News from the World of Skiing 

  Sunny snowboard cross in Chile, big air & parallel to kick off ... more

  FIS Grand Prix Ski Jumping finals in Germany ... more

  Grass Skiing season wraps up ... more


 Inside FIS 

  Val d'IsŠre hard at work before the test event season ... more

  Progress in Liberec ... more

  Planning the future of skiing in Zurich ... more

  Geoff Henke turns 80 ... more

  Tragic death of Klaus Hardt ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

Sunny snowboard cross in Chile, parallel & big air to kick off
In the heat of competition
Photo: Oliver Kraus
Ladies' podium in Valle Nevado (CHI)
Photo: Oliver Kraus

After the first two snowboard cross competitions in the 2007/08 NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup season, Maelle Ricker (CAN) and Stian Sivertzen (NOR) are proud to be wearing the yellow World Cup leader's jerseys. Ricker had an excellent trip to the sunny slopes of Valle Nevado (CHI) as she collected a win and a 2nd place. In the first race, Lindsey Jacobellis (USA) the reigning 2007 World Champion in snowboard cross, edged Ricker in the ladies' final. Thanks to a strong second place finish on Saturday, Mellie Francon of Switzerland now ranks 3rd in the World Cup standings behind Jacobellis.

On the men's side, Stian Sivertzen celebrated a start-to-finish victory in the first race on Wednesday. In the second competition, the 2007 junior World Champion was overtaken by Pierre Vaultier of France in the middle of the run, but managed to keep the 2nd place ahead of Xavier Delerue (FRA) and Drew Neilson (CAN), the defending snowboard cross World Cup title holder. Vaultier is ranked 2nd behind Sivertzen. The World Cup snowboard cross series will resume in January.

The NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup will continue with the opening of the big air season in Rotterdam (NED) this coming Sunday, 7th October. This will the second FIS big air show near the Erasmus Bridge in the Dutch city. 71 riders from 14 nations have registered for the contest. The alpine riders, then, will kick off the parallel season in SnowWorld indoor ski hall in Landgraaf (NED) on 12th October.

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FIS Grand Prix Ski Jumping finals in Germany
Klingenthal hill ready for Grand Prix finals
Photo: OC Klingenthal

The 14th edition of the FIS Grand Prix Ski Jumping will culminate this week in Oberhof and Klingenthal (both GER). On Wednesday, Oberhof serves as host to the second-to-last summer competition on the large hill in Kanzlersgrund.˙Several teams including Norway and Czech Republic have been training in Oberhof since last weekend, benefiting from excellent conditions and warm & clear autumn weather.

The 11th and this summer's last FIS Grand Prix competition will take place in Klingenthal (GER). The large hill in Vogtland Arena at Schwarzberg - inaugurated last summer - will host the final on Saturday, 6th October.

Thomas Morgenstern (AUT) leads the 2007 FIS Grand Prix standings with 500 points, 40 points more than 2nd-ranked Adam Malysz (POL; 460 points) and 141 points ahead of Andreas Kttel (SUI; 359 points) in 3rd place.

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Grass Skiing season wraps up
Nadja Vogel (SUI)
Photo: Grasski.net

The leaves changing colors also signals the end of the 2007 FIS Grass Skiing season. The 15th FIS Grass Skiing World Championships, held in Olesnice (CZE) from 6th-9th September, were one of the season highlights, together with the Junior World Ski Championships in Welschenofen/Nova Levante (ITA) in August. The star of the season was the only 17-year-old four-time world champion Nadja Vogel of Switzerland who also collected three junior titles. On the men's side, Jan Nemec (CZE), the winner of slalom and super combined, and Fausto Cerentin (ITA), who took the honors in giant slalom and super-G, led the field. The greatest surprise of the championships was the 2nd place for 22-year-old Yukiyo Shintani (JPN) in the ladies' slalom, her first podium place at the senior level!

