|News from the World of Skiing|
The FIS Council held its first official meeting of the year at the Hotel Bernardin in Portoroz (SLO) on Monday, 28th May. After concluding a winter with a full schedule of FIS World Championships, the Council had many topics on its agenda and made several important decisions. For a summary of the Council's decisions, please click here; the Short Summary of the most important Council Decisions will be sent to all National Ski Associations in the coming days.
|News from the World of Skiing|
Among other items, the FIS Council approved the FIS World Cup calendars for the 2007/2008 season.
For the sixth time in a row, the Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country season will kick off on the Rhine promenade in the old town of Dsseldorf (GER) on October 27th-28th. Also for the sixth time, all the three Nordic disciplines will come together for the Nordic Opening at Ruka, Kuusamo (FIN) on the weekend of 30th November-2nd December, a week later than in the previous years. The Nordic Opening traditionally represents the official start of the season for the e.on ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping and the Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined.
A newcomer on the Ski Jumping calendar is Kranj (SLO) with a competition on 16th December while Villach (AUT) returns to the circuit after a six-year-absence with its night competition on 14th December as does Val di Fiemme (Predazzo, ITA) in mid-January. A debutant on the Nordic Combined side is Klingenthal (GER) which will host two races from 19th-20th January. The early season highlights for the Nordic disciplines include for Cross-Country Skiing, the second Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski performance by Craft Sportswear from 28th December - 6th January, for Ski Jumping the 56th Jack Wolfskin Four-Hills-Tournament from 30th December - 6th January, and for Nordic Combined the Warsteiner Grand Prix Germany from 30th December - 6th January. The true highlight of the Ski Jumping season will be the FIS Ski Flying World Championships to be held in Oberstdorf (GER) from 22nd- 24th February 2008.
Given the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Liberec (CZE) in 2009, all the Nordic disciplines will hold test events there in February, Ski Jumping from 8th-9th and Cross-Country Skiing and Nordic Combined from 15th-17th. The three Nordic disciplines will also be staged together at the Lahti Ski Games (FIN) from 29th February-2nd March and at the traditional Holmenkollen Ski Festival (NOR) from 8th-9th March. The Scandinavian Tour for the Nordic disciplines will be one of the highlights for the National Ski Associations of Sweden, Finland and Norway, all of which celebrate their 100th anniversary in 2008. Oslo will represent the season finals for Nordic Combined while the Ski Jumping season will culminate on the world's largest Ski Flying hill in Planica (SLO) from 14th-16th March.
In the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup, both the ladies' and men's season will start with the glacier giant slalom opening in Slden (AUT) on 27th-28th October. The successful slalom opening at Levi (FIN) will be continued on 10th-11th November before both tours head overseas to North America. Both Crans-Montana (SUI) for the ladies and Bad Kleinkirchheim (AUT) for the men return to the schedule after a ten-year break. In light of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver (CAN), the first test events will be held at the future Olympic venue on February 21st-23rd for both the ladies and men. The ladies and men's events will be held together a total of five times next season; besides Slden, Levi and Vancouver, this will happen in Zagreb (CRO) in mid-February and at the Big Finals in Bormio (ITA). The Big Finals, from 12th -16th March will represent the season conclusion for Cross-Country, Alpine, Freestyle and Snowboard.
As has become a tradition, the Freestyle FIS World Cup will commence in the Southern hemisphere at Mt. Buller (AUS) with two aerials competitions on 8th - 9th September. Altogether the season will include 19 venues in 14 nations on four continents, including the first test events at Cypress Mountain (CAN), the future venue for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and the official pre-World Championships at Inawashiro (JPN) from 15th-17th February. One of the highlights of the Freestyle calendar is the city aerials event planned in Moscow on 2nd March.
The Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup will also launch in the Southern hemisphere, at Cardrona (NZE) with a half-pipe event. The boarder crossers will launch their season in South America in Valle Nevado (CHI) from 26th-29th September 2006 while the alpine boarders kick off indoors in Landgraaf (NED) on October 12th. This season, the spectacular city Big Airs will be held in Rotterdam (NED), Stockholm (SWE), Sofia (BUL), Graz (AUT) and Moscow (RUS). The test event for the 2009 FIS Snowboard World Championships in Gangwon Province (KOR) will be staged from 15th-17th February.
|Michel Vion (FRA)|
FIS Newsflash was able to catch up with FIS Council Member Michel Vion (FRA) following the meeting held at Portoroz (SLO) during the FIS Calendar Conference last week between the ski industry's organization SRS (Ski Racing Suppliers), led by Co-President Gregor Dietachmayr of Fischer, and the National Ski Associations' ski pool representatives.
Q. France and Val d'Isere will host the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in 2009, the first in France in 47 years and the third ever. In your view, how are the preparations progressing?
A. A lot of work had already been done in preparation for and during the Candidacy so the starting point for the organization was solid. Work on the slopes is progressing and while a lot remains to be done and the expectations are high, we continue to push hard. One of the biggest challenges is finalizing the structure for the two face-to-face competition slopes with a common finish area. However, all slopes are now ready to be tested during the upcoming season's pre-World Championship events. There has been some delay with the construction of the new sports center that will serve as the organization and media center but we are confident that these issues will be solved and the project will be realized with all the necessary requirements. We are confident that Val d'Isere will be ready on time, have excellent infrastructure and deliver successful FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in 2009.
Of course, as we saw this year in Sweden, a strong national team is a key component of successful championships, especially for creating interest in Alpine Skiing which is one of our main goals. At the same time, much work is being invested to ensure a wonderful atmosphere through side events and free entry to all the races, which will help us deliver a great skiing experience for all our visitors.
Q. Given your position as Director of Racing at Rossignol, how do you see the equipment industry's role within FIS?
A. Fundamentally, the equipment industry should not be considered as a sponsor but as an essential partner. While FIS governs the system, the industry is working at all levels from the elite racing to youth and children's cups, let alone the leisure segment. On an annual basis, the industry invests more than _80 million in making the wheels turn. Currently, we are experiencing a very difficult period and more than ever, increased cooperation between FIS and the industry, through SRS, is required. While FIS has been receptive to our concerns in the past, pressure from the National Ski Associations (NSAs) has prevented real progress. Currently, there is a real urgency of action and the SRS is better organized with clearer ideas of what it needs. Ultimately, however, we all - FIS, NSAs and SRS - are sitting in the same boat and need to agree on improvements to everyone's benefit. I personally have high expectations for the working group between FIS and the industry to be chaired by FIS President Gian Franco Kasper.
Q. The initial sales figures for ski equipment from this season show a dramatic drop. Is this due to one bad season or a long-term trend?
A. The long term figures show decreasing sales over a period of time so this is more of a general problem. Skiing has become to be seen as expensive, weather-dependent and perhaps little less trendy. There are more and more leisure opportunities available, be it sports or other activities. I am not concerned about the end of ski sports - they will survive - but rather that the industry may have to reconsider its relative investment in racing. Collectively, however, we as the industry together with FIS, NSAs and ski resorts must continue to interest young people under the age of 18 for skiing. Research has shown that this age is critical for determining adult behavior. In practice, this means that we need new ideas for technology, equipment, events, pricing practices and more; anything to make skiing more attractive to children and the youth!
Some 450 members of the extended FIS family, including several hundred members of the FIS Technical Committees and numerous representatives of the Member National Ski Associations and several Organizing Committees convened in Portoroz (SLO) last week for the traditional FIS Calendar Conference and the spring meetings of the FIS Technical Committees.
The discussions focused on reviewing the past season, setting the basis for additional analysis and tests over the summer months while launching preparations for the upcoming 2007/2008 season.
|Photo: Agence Zoom|
Cross-Country Skiing: Creating season highlights
Under the leadership of Chairman Vegard Ulvang (NOR), the FIS Cross-Country Committee spent time on finalizing the calendar (view it here) for the upcoming season and reviewing rules for both the World Cup as well as the FIS Tour de Ski. As part of next season's schedule, it decided to introduce a three-day competition series as an end of the season highlight, the so-called `FIS World Cup Final'.
