|News from the World of Skiing|
|News from the World of Skiing|
|Anna Fenninger (AUT)|
|Peter Struger (AUT)|
Photo: Agence Zoom
The 2006/2007 FIS European Cup season provided many challenges. Thanks to immense efforts by the organizers, 31 races were held in the ladies' and 27 races in the men's Cup. Only 27 races were staged as scheduled while 23 races had to be cancelled altogether. Downhill races were the most severely affected as only three of the scheduled nine races for each the ladies and men could be held since there are few alternative resorts with suitable courses, especially this year with so little snow. However, some races especially at the end of the season benefited from great slopes and perfect conditions, such as the Pyrenees Tour for the ladies in Pal (AND) and La Molina (SPA), and the ladies' first giant slalom in Bansko (BUL). While it was a difficult season with weather challenges from no snow to too much snow and/or strong winds, great compliments for the excellent cooperation and engagement belong to the ever-more professional race organizers around Europe.
The European Cup finals were scheduled in Madesimo-Campodolcino-Caspoggio (ITA) from 12th-18th March, 2007. Due to a lack of snow, the speed finals in Caspoggio (ITA) had to be rescheduled in Santa Caterina (ITA). The original organizers prepared everything for the teams including accommodation, meals, transportation and, most importantly, perfect slopes. Cold and sunny weather accompanied the races there: two ladies downhill races, a men's downhill and the second super combined of the season for each. Finals for the technical events were raced in Madesimo in great atmosphere. And the organizers in Sella Nevea (ITA) spared no effort to deliver the last two super-G races of the season for both the ladies and men.
The final results show the power of a new generation of ladies racers. 18-year-old Anna Fenninger (AUT) defended her overall title from last season, took her first title in super-G and finished 2nd in giant slalom. Marusa Ferk of Slovenia finished 2nd overall, 3rd in slalom and won the first-ever EC super combined rankings during her first Cup season; she also collected two 4th place finishes in the Junior World Championships in Altenmarkt/Zauchensee (AUT). Other impressive performances included the 2nd place in the slalom rankings by 17-year-old Celina Hangl (SUI) and the same rank for her 15-year-old teammate Lara Gut, silver medalist in downhill at Junior Worlds, in the downhill rankings. Both qualified for the World Cup season 2007/2008 in their respective events. A total of 13 racers from seven nations - six of them born in 88 or 89 - collected more than 400 EC points for the next season.
In the men's overall rankings, Austria swept the podium with European Cup veterans Peter Struger, Alexander Koll (who also won the slalom rankings) and Matthias Lanzinger. Johan Clarey of France claimed both the downhill and super combined titles while Olivier Brand (SUI), 5th overall, triumphed in super-G. The unofficial Rookie of the Year, Marcus Sandell won the giant slalom rankings and became only the second Finnish winner of any European Cup rankings.
|Leanne Smith (USA)|
|Andrew Weibrecht (USA) |
In this season's NorAm Cup, Andrew Weibrecht (USA) became the men's overall champion and Leanne Smith (also USA) grabbed the ladies' overall title. U.S. skiers delivered a strong overall performance as they captured 11 titles, leaving Canada with two event ranking wins. Altogether, 23 men's races and 21 ladies' races were held, and this season was the first time that NorAm titles were awarded in super combined as two events were staged both for the ladies and men.
In the United States, the NorAm Cup events form the Chevrolet Super Series, while the Canadian events of Nor-Am Cup circuit are presented by Northwest Mutual Funds Inc. In the men's rankings, Weibrecht who collected 1,015 points, including three victories, prevailed ahead of Erik Fisher (also USA) with 965 points and Jeffrey Frisch (CAN) with 592 points. In the ladies standings, Smith finished the season with 750 points, 63 points more than fellow Americans Kiley Staples in 2nd place and 132 points more than Chelsea Marshall who ranked 3rd. Based on the final rankings, the top two skiers in each traditional discipline (i.e., slalom, giant slalom, super-G and downhill) receive automatic start rights for World Cup races in the 2007/2008 season.
The 11th FIS Snowboard Junior World Championships will take place in Bad Gastein (AUT) from 10th-13th April. Almost 300 of the world's best young boarders representing 29 nations will be competing in the second FIS Junior Snowboard World Championships held in Austria. The opening ceremony will take place on Monday 9th April and the title competitions will commence with the snowboardcross finals on 11th April, followed by parallel giant slalom on 12th and both big air and parallel slalom on 13th April. Young athletes born between 1987-1991 are entitled to participate. At last year's championships in Vivaldi Park (KOR), Switzerland won the medals ranking followed by USA and Finland.