The Grass Skiing World Cup ended with the finals held in Rettenbach/Bad Tatzmannsdorf (AUT) 13-16th September where nine nations participated. The World Cup winner trophies went to Ingrid Hirschhoffer (AUT) in the ladies and to Jan Nemec (CZE) in the men's rankings. The winner of the Nations' Cup was Italy. For more details and season results, please visit the FIS Grass Skiing Committee's homepage at www.grasski.de.

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 Inside FIS 

Val d'IsŠre hard at work before the test event season
Snow canon on Solaise
Photo: OC Val d'Isere

The latest meeting of the Coordination Group for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2009 in Val d'IsŠre (FRA) took place during the FIS Autumn Meetings in Zurich (SUI). Jean Luc Fabre, officially appointed as the new Managing Director and Executive President on September 25th, led a delegation with more than 10 organizing committee members. New in his role, Mr. Fabre stated: "I shall leave myself a month to take stock of the situation and to find solutions for aspects of the project currently in difficulty."

Special focus in the coming weeks will be paid to confirming appropriate accommodation facilities especially for the international media and to completing the marketing and communications team. Val d'IsŠre Mayor Bernard Catelan confirmed that the town council has approved the construction of a sports center last week. Work will begin immediately and the sports center will serve as the Main Press Center (MPC) and as the International Broadcasting Center (IBC) during the championships.

Preparations at the sports venues continue and the test events, the ladies' FIS Alpine World Cup races in December and the men's events in February, will be staged as scheduled. FIS Chief Race Director Gnter Hujara, who conducted the final site inspection early last week, stated: "I am confident that we will be ready on time to carry out the races as planned. With the imminent arrival of the winter, the installation of safety measures still presents a challenge but efforts on site have been increased to the necessary levels and the work is progressing well."

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Progress in Liberec
The Vesec Cross-Country venue
Photo: OC Liberec

Zurich also played host to the second meeting in 2007 of the FIS Coordination Group for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2009 in Liberec (CZE) last week. Led by newly-appointed President Katerina Neumannova and Executive Director Marek Rejman, the organizing committee provided an update on its progress, in particular with the sports venues and organization. It reported that work at the new Cross-Country Skiing area `Vesec' is as good as complete, including the paving of the courses for roller skiing and in-line skating, finalization of bridges, access roads and permanent facilities, as well as installation of the snow-making system. At the same time, construction continues in the `Jested' Ski Jumping area, with scheduled completion in mid-December. The February test events, on 9th-10th February for Ski Jumping and 15th-17th February for Cross-Country and Nordic Combined, will be held as planned.

As a next step, the Organizing Committee will be focusing on confirming the sports organization including all technical officials in competition management, and shifting a gear on the promotional front, in marketing for the test events and launching a new web site. The city of Liberec has confirmed government financing for the outstanding projects such as the re-construction of the university campus which will then serve as the team accommodation.

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Planning the future of skiing in Zurich
Hotel Hilton Zurich Airport
Photo: Hilton

Over 400 members of the FIS Technical Committees together with numerous representatives of the National Ski Associations and Organizing Committees gathered for the traditional FIS Technical Committees' Autumn Meetings in Zurich last week. Now held at Hotel Hilton Zurich Airport (SUI) for the 6th year in a row, the sessions took advantage of the excellent infrastructure and service as well as the long-standing relationship with the hotel which is much appreciated by the participants. The meeting agendas concentrated on reviewing the work done in the past four months since the calendar conference in Portoroz (SLO) in May and discussing the many practical items in anticipation of the new season.

