the Trophy both in 2005 and 2006.

The host of the 2003 Winter Universiade and the 2002 FIS Alpine Junior World Ski Championships, Tarvisio is highly experienced to stage the 2007 Junior and U-23 World Championships, the largest event in the FIS Nordic disciplines after the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.

"The organizing committee has been working very hard to deliver the event according to the original schedule. This winter has been challenging all around and Tarvisio is no exception," commented Peter Gerdol, General Secretary of the organizing committee. "Due to the limited amount of snow, we have moved the Cross-Country competitions to the area around Fusine lakes, at an altitude of 1000m, instead of the Gabriella Paruzzi ski stadium in Tarvisio proper as planned. Since there is no existing stadium infrastructure there, we are in the process of building temporary facilities for timing, waxing and such. Thanks to a much-appreciated offer by our friends at the Slovenian Ski Association, the Ski Jumping competitions will be held on the K-90 Ski Jumping hill at Planica, which is located just eight kilometres from the Fusine Cross-Country area and some 16 km from Tarvisio. We are doing our very best and with the strong support by the very same team that delivered the FIS Alpine World Cup races last weekend as well as with some weather luck in the next couple of days, we will see great competitions here in Tarvisio."

For more information, visit the event web site here.


Swedes strongest on home ground in Vasaloppet

This year's FIS Marathon Cup has been absolutely dominated by Swedish racers, who have won all but one of the competitions so far this season. On home turf at the 2007 Vasaloppet, Oskar Svaerd outperformed fellow Swede Jerry Ahrlin on the final straight to win by two seconds on Sunday. Svaerd also won the world's oldest, longest (90 km) and biggest classic-technique ski race in 2003 and '05 while Ahrlin also came 2nd last year by two seconds and will wear the red leader's jersey into the final stage, being certain to win this year's overall FIS Marathon Cup title. Elin Ek of Sweden won the ladies' race, the third marathon victory of the season for Ek. She will fight with Jenny Hansson and Lara Peyrot for the overall title at next weekend's finale at Switzerland's Engadin Skimarathon, where 11,000 competitors will participate.

Some 15,000 skiers started in the 83rd edition of Vasaloppet at Salen. For many of them, it would take more than 10 hours to finish the gruelling race. The course is based on a historic incident from nearly 500 years ago. In 1522, Gustav Vasa attempted to gather peasants for a revolt against the occupying Danes. Vasa fled when he got no support. The people of Mora then changed their minds and sent their two best skiers to bring Vasa back. They found him near the Norwegian border in Salen. He returned to lead the Swedes to independence, and was later proclaimed King Gustav Vasa. The Vasaloppet follows the same course from Salen to Mora.


Speed Skiing World Cup season begins at Bad Mitterndorf
Kulm finish area

Speed Skiing on the outrun of a ski flying hill: courtesy of the Austrian resort of Bad Mitterndorf, using the natural topology of their world-famous Ski Flying hill, the Aon Speed Games took place from 23rd-25th February 2007. 82 athletes from 12 nations competed in both classic and downhill/production categories at the FIS Speed Skiing season opener.

The ladies' World Cup was won by the reigning WC champion, Tracey Max Sachs from Brooklyn (USA), with Anna-Karin Modin (SWE) in 2nd place, and Charlotte Bar (FRA) in 3rd. In the men's competition, world record holder Simone Origone clinched 1st place, while a `triplet' of racers came in 2nd place - Philippe May (SUI), Jonathon Moret (SUI) and, to the great excitement of the crowds, local racer Martin Hochrainer. It is a great compliment to the organizers' ability and piste preparation skills that this speed could be achieved by racers separated by 30 places on the start list.

For Speed Skiing, the World Cup at Kulm was very media- and public-friendly event producing a highly exciting spectacle well within reach of the general population. For a TV reportage, please click here.


Successful 46th Trofeo Topolino Sci concludes

The 46th edition of the well-known and highly-respected Trofeo Topolino Sci took place from 1st - 3rd March in Valsugana (ITA). 349 young alpine skiers aged 11 to 15 from 44 nations participated in the slalom and giant slalom races in the Children I (born 1992-1993) and Children II (1994-1995) categories held for the first time on the Panarotta slopes Rigolor and Storta.

Trofeo Topolino Sci is famous as one of the most important springboards for young skiers. Previous winners over the years have included Alberto Tomba (ITA), Giorgio Rocca (ITA), Janica Kostelic (CRO) and Anja Paerson (SWE), to mention just a few. In addition to the races, the event includes a broad selection of side events from painting competitions to movie highlights and more.

Following the official opening by the legendary Gustav Thoeni, future stars from ten countries celebrated medals in the eight race events. As is often the case in the adult category, the Austrian young skiers won the most medals followed by future talents from the United States, Slovenia, Italy and Finland. For more information and results, please click here.


 Inside FIS 

President Kasper key contributor in two important IOC Commissions in 2007

FIS President Gian Franco Kasper continues to serve in two important working commissions within the International Olympic Committee. The 2007 membership in the 26 commissions was confirmed by the IOC last week. The role of the IOC commissions is to guide the organization and the Organizing Committees for the Olympic Games in their missions.

As in the past, President Kasper serves in the Radio and Television Commission led by IOC President Jacques Rogge as well as in the Coordination Commission for the XXI Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010 led by Rene Fasel, President of the International Ice Hockey Federation. The Coordination Commission for Vancouver 2010, including President Kasper, has been meeting on site in Vancouver this week as exactly 1072 days remain until the start of the Games. The three-day meeting scheduled to conclude on Thursday is especially focused on reviewing the current plans for accommodation and venue construction as well as the event's budget. This is the first of two visits by the Commission in Vancouver this year.


Sergey Shiryaev (RUS) tests positive for the use of erythropoietin (EPO)

Russian Cross-Country skier, Sergey Shiryaev has tested positive for the use of the Prohibited Substance Erythropoietin (EPO), identified on the WADA Prohibited List 2007 in Class S2, Hormones and related Substances.

The urine sample was submitted at a target out-of competition doping control on 21st February 2007, in Sapporo (JPN), following the analysis of indicators in the athlete's blood values. The athlete is provisionally suspended from competition forthwith following the receipt of the confirmation B analysis from the WADA accredited laboratory in Tokyo (JPN), where all urine samples from the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships have been (and are still being) analyzed.

FIS President Gian Franco Kasper commented: "Every doping case is disappointing since this means that the athlete is not playing by the fundamental rules of sport which means fair play nor is he heeding the warnings about the severe damage that doping can do to his health. However, this particular case is a testament to the FIS blood testing program which involves regular monitoring of the athletes' blood values."

The case of Sergey Shiryaev will be reviewed and adjudicated by the FIS Doping Panel, chaired by Justice Patrick Smith (CAN) in conjunction with the FIS Council Meeting in May 2007 in Portoroz (SLO).