News from the World of Skiing 

  Speed Skiing gold for Origone (ITA) and Tidstrand (SWE) ... more

  Janica Kostelic (CRO) retires ... more

  Norway also on top of Junior Worlds medals table ... more


 Council's Corner 

  Q&A with Patrick Smith (CAN) ... more


 Inside FIS 

  Great progress for Liberec 2009 ... more

  FIS ISS Update: Successful interviews with 866 FIS World Cup athletes ... more


 Member News 

  Huge interest in design competition for new Holmekollen hill ... more

  OPA Nordics look into future ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

Speed Skiing gold for Origone (ITA) and Tidstrand (SWE)
May and Origone battled for the title
Mont Fort in Verbier (SUI)

Last week, the world's best Speed Skiing racers gathered in Verbier-Nendaz (SUI) to contest the 2007 FIS Speed Skiing World Championships. The station pulled out every stop to provide the perfect environment for the championships, attended by 58 athletes from 12 nations. In the course of the championships,˙over 330 individual runs were completed˙from four different start heights, the last one 430m above and 880m from the finish line.

The ladies' competition was particularly fiercely contested between the Swedish triumvirate of Anna-Karin Modin, Sanna Tidstrand and Emilie Wolff, pitted against Tracie Sachs (USA), the current World Cup Champion, and Elena Banfo (ITA); the finish order of these five racers changed with each run. In the final run, Tidstrand maintained her lead over Banfo, with Wolff in 3rd place. This was a tremendous result for their manager Per Kjelstrom and the whole Swedish team that has established an elite training program for Speed Skiing.

The men's competition was equally exciting. Most surprising was the consistent challenge provided by the Production Class skiers who made up 25% of the field and, while the slowest racers were cut after each run, Markus Muenzer (AUT) remained in contention up to and including the semi-final run. The classical field included previous World Champion Jukka Viitasaari (FIN), Ross Anderson (USA), Marc Poncin (GBR) and John `Mad Cow' Hemble, who came out of retirement for the event. However, it was Bastien Montes (FRA) who kept the large audience guessing, eventually clinching bronze despite having been much further down the field during the training runs. Meanwhile, it was less surprising that Simone Origone (ITA), the men's World Cup Champion, and Philippe May (SUI ) - one of the principle organizers as well as a first-rate athlete - battled it out for gold. With three first places each in the training runs, Origone finally secured the trophy and title of World Champion by prevailing by a margin of 2/1000ths of a second over May.

Contributed by Dick Taplin

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Janica Kostelic (CRO) retires
Janica Kostelic (CRO)

The most successful Alpine Skiing racer in the last decade announced her retirement at the age of 25. "I would like to keep racing but am scared to get injured again. The risk of injury would be there if I continue. I do not want to suffer again," said Janica Kostelic in a press conference in her home city of Zagreb on Thursday. "The pressure is off. I want to enjoy life now."

Janica Kostelic won four Olympic gold medals (2002 giant slalom, slalom, combined, 2006 combined) and became FIS World Champion five times (2003 slalom, combined, 2005 downhill, slalom, combined). She also won the overall World Cup three times (2001, 2003, 2006) and captured 30 World Cup victories. She is one of only three athletes - the others being Petra Kronberger (AUT) and Pernilla Wiberg (SWE) - to have claimed victories in all five FIS World Cup events. She captured her first World Cup podium as a 16-year-old in a slalom in Park City (USA) in 1998 and her first World Cup victory just two months later in St. Anton (AUT) in a combined race. Kostelic's career was plagued by many injuries, beginning with a severe fall in St. Moritz (SUI) in December 1999 that caused serious knee injury and led to first of many operations. She also had to have surgery on her thyroid in 2004 and due to continuous pain in her knees and back, already decided to take a break from racing this season.

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Norway also on top of Junior Worlds medals table

Four official FIS Junior World Championships were staged during the 2006/2007 season. The 26th FIS Alpine Junior World Ski Championships took place in Flachau/Altenmarkt/Zauchensee (AUT) from 4th - 11th March, 2007. In great conditions and impeccably carried out by the experienced World Cup organizers, the speed events were raced in Zauchensee and the technical events in Flachau. Originally scheduled for 29th January-4th February in Tarvisio (ITA), the FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships - were postponed together with the under-23 Cross-Country Championships to 12th-18th March, 2007. Thanks to great efforts by the organizers who despite lack of snow and very warm temperatures were able to stage the Cross-Country Skiing competitions in Tarvisio (ITA) and the Ski Jumping competitions in nearby Planica (SLO). The 3rd FIS Freestyle Junior World Ski Championships were organized at a very high level by Ticino Freestyle in Airolo (SUI) from 16th March -19th March. The season's last Junior Worlds were the 11th FIS Snowboard Junior World Championships held in Bad Gastein (AUT) from 10th-13th April.

At the top of the 2006/2007 Junior World Championships medals table is Norway which won six gold medals among its 14 total medals. Norway also topped the medals table for this year's FIS World Championships ahead of Austria. The most Junior Worlds medals, 23, were won by Austria. Both Switzerland and USA won 11 medals, while Finland collected nine and Sweden eight. Slovenia gathered four gold medals, and a total of seven medals, thanks to the great performances by its young slalom skiers and ski jumpers. All in all, 22 nations won medals at this year's four FIS Junior World Championships.

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 Council's Corner 

Q&A with Patrick Smith (CAN)
Justice Patrick Smith (CAN)

This week we feature some questions and answers with FIS Council Member Patrick Smith (CAN).

Q. You are Chairman of the FIS Doping Panel. Would you please comment on the significance of the Panel and on the meaning to FIS of the current review process for the WADA code, expected to culminate at the Third World Conference on Doping in Sport taking place in Madrid, Spain, in November 2007?

A. The creation of the FIS Doping Panel has provided a professional body to hear cases where the athlete believes that they either have a defense to the adverse analytical finding or some explanation that helps mitigate the sentence. This provides a sense of fairness and faith in the system which is critical to any system where the rights of individuals are in jeopardy.

I believe that the Madrid conference will result in several changes to the WADA code that will simplify it, bring it into conformity with the reality of athletic training and competition as well as to generally improve how it is implemented.

Q. The next Olympic Winter Games will take place in Vancouver, Canada, in 2010. One of the associated initiatives is the Own the Podium 2010 program that sees special potential for Canada to medal especially in Snowboard and Freestyle Skiing. Your thoughts?

A. The 2010 preparations are proceeding much ahead of schedule so we can expect to see all venues completed very early to allow for training and competition far in advance of the OWG. The Own the Podium initiative is very successful in raising funding that will assist the Canadian athletes in reaching the podium. In fact, as was demonstrated by the results of our teams this last season, we are already experiencing positive results. For example, the Canadian Alpine Team set an all time record for podiums even breaking the record of the Crazy Canucks.

Q. Quite unlike most of Europe, it has been a great winter especially in Western Canada in terms of snow. What do you think these types of seasons mean to children and what could FIS be doing more to ensure that children and the youth stay interested in our sports?

A. The winter in Canada and especially out West was spectacular with excellent snow conditions. Unfortunately, Europe did not have the same experience with the result that numerous races were cancelled. The impact that this will have on children cannot be understated since I believe that if they once forced to sit out an entire season they are tempted to gravitate to other sports with the result that an entire generation of children may be lost. This can and will have a devastating effect on the sport in general and will naturally affect FIS. If this pattern continues FIS - as well as the entire ski industry - will need to rethink where events are held to endure that they can be carried out.

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 Inside FIS 

Great progress for Liberec 2009
Coordination Group in Liberec Town Hall
Site visit at Vesec Cross-Country venue

The Coordination Group for Liberec 2009 met on site in Liberec (CZE) last Wednesday and Thursday, April 18-19th. The participants included representatives of the organizing committee, FIS, EBU as the TV rights holder and its marketing partner APF, and the Oslo 2011 organizing committee. The two-day meeting consisted of a visit to the competition venues and a detailed review of the Liberec team's current state of preparations in the main areas of event organization, as well as a discussion of lessons learned during the 2007 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Sapporo that were visited by a 24-member delegation from Liberec.

"We were very pleased to hear about the significant overall progress made by the organizing committee in all areas. But we were especially impressed about the great steps taken to complete the constructions at the Jestěd (Ski Jumping) and Vesec (Cross-Country Skiing) competition venues which will host the important World Cup events next season that will serve as the principle test events," noted FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis. "We are encouraged to receive high marks for the current state of construction at both competition venues. The deadline is quite clear for us: the entire infrastructure must be completed by this fall," said Roman Kumpost, President of the Liberec 2009 Organizing Committee. FIS Council Member and President of the Norwegian Ski Association, Sverre Seeberg, who led the Oslo 2011 delegation remarked: "We have already learned a lot by listening to the experiences by the young and enthusiastic Liberec team. In Norway, as here in the Czech Republic, the home of the world's oldest National Ski Association, we will have to manage a delicate compromise between new ideas and a long skiing tradition."

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FIS ISS Update: Successful interviews with 866 FIS World Cup athletes
ISS interview in progress

Research teams from the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center interviewed 866 World Cup athletes in regard to injuries sustained during the 2006-2007 season. The interviews covered all World Cup athletes from nine nations, and included all the FIS Olympic disciplines: Alpine Skiing, Cross Country Skiing, Ski Jumping, Nordic Combined Freestyle and Snowboarding.

The athletes were interviewed at eight different events in Europe and the United States. They were asked if they had had any acute injuries this season and about the circumstances surrounding each injury, its severity (information on how long the athletes were out of competition or training), as well as specific diagnosis of each injury. Team coaches and physiotherapists were also interviewed regarding season-ending injuries for athletes not completing the season.

The research teams were met with great interest and willingness to contribute information by the athletes, coaches, event organizers and other support staff. The interviews are part of a validation study for the FIS Injury Surveillance System (ISS). The FIS ISS was established in 2006 by the International Ski Federation in cooperation with Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, and with financial support from DJO Incorporated. DJO Incorporated is a leading edge sports medicine company that provides a range of brace products through its DonJoy brand and supports science projects that develop programs and treatments helping prevent injuries or rehabilitate them more quickly. The objective of the FIS ISS is to record and analyze injuries sustained by elite skiers and snowboarders and use this information to reduce the risk of injuries in the future.

The preliminary results will be presented to the FIS Medical Commission at the FIS Calendar Conference in Portoroz in May, and more detailed reports on the injury pattern in each of the disciplines will be presented to all the relevant FIS commissions at their September meetings in Zurich (SUI). For more information on the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, please visit www.ostrc.no. For more information on the FIS ISS, download the FIS ISS brochure here or an overview presentation here.

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 Member News 

Huge interest in design competition for new Holmenkollen hill
The icon of Oslo: Ski Jumping hill on Holmenkollen

Two weeks after the design competition for the new Holmenkollen ski jumping hill was announced, there have been requests from 170 architects from 27 different countries for the competition program. The modern new hill, a key part of Oslo's candidature for the 2011 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, will replace the old hill originally dating to 1892. The project is to be completed by the World Championship test competitions to be held in 2010 and is expected to cost _100 million.

Architects representing countries such as Australia, China, India, Israel, Iran, Taiwan, Japan and Greece, as well as several from USA, Canada, France and Great Britain have expressed interest in the competition for which the winner will be announced on 1st September. The submissions are due by 25th June.

"Holmenkollen is internationally well-known, and often recognized as an icon of Oslo. The interest from the entire world is exciting. When a female Indian architect living in London won the design competition for the new Bergisel hill in Innsbruck a couple of years ago, it became clear that designing such structures is not reserved for Nordic people," said Holmenkollen director Steinar Eidaker.

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OPA Nordics look into future
OPA Nordic Commission in Abano Terme

The annual Spring Meeting of the OPA (Organisation des F‚d‚rations de Ski des Pays Alpin) Nordic Commission took place in the famous Abano Terme (ITA) on 21st April. 21 representatives of the three Nordic disciplines from seven nations used the chance to review the past - and very challenging - season, and to discuss and brainstorm on ideas to develop the Nordic ski sports in the Alpine region in the future.

"The OPA competitions are besides the Junior World Ski Championships one of the most important series for athletes to gain experience for the World Cup, Continental Cup or World Cup B-levels. Their importance has grown in the last few years and we all, together with the National Ski Associations, must continue to pay attention to them", said Karl-Heinz Lickert, Chairman of the OPA Nordic Commission.

Besides calendar planning for the three Nordic disciplines and the appointment of France as the host for the OPA Nordic Ski Games on 1st-2nd March 2008, the most important decision was the change of procedure for the Nordic Commission. In the future, the Nordic Commission will schedule its main decision-making meeting in the autumn while each discipline will hold their separate working meetings in the spring.

The meeting also marked the end of an era: Georg Zipfel retired as the OPA Cross-Country Coordinator after five years. Great thanks to Georg for a job well done and for displaying such enthusiasm for his work! In the future, the Cross-Country section will be managed by a Coordinating Commission, where each member country will have a representative.

Contributed by Sandra Spitz

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