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Photo: NordicFocus

Cross-Country Skiing: Increasing quality through cooperation

The Cross-Country section of the FIS family had a busy schedule in Zurich last week. Besides the meetings of the FIS Sub-Committee for World and Continental Cups, Sub-Committee for Cross-Country Youth and Children's Questions and the FIS Cross-Country Executive Board, an update for the World Cup Technical Delegates (TDs) and a World Cup Organizers' Seminar took place. The Seminar was focused on brainstorming for new ideas to cooperate effectively in the future and on finding some realistic solutions. "We can look back to a very successful weekend. With the inclusion of the TDs in the OC Seminar, the ample sharing of experiences and knowledge, and everyone's active participation in the working groups, we took a great step forward," commented Vegard Ulvang (NOR), Chairman of the FIS Cross-Country Committee.

In the Executive Board, significant attention was paid to the World Cup calendar for the 2008/2009 season. The draft calendar, including an early season sprint kick-off together with the Alpine Opening, the 3rd FIS Tour de Ski and the Olympic test events in Vancouver, will be submitted to the FIS Council for consideration in November.

For more FIS Cross-Country news, please click here.

Contributed by Sandra Spitz

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Photo: NordicFocus

Ski Jumping: Ensuring quality and fairness

The FIS Jumping Committee held its meeting in Zurich on Friday. It was pleased to hear the report of the Jumping Hills Working Group, which is charged with revising the guidelines for hill construction and also oversaw the research project on the athlete's flight trajectory conducted together with the Zurich Technical University. Based on simulations developed following field research in Engelberg (SUI), the study concluded that only small modifications are required. The good news for the organizers is that there will be no need to reconstruct the existing facilities as the amendments to the guidelines will only be applied to new constructions!

The Jumping Committee also worked on refining and strengthening the criteria for FIS World Cup organizers. Since there are considerably more applicants than available World Cup weekends, selection of future organizers will be based on well-structured, objective criteria. These criteria consist of four main categories - organisation, competition facilities, event factors and public relations - each of which are further divided into five sub-categories. Only organizers meeting these criteria will be accepted as World Cup organizers in the future.

Finally, FIS Assistant Race Director Miran Tepes reported on the results of his visits to most World Cup sites over the summer to find local solutions for wind protection. And fortunately in most cases, it will be possible to create temporary solutions for minimizing tailwind at very reasonable cost!

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Photo: NordicFocus

Nordic Combined: More exciting competitions

Only the Executive Board of the Nordic Combined Committee met in Zurich during the Autumn Meetings. Its deliberations focused on evaluating the past summer season, specifically the Summer Grand Prix 2007, and on preparing for the upcoming winter. Following the successful first trial for the so-called intermediate sprints in the Nordic Combined mass start competition in Klingenthal this summer, the Executive Board intends to include such bonus sprints in all three mass start competitions during the coming winter season.

The 2007/2008 calendar for the Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined also features a three-competition weekend at the World Championship test events in Liberec (CZE) in February. Only the best 30 athletes - including the top 10 in the current World Cup standings - based on the combined results of the preceding mass start and individual Gundersen races will be allowed to start in Sunday's sprint competition. "While the bonus sprints in the mass start events will add an additional bit of excitement to the race, the experiment with the qualification race in Liberec will feature an even more compact field," noted Ulrich Wehling, FIS Race Director Nordic Combined. The Executive Board also agreed on the framework calendar for the 2008-2009 season which will be up for detailed discussion in the Nordic Combined Committee's next meeting to be held in Cape Town in the spring.

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Photo: Agence Zoom

Alpine Skiing: Setting the calendar

Once again, a large number of meetings and working group sessions kept the Alpine Skiing representatives busy while in Zurich, including regular meetings for all the main Sub-Committees, Alpine Committee and two meetings of the Alpine Executive Board. One of the important topics included planning of the World Cup calendar 2008/09 based on the guidelines agreed upon in the Calendar Conference in Portoroz (SLO) in May. These guidelines call for limitations to the number of races and a certain balance between the so-called classical sites and any new venues. "Despite the general agreement on the principles that were agreed upon in May, we continue to struggle with differing national interests. However, the value of the FIS World Cup is determined by the whole rather than the sum of its parts," stated FIS Chief Race Director Gnter Hujara. The FIS Council will discuss and decide on the 2008/09 calendar in its meeting in Bariloche (ARG) in early November.

