|News from the World of Skiing|
|News from the World of Skiing|
|Young boardercrossers in action in Bad Gastein|
The 11th FIS Snowboard Junior World Championships were held in Bad Gastein (AUT) in excellent conditions and superb weather last week. Almost 300 young boarders from 29 nations competed in the eight title events held at the Sportgastein resort. A total of 11 countries won medals. With four medals, three of which gold, Norway was the most successful nation, followed by Austria with four (1-2-1) and Russia with three medals (1-1-1).
The Bad Gastein heros included several who also won medals at the FIS Snowboard World Championships in Arosa (SUI) in January and have collected considerable experience on the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup tour. The reigning 2007 FIS World Champion in parallel giant slalom, 19-year-old Ekatarina Tudigescheva (RUS) defended her 2006 Junior World Champion title in the Gastein parallel giant slalom and also captured silver in parallel slalom. Matthew Morison (CAN), who claimed his first World Cup win this season, also returned home with two medals as he won gold in parallel slalom and silver in parallel giant slalom. Norway's Helene Olafsen, Arosa bronze medallist and 2006 Junior Worlds silver medalist, took the gold in the ladies' snowboardcross. Alexandra Jekova of Bulgaria celebrated two silver medals in Bad Gastein, in snowboardcross and parallel giant slalom, while Markus Schairer (AUT) captured silver in the men's snowboardcross and bronze in parallel slalom. Switzerland's Sina Candrian defended her 2006 Junior Worlds title in big air, as well.
The FIS Speed Skiing World Championships 2007 are currently underway in Verbier (SUI). The competitors have been getting used to the fast slope on Mont Fort since Sunday and completed the Runs 4 & 5 today Wednesday on yet another day of superb weather, and increasing speeds. The semi-final and final runs, culminating in the crowning of the new FIS World Champions are both scheduled to take place tomorrow Thursday. Based on the results so far, the battle for the win will be between the defending World Champion Philippe May of Switzerland and the many-time World Cup winner Simone Origone of Italy, both of whom are racing strong.
The early days of the Championships were overshadowed by a tragic accident of Caitlin Tovar (GBR) who was scheduled to forerun the races. She was seriously injured in a fall on Sunday and succumbed to her injuries in a Grenoble (FRA) hospital on Tuesday. FIS sends its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Caitlin Tovar as well as the entire Speed Skiing community.
|Gianluca Grigoletto (ITA)|
The 8th edition of the FIS Carving Cup was won by Alessandra Merlin (ladies) and Gianluca Grigoletto (men), both of Italy. Merlin and Grigoletto defended their 2006 titles, and as last season, the winners were decided in the last race in Sestriere (ITA).
Unfortunately, due to a lack of snow this season, just five races were staged despite a calendar that originally included eight races. In the races held, Mauro Robustelli (SUI) - the official course setter for the FIS Carving Cup - was able to design technical runs, thanks to the good snow on the steep racing slopes which provided a perfect opportunity for proper carving motion and tactics. It should be remembered that, in carving races, there are a maximum of 20 turns on the slope. For each turn there are 3 buoys: red external (5 points), yellow medium (4 points) and blue internal (3 points). The results are determined by the racing time divided by total points collected on the buoys. As a result, the strategy is often more important than the technique and speed.
The highlight of the season was the 3rd FIS Carving World Challenge, also part of the FIS Carving Cup and recognised as the unofficial World Championships for carving. The men's Carving World Challenge title went to Marco Pastore (GER) with Gianluca Grigoletto and Simone Arfino (both ITA) collecting the silver and bronze, respectively. In the ladies' competition, Italy took the gold medal with Alessandra Merlin while Melanie Brgener won silver for Switzerland and Tina Vrhunc bronze for Slovenia.
The season also included great races for the U-21 athletes that represent 43% of the participants: Good news for an event that started eight years ago just with athletes who previously competed in the Alpine World or European Cup. The largest numbers of young competitors hail from Slovenia, Poland, Czech Republic and Italy. Next season, there will be a minimum of 10 races, held in Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Slovenia, Poland, Germany and, hopefully some other countries too. Each race will award, as usual, _10.000 in prize money, _5.000 divided between the best 20 men and 10 women, and _5.000 for the team ranking. The FIS Carving Cup plans to request the Alpine Skiing Committee at the FIS Calendar Conference in Portoroz to assign the FIS Carving Cup the status of a Continental Cup (i.e. European Cup). This is important to motivate the athletes towards ever bigger goals. There would be no change to the rules and the team formula and the national associations would not need to spend additional money.