A regular host of the Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup and a many-time venue for the FIS Alpine World Cup, Bad Gastein and the resort of Sportgastein in Gastein Valley, located just an hour from Salzburg at an altitude of 1.589 m, are no newcomers to hosting high-quality winter sports events. "The conditions in Bad Gastein are excellent - we can really look forward to having wonderful competitions next week," commented Peter Krogoll, FIS Technical Advisor for the event. "After the recent snowfall, there is at least 160cm of snow and the competition venues are in a great shape. The snowboardcross course is already finished, and so is the big air venue while the parallel slopes are well on their way."
|The winners with FIS-CIT Chairman Urs Dietrich|
The finals for the FIS-CIT Arnold Lunn World-Cup 2007 were held on 17th March in Leogang (AUT). The FIS-CIT Arnold Lunn World Cup offers an international competition opportunity to citadin racers from both alpine and non-alpine countries - citadin racers are competitors who reside permanently at a location which is not a winter sports resort and which is not linked to a skiing area by an uphill transport facility. The National Ski Associations staged 54 races between December 2006 and March 2007 for both the ladies and men in all four events. There were a number of cancellations and site changes mainly due to a lack of snow. In the end, 460 athletes representing 31 countries scored points (a victory is worth 50 points; 20th place awards one point). All competitions could be held in great conditions despite the challenging snow conditions and especially the finals organizers in Leogang provided for superb racing conditions. Thanks to all the organizers for their great efforts!
As each year since 2004, Stefan Lussnig (AUT) took the title for the men's overall World Cup. The ladies champion was Heidi Zacher of Germany. The FIS-CIT Arnold Lunn Nations' Cup remained exciting until the last race: though Italy had led for most of the season, Austria claimed the honors based on excellent performances at the finals in Leogang. For more results and pictures, please visit http://www.fiscit.de/datei1.php
|Vassili Rotchev (RUS)|
Photo: Agence Zoom
The first-ever Grand Prix `Sprint Tour' took place in Russia from 28th - 31st March. This new competition series consists of four Cross-Country sprint races - two in the classical and two in the free technique - held over four days. The 2007 Grand Prix `Sprint Tour' included a Mountain Sprint and a Super Sprint over 100m, staged in the Sverdlovsk region some 500 km north of Yekaterinburg in the Urals, and a Sprint Criterium (points race) and a normal FIS sprint hosted in the Khanty - Mansiysk/Yugra region in Western Siberia.
The winners of the 2007 Grand Prix `Sprint Tour' were 20-year-old Evgenia Shapovalova and former Sprint World Champion and Sapporo Team Sprint silver medalist Vassili Rotchev, both of Russia. Shapovalova, who won her first World Cup sprint in Changchun (CHN) this season, took the victory with just a four-point margin over Alena Sidko, with Natalia Korosteleva in 3rd (both Russia). The men's series, with participation from international sprint specialists, was won by home favorite Rotchev 25 points ahead of this season's Swedish newcomer Emil Joensson and his teammate Peter Larsson.
"My goal was to win the Sprint Tour - this was no holiday but a rather tough competition. I especially liked the Super Sprint. First I thought that 100m is a piece of cake but in the end, it was a very fast race. In fact, the speed was unbelievable and it is these types of races that make it exciting," commented Rotchev following the first edition of the Grand Prix `Sprint Tour'.
FIS is pleased to announce the appointment of Niklas Carlsson (SWE) to the position of Event Manager. With main responsibility for supporting the Local Organizing Committees in their preparations for major FIS events, notably the FIS World Ski Championships, Niklas Carlsson will commence in his new position officially from 1st August, 2007. He will, however, participate in key meetings already during the spring and early summer months including the FIS Calendar Conference in Portoroz (SLO) at the end of May.
Niklas Carlsson (32) brings to his new role considerable experience with many FIS disciplines, both from the organizational and sports perspectives. Most recently, he served as Event Manager with re 2007 AB, the organizer of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2007 in re (SWE), acclaimed as one of the best seen. Prior to that, Carlsson was General Manager for Alpine, Freestyle, Telemark and Speed Skiing and Snowboard at the Swedish Ski Association. From 2000-2003, he worked as Head Coach, initially for the Swedish Junior National Team, Alpine Skiing, and then for the highly successful Swedish ladies' Alpine Skiing National Team.
"I am very excited about this opportunity of working for FIS. I believe that I will be able to contribute fresh ideas for specific areas of the organization, such as event promotion and activation, side events and branding," said Carlsson and added: "It's going to be a great challenge and I'm already really looking forward to working closely with the organizers of the next FIS World Championships."
The 2007 FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships and U-23 Cross-Country World Ski Championships were held in Tarvisio (ITA) from 12th - 18th March. For the first time, representatives of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) were on-site at the event under the umbrella of the so-called WADA Athlete Outreach program. This program is focused on educating athletes and their support personnel about the dangers and consequences of doping. WADA representatives Stacy Spletzer, WADA Manager, Outreach and Athlete Programs and Tanja Kari (FIN), a member of WADA's Athlete Committee and Paralympic Cross-Country champion, set their information booth up right at the stadium near the finish line where they were within an easy reach during three days. Countless young athletes and officials visited the booth, played The Doping Quiz and generally showed interest in raising their awareness about anti-doping and fair play. The visitors not only were able to pick up information leaflets but also to win prizes such as WADA headbands and carabineers, a real hit among the youngsters.
|Gnter Hujara |
Photo: Agence Zoom
|Atle Skaardal |
Photo: Agence Zoom
FIS Chief Race Directors for Alpine Skiing, Gnter Hujara for the men, and Atle Skaardal for the ladies, shared some of their observations of 2006/2007 Audi FIS Alpine World Cup season for the FIS Newsflash.
FIS Newsflash: Do you have any general comments on the season?
Gnter Hujara & Atle Skaardal: Overall, we can say that this was a successful season for us. Not in terms of snow and weather conditions, which we all know were extremely challenging, but because of what we have achieved for the product `Alpine Skiing.' Due to the opportunities available to the FIS Alpine World Cup, such as excellent infrastructure and financing provided by live broadcasting, we only had to cancel three events. At levels below the World Cup, however, the situation was much more dramatic as similar options do not exist. But, provided that the climatic conditions do not stay this way, we have now set a very good basis for the future of Alpine Skiing at FIS.
FIS Newsflash: What are these positive developments?
Gnter Hujara & Atle Skaardal: For several years, there has been much discussion and critique concerning the large number of races in the FIS Alpine World Cup calendar. This discussion about the physical and traveling overload has involved not only the athletes but also the trainers, other team staff and officials. Simultaneously, the respective FIS Committees have deliberated about the possibilities for optimizing the racing calendar. One of the ways to achieve this would be the elimination of one of our events, be it the super-G, super combined or team event.
At the World Cup finals in Lenzerheide, we consciously launched the recent discussion on the possible elimination of super-G. The goal was to allow for a real exchange of opinions and to solicit detailed feedback from professionals at the sharp end of the sport such as the media, industry, coaches and officials because that is what we needed to take the next step before the meetings with the FIS technical committees at the end of May. Based on the many contributions we have received, it is now very clear that there is strong support for keeping the super-G. There is also equally strong support for the super combined that has established itself as an important part of the calendar. And the feedback we received defined giant slalom and super combined as the most critical events for training the younger racers.
On the basis all this feedback, it became our task as Chief Race Directors to prepare the calendar with all six events and clear start and end dates. That means the traditional beginning in Slden (AUT) in October and the finals on the second, or at the latest third, weekend in March. All World Cup competitions must then take place between these two dates. This has been our guideline for preparing the calendars for the next several seasons which will be considered in the Calendar Conference in Portoroz (SLO) in May. We can already say that the recent discussion has given us precisely the type of a framework we needed to initiate a long-term calendar planning process.
The other positive developments this season included the awarding of the first super combined World Cup trophy, introduction of qualification races at the title events and experiments with the starting order. The super combined has fulfilled our expectations since it has, as we hoped, re-animated participation in downhill on a broad basis. We have seen many young skiers venture into the speed events through the super combined. We are also quite pleased with the broad interest and enthusiasm for the super combined from the teams and organizers. The qualification races for the men's slalom and giant slalom in re were also successful as both the qualification and finals thereby become more regular and more attractive to the media. Such a qualification race will be part of the procedure in all future title competitions and we are even considering staging the second run with the 30 best racers only. The starting order change in downhill (WSCL in reverse) this season also led to substantial discussion. For the first time, the coaches of all World Cup nations have now prepared a common suggestion for resolving this issue and we can look forward to a very constructive discussion in a few weeks in Portoroz.
Finally, we are in the process of instituting some World Cup rules changes relating to the athletes. In Lenzerheide alone, CHF 900'000 was awarded in prize money. This prize money and the entire system of the FIS World Cup is what have enabled many racers to become professional skiers. Along with such benefits there are also some obligations and as of next season, we plan to introduce monetary fines for absence from public bib draws, for example.