The week also provided an opportunity for the FIS Alpine World Cup organizers to hold their annual joint meeting with the FIS, as well as for the World Cup Coaches' (ladies and men's) working groups to discuss the topics of importance with their FIS counterparts. As has become a tradition, the Alpine sessions began with an all-day Alpine TD Education session on Wednesday in order to provide the national Alpine inspectors with the latest know-how and tools to conduct the regional TD Seminars between October 12th - 18th November, all on time prior to the main start of the season in the Northern hemisphere.

The first meeting of the new FIS-SRS (the ski industry's organization Ski Racing Suppliers) working group, co-chaired by FIS President Gian Franco Kasper and SRS Co-Presidents Michael Schineis of Atomic and Gregor Dietachmayr of Fischer was held last week, too. The group underlined the role of the industry as an integral component of the sport organization and recognized the importance of their investment in the national teams. Primarily the discussions centered on logistical challenges faced by the manufacturers in the service team's day to day work on site, as well as the complications and costs associated with moving vast quantities of equipment around the world for training and racing. Joint promotional campaigns, especially focusing on the youth will be a theme for the next meeting.

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Photo: Agence Zoom

Freestyle: The movement of skiing

The main focus of FIS Freestyle at the Autumn Meetings was to understand and define the wide variety of movements and skills in Freestyle Skiing. FIS Freestyle Coordinator Joe Fitzgerald explained: "We all understand the differences when we see the turns or jumps being performed, but given that the Committee members speak 16 different languages, describing human movement in words becomes quite interesting. But in the end, the freedom of these movements in skiing is what actually brings us all together around the table." The Freestyle Sub-Committee for Rules and Officials is now charged with the task of further defining a standard set of biomechanical terms to describe human motion in Freestyle Skiing.

The Freestyle Committee also spent time on defining start gate standards for freestyle ski cross to ensure that the National Ski Associations and organizers only have to invest in one gate to be used for both Freestyle ski cross and Snowboard cross. Following detailed cooperation with the Chairman of the FIS Snowboard Committee and FIS Snowboard Race Director, the future ICR will specify standards for a `snow cross gate' for shared use.

The rules of certain competition officials were further defined and job descriptions developed for several positions in ski cross. The rules for Freestyle team competitions were also consolidated.

Chairman of the FIS Freestyle Committee Chris Robinson (CAN) commented: "We are making good progress. The vast amount of good ideas, systems and methods developed by the different working groups are now ending up as well thought-out proposals on the Freestyle Committee's agenda.'

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Photo: Oliver Kraus

Snowboard: Fine-tuning rules and venues

At its Zurich meeting, the Snowboard Coordination Group was focused on reviewing rules and on calendar planning. The balance of the 2007/2008 calendar and the draft 2008/2009 calendar were reviewed, and the first draft of the revised ICR examined in detail. A working schedule was established for completing the review process. The Group also reviewed a proposal prepared together with FIS Freestyle to design a common start gate for Snowboard cross and Freestyle ski cross.

These two disciplines will be sharing a venue at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. The Coordination Group received a report on a joint FIS Snowboard/Freestyle visit at the Cypress Mountain Resort where preparations are progressing well and the venue is already close to completion. Along with the first Freestyle Olympic test events, Cypress will host the Canadian Snowboard national championships in the upcoming season whilst the official Snowboard test events are scheduled for mid-February, 2009. Technical advisors Jeff Ihaksi and Steve Petrie, who are in charge of building the Olympic snowboard cross and half-pipe courses, reported that the work on the structures is on schedule.

On Saturday, a full-day Snowboard TD update took place to ensure that all World Cup and other FIS TDs are well prepared for the coming season.

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Geoff Henke turns 80
Geoffrey Henke

FIS extends its best wishes to former FIS Council