Contributed by Marco di Marco
Organizationally, the 2006/2007 season was very challenging for most of the nine FIS Cross-Country Continental Cups. In many cases, competitions had to be moved due to a lack of snow or the organizers delivered extraordinary efforts to stage the planned competitions despite the adverse weather circumstances. Compliments go to all the organizing teams for their valuable efforts and flexibility as well as to the respective Continental Cup coordinators for their significant contributions and creativity in finding solutions to the snow challenges.
Despite the challenging conditions, some 80 races altogether were held in the Cross-Country Continental Cups this season, and almost 500 ladies and nearly 600 men scored points. The respective winners of the various Continental Cups will have a personal starting place in the Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross Country during the first period of the 2007/2008 season. The Continental Cups represent the most important level of competitions below the World Cup and their importance has grown since the national quotas for the World Cup were reduced two seasons ago. Several Cups, most notably the so-called OPA Cup in the Alpine countries, the SuperTour in the US and the Haywood NorAm Canada Cup have shown to be great ground for developing new stars for the world stage.
"The Continental Cup for the OPA Nations provides the basis for the athletes to gain the necessary competition experience that is required for success later on at the World Cup level. The competition program including races in all distances and techniques is put together to test the athletes in all possible ways," said Georg Zipfel, OPA Cup Coordinator since 2002.
"We are really proud of the twelve sites that came together again this winter to organize the SuperTour and put their individual stamp on its identity. What they provide in terms of promotion and sport development is high impact - this year's SuperTour has been the largest yet, with the most sites, spectators, participants, media coverage and prize money. The organizers have developed an exemplary circuit and they are driving Cross-Country forward in the US," noted Luke Bodensteiner, Coordinator of the US SuperTour.
For final standings of most Cups, please click here.
FIS is pleased to welcome Markus Mayr (35) to the team supporting the ladies' Audi FIS Alpine World Cup as of the 2007/08 season. As FIS Race Director Slalom / Giant Slalom, Mayr will be supporting Chief Race Director Atle Skaardal, Race Director Speed Jan Tischhauser and the organizing committees with special responsibility for course preparation of the technical events. A Kitzbuehel (AUT) native, Mayr has been helping various organizers to prepare courses for World Cup and European Cup races for seven years, as well as helping several national teams with training course preparation. Among other assignments, he worked with the Torino Olympic Winter Games Organizing Committee (TOROC) to prepare the courses in Sestriere in 2006. Mayr also brings experience from other sports, especially cycling and mountain biking, in which he actively competed after a ski racing career in his youth. In the summertime, he works in a family business specialized in road and mountain bikes. "I am very much looking forward to putting my experience from the several past seasons to work on the World Cup tour. It will be a great opportunity to work even more closely together with the entire, experienced team at FIS," notes Mayr who will already participate in the FIS Calendar Conference in Portoroz (SLO) in May.
Mayr's predecessor on the ladies' World Cup tour, Hans Pieren (SUI) will assume the position of FIS Race Director Slalom / Giant Slalom on the men's side.˙He will succeed Sepp Messner who stepped down after 18 years at the end of the 2006/07 season. In this role, he will support Gnter Hujara, Chief Race Director for the men, and Helmut Schmalzl, Race Director Speed by collaborating with the organizing committees to prepare the courses for the technical events. A former world-class giant slalom specialist, coach of the Swiss ladies' national team from 1999-2001 and former manager at Fischer Ski Switzerland, Hans Pieren brings multi-faceted experience to the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup. He has also served as Chief of Competition at the Adelboden men's World Cup event since 1995 and will continued to do so in the future as well.
|Tour de Ski debrief in Val di Fiemme|
More than 30 representatives of the organizing committees, hosting National Ski Associations and FIS participated in a debrief session on the inaugural Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski presented by Craft Sportswear held in Val di Fiemme (ITA) on Friday. The agenda included detailed discussion on feedback collected from the various stakeholders, including the jury, organizers, teams and media. Four working groups focused on the details and next steps for specific key areas of organization in order to ensure that the 2nd FIS Tour de Ski will be an even greater success than the first edition.