The Final will start with a prologue in the classical style, continue with another distance race and culminate in a handicap start over 10km / 15 km in the free technique. Overall World Cup points will be awarded only after the last competition with the factor of two which means that the winner will get 200 points for the competition weekend. The total prize money (both genders) for the Finals weekend will be CHF 240'000.
The Committee also appointed Karl-Heinz Lickert (GER) as its Vice Chairman. Moreover, it decided to continue the trials for changing skis in the middle of the race, this time in a mass start event as well. Finally, to reduce accidents, it was decided that the athlete support staff must stand in their place in the feeding zone rather than running along with the athletes. For more details on changes within Cross-Country and the Tour de Ski, please click here.
|Photo: Agence Zoom|
Ski Jumping: Tighter quotas and better preparation
The FIS Jumping Committee, headed by Jouko Trmnen (FIN), held its spring meeting in Portoroz. The four Sub-Committees for Ski Jumping had already held their traditional spring meetings in Zurich (SUI) on 13th-14th April, and their proposals were submitted through the so-called Funnel System during which the National Ski Associations have a chance to provide their comments.
Following consideration of the NSA feedback by the Jumping Committee, several proposals were forwarded to the Council. The most important Council decisions included the approval of the World Cup calendar 2007/2008 (see here) as well as of the increased importance of the qualification as all jumpers, except the 10 best present in the current WCJ standing, will have to participate in the qualification round. At the same time, the quotas were reduced so that the very maximum number of participants by nation is limited to seven (instead of eight). Fewer Continental Cup athletes can be included, and the World Cup leader no longer holds a personal spot outside the national quota. Additional changes approved include specifications to the judging criteria (especially increased penalty for falls), introduction of a minimum age limit (18) for Ski Flying fore jumpers and use of height rather than BMI (Body Mass Index) table in the youth category for determining the maximum ski length. Amendments to the roles of the various FIS officials on-site will also help to clarify their roles and that of the Technical Delegate and especially the Assistant TD who will be specifically trained to help with venue preparations.
Meeting for the first time, the Sub-Committee for Ski Jumping Youth and Children's Issues conducted a consultative session inviting the National Ski Associations to submit concerns and proposals to be discussed in the next meeting and passed on to the Jumping Committee.
|Photo: Agence Zoom|
Nordic Combined: Compact sprint formalized
Following the spring meeting of the Nordic Combined Executive Board in Prague on 15th April, a number of proposals were submitted through the Funnel System. After consideration by the FIS Nordic Combined Committee under Chairman Harald Aarhus (NOR) in Portoroz, a few were submitted to the FIS Council for approval.
Besides the World Cup and Summer Grand Prix calendars, the amendments approved by the FIS Council included the formalization of the `sprint compact' format in the International Competition Rules after two successful events were held at the World Cup level last season. This competition format enables combining both disciplines (Ski Jumping and Cross-Country) within a short period of time. Only the starting time for the Jumping competition is set beforehand and a break of 25 minutes between the two parts is recommended. The staging of this format requires sufficient organisational preparedness and close proximity of both competition sites.
Specifications were also approved to the rules for the team sprint, including that half of the points won in a team events may be counted in the overall World Cup points of an individual athlete. In the future, the team sprint will be held only with one jump but with the current calculation system (30 points per minute). The Committee also specified the procedure for any potential change of events during title competitions, solidified the role and tasks of the equipment controller in the World Cup Rules, and extended the green phase in the starting light system from 5 seconds to 10 seconds.
With the first FIS World Championships in ladies' Ski Jumping just a season away (Liberec 2009) and the junior championships in ladies Ski Jumping well established, the first 'open' Nordic Combined competitions will be held in Klingenthal (GER) as part of the `Schler' Summer Grand Prix on 24th August 2007.
|Photo: Agence Zoom|
Alpine Skiing: Focus on speed event starting order and calendar planning
The FIS Alpine Committee, under guidance of Toni Sailer (AUT), had a full agenda. Of special focus was the determination of a new start order for the speed events (downhill, super-G and super combined). This was approved by the FIS Council as a draw: The best fifteen present competitors of the event WCSL are drawn between starting numbers 16 to 22 (for WCSL 1 to 7) and 8 to 15 (for WCSL 8 to 15). The remaining athletes up to WCSL 30 are drawn within the start numbers 1 to 7 and 23 to 30.
Other important topics included the guidelines for calendar planning. In the future, the FIS World Cup calendars will include approximately 42 competitions during years without title events and 36 in years with title events, divided in a balanced manner across the five individual events and the nations' team event. For the confirmed 2007/2008 calendar prepared on the basis of the new procedure, please view here for the ladies and for men.
Further discussions were held to approve a trial for delayed gates to be conducted during the Southern hemisphere winter. The various Intercontinental Cups reported on the successful introduction of the super combined across the board. Within European Cup, specific concern was raised regarding the difficulty to provide racing and training opportunities for speed events, especially downhill. At the same time, the European Cup schedule for 2007/08 will after again include indoor events for both the ladies and men after a one-year break. For complete calendars please see here for the ladies and men.
The new Sub-committee for Alpine Youth and Children's Issues chaired by Ken Read (CAN), who is also Chairman of the coordination group for all discipline sub-committees for Youth and Children's Issues held its first meeting, launching a dialogue with the SRS on equipment issues and reporting on a number of positive initiatives already underway.
|Photo: Agence Zoom|
Freestyle Skiing: Rule specifications and increased coordination
The FIS Freestyle Committee, under the leadership of Chris Robinson (CAN), focused on the development of the equipment rules and course specifications. As approved by the Council, back protectors are now recommended to be used in all Freestyle events. Rules for the ski cross suit were also established. The Committee defined rules to enable the staging of a team aerials event at the 2009 Winter Universiade in Harbin (CHN). Moreover, refinements in the course specifications were established for air bumps in moguls. The aim was to standardize their size and location on the course. At the same time, the Committee defined rules for standardization of take-off shapes in aerials. Finally, several precisions were made to the rules for ski cross that will allow the future development of the event especially in light of its acceptance to the Olympic Winter Games in 2010. For example, rules regarding allowed vs. forbidden contact were further specified.
A so-called `Snow Cross Cooperation' coordination group consisting of FIS experts including the discipline managers for Freestyle (Joe Fitzgerald), Snowboard (Marcel Looze) and Alpine (Janez Flere) was also established. This group will collaborate on questions that arise across the disciplines especially related to ski cross and snowboard cross where each of the disciplines can support the development with different areas of expertise..
For the Freestyle FIS World Cup calendar, see here.
|Photo: Agence Zoom|
Snowboard: Around the world and into the future
The FIS Snowboard Committee headed by Bill Slattery (USA) was able to finalize a calendar that will see the Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup visit all five continents during a season extending from late August 2007 to mid-March 2008 (for full details click here). Besides the meetings of the various Working Groups and the Snowboard Coordination Group, the Snowboard Task Force considered various ways to further develop the sport especially through innovative marketing and communication activities. Examples of such new ideas considered include fewer, but bigger events especially on the freestyle side, increase TV exposure and grow visibility through the use of the new media.
The approval by the FIS Council to set the minimum age limit for participation in international slopestyle and half-pipe competitions at 13 (the riders must have reached their 13th birthday before the end of the calendar year in question) was an important step to ensure the competitiveness of the FIS Snowboard programs. Moreover, the Council approved the proposal of the Advertising Matters Committee that the top of snowboards may carry the commercial marking of the effective producer, as well as up to five other sponsors within a total size of 250 cm2. This will keep the door open for additional sponsorship opportunities for the riders and their teams.
FIS would like to express its most sincere apologies to the Ski Association of Slovenia for the mistakes in the FIS Directory, May 2007 Edition.
Please note the correct details for the Ski Association of Slovenia and the FIS Ski Flying World Championships 2010 below:
Ski Association of Slovenia
Tel office: +386.1.513.68.00
For any feedback on the FIS Directory, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.