The four Sub-Committees for Ski Jumping and the Coordination Group also held their traditional spring meetings at the Hotel Hilton Zurich Airport (SUI) at the end of last week. According to the so-called "Funnel System," the proposals of the respective Sub-Committees have now been collected and circulated by the Coordination Group to the National Ski Associations for comment before being dealt with by the Ski Jumping Committee, the Committee for Competition Equipment and the FIS Council in Portoroz (SLO) in May. Included in these proposals is a recommended increase of the minimum BMI (Body Mass Index) from 20.0 to 20.5 with the exception of youth competitions where a maximum ski length would be limited to 143% of body height and no BMI formula would be applied. Additional recommendations include changes in the judging criteria, tasks of the officials, introduction of a minimum age limit for Ski Flying competitions, as well as limiting the number of participants in the World Cup and major title competitions to the best 40 (rather than 50) of the qualification, with the best 10 (rather than 15) present jumpers based on the World Cup rankings being pre-qualified.
The Nordic Combined Executive Board held its 59th Meeting in Prague (CZE) on Sunday. The meeting agenda included a first analysis and discussion of the past season as well as preparation for the upcoming Technical Committee meetings in Portoroz (SLO) in May. Specific attention was paid on calendars for both the Nordic Combined Summer Grand Prix and 2007/2008 season in the Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined. The Board also held initial discussions on recommended changes to the rules and equipment specifications that are being sent to the "Funnel System" soliciting comments from the National Ski Associations before the Spring Meetings.
SportAccord, the annual international sports convention, brings representatives from the 100 International Sports Federations affiliated to GAISF (General Association of International Sports Federations), ASOIF (Association of Summer Olympic International Federations) and AIOWF (Association of the International Olympic Winter Sports Federations) together with sponsors, organizing committees, bidding and host cities, sports lawyers, broadcasters, rights holders and other specialists to discuss the key issues facing the sports industry and to network and exchange ideas. The 5th annual SportAccord takes place in the Shangri-la Hotel in Beijing (CHN) from 23rd - 27th April, 2007. More than 1'200 participants are expected during the congress week that begins with the annual Congresses and General Assemblies of the owner associations GAISF, ASOIF and AIOWF. FIS will be represented by FIS President Gian Franco Kasper who serves as the wintersport's member of the GAISF Council, Sarah Lewis, FIS Secretary General and member of the SportAccord Steering Committee, and Christian Knauth, FIS Marketing & Communications Director. For more details, please visit http://www.sportaccord.com/.
Introduced by the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2005, the on-line Anti-Doping Administration Management System, also known as "ADAMS", is becoming a key working tool for supporting the administrative side of anti-doping, especially for providing information on athletes' whereabouts. The system can be accessed from anywhere in the world through the Internet.
To demonstrate ADAMS and help the National Ski Associations take full advantage of this tool, two workshops will be carried out during the FIS Committee meetings in Portoroz (SLO) on Friday 25th May, from 08.00 - 9.30 and from 10.00 - 11.30. These workshop sessions will consist both of a presentation and practical exercises. To register (deadline April 30th), please click here.
Giovanni Morzenti was elected President of the Italian Winter Sports Federation (FISI) at the extraordinary election meeting in Modena on Saturday, 14th April. The 56-year-old native of Fossano in the province of Piedmont is a former manager of Fiat as well as banker and publicist. Morzenti has served in several management roles at the different levels of Italian skiing, including as President of the Alpi Occidentali regional ski association, while managing the Limone Piemonte Ski Club and Sporting Riserva Bianca.
Together with the regional presidents and military sports groups Morzenti has worked out a program that provides more say to the regional committees, more support to the clubs and enhances promotion for the sport. "FISI has long been the most successful sports association in Italy, winning a total of 18 medals at the last two Olympic Winter Games. Our new team will now be working towards the next big goal at the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010", he promised.
Joe Fitzgerald, FIS Coordinator Freestyle Skiing and Marcel Looze, FIS Race Director Snowboard shared some observations about the 2006/2007 season in their respective World Cups with the FIS Newsflash.
Joe Fitzgerald: "In short, it was surely one of the most difficult seasons I have experienced in my 10 years in this position. The season was especially brutal on the athletes and teams since they were left to make many last minute travel changes. My sincere thanks go to them all for being so flexible and for making the best out of the difficult situation!
In terms of starts, we had a total of 1420 starts (individual athletes participating in all World Cup competitions) which is 53% less than the season before. Though we `optimized' the calendar a bit for this season, we lost 34% of the planned program or 20 of 58 scheduled World Cup events. Unfortunately, we were only able to reschedule 6 events. At the same time however, there were numerous positive aspects to this season. We held Freestyle FIS World Cup competitions in Asia, North America (both USA and Canada) and Europe where 27 nations participated including two new nations, Ireland and Greece. 15 different nations - representing the regions of Asia, Australia, North America and Europe - made the podium, 10 taking victories, so Freestyle Skiing clearly continues to be one of the most universally focused FIS disciplines promoting skiing in all parts of the world - where there is snow!
Due to the difficult snow situation, the organizers had to postpone the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships from early season to the end of season. Thanks to a great team effort between the organizing committee and the FIS officials supporting the event, we crowned eight well-deserving World Champions in Madonna di Campiglio (ITA) in mid-March. And right afterwards, enjoyed very well-organized Junior Worlds in Airolo (SUI) with excellent snow conditions thanks to a seven-day snowstorm prior to the event. I was also very encouraged by the high level of competition we saw in Airolo, which bodes well for the World Cup in a few years.
The greatest challenge with these kinds of seasons is the lack of training opportunities for the athletes in between competitions which increases the risk for injury in competition situations, not to mention the lack of competitions for the emerging youngsters. At the same time, we are challenged to improve our course homologation process based on a new philosophy I call "maximum course, minimum snow." This will require some improvements to the slopes during the off-season so that less snow is required to prepare proper courses. At the same time, we will have to carefully plan the calendar to hold our events where the best snow can be found. For us, this may mean a compressed and temporally shifted season so that we rationalize our early season and then take full advantage of the good snow and less heavily-used infrastructure later on."
Marcel Looze: "On the whole, we had quite a good season in the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World, despite the difficult circumstances. We were able to work together with the various organizing committees in a very flexible manner and find solutions to most snow challenges. A great compliment goes to the riders, coaches and the National Ski Associations who did all they could to participate in the competitions. At the lower levels, such as in the European Cup, the season was unfortunately much more difficult.
The outstanding FIS Snowboard World Championships in Arosa (SUI) were the absolute highlight of the year. We had superb races, excellent media coverage and good promotion for the sport. Just last week, we finished the season with one of the best ever FIS Junior World Snowboard Championships in Bad Gastein (AUT), even if held without half-pipe since the Organizer stepped in at the eleventh hour just two months before the event to ensure the young riders could have their season highlight. We will make sure to have half-pipe included in the next Junior Worlds. Otherwise, I am especially pleased about the increasing quality of the courses and of event organization we saw this season, two key criteria for attracting the best riders. It was the first year we implemented the concept of specialist technical advisors supporting the organizers and their contribution was excellent. By arriving early at the competition venues, the technical advisors - all of whom are absolute Snowboard professionals - could help the organizers prepare the courses to the highest standards and ensure top event quality. In particular we saw this at the snowboardcross races in Japan, USA and Canada where we held really first class competitions on great courses. The same goes for our half-pipe events. Beside great events in Europe and Asia, in Calgary (CAN), we tested the pipe built according to the new specifications for Olympic Winter Games. It was an important opportunity for the riders to start getting used to the dimensions of a longer and steeper pipe. The Technical Advisors also made a difference in parallel races which may need a bit less snow but proper courses all the while. And the big air events with the new knock-out rules were great and enjoyed by lots of spectators.
Right now we are working on the calendar for the 2007/2008 season. We hope to have some summer events again both in South-America and Oceania. We are also discussing opportunities for additional cooperation with Nokia on the basis of our long-lasting relationship which I believe is a true win-win partnership for both sides. At the upcoming Committee meetings, we will probably discuss some little tweaks to the knock-out system to maximize the value to the public, in addition to all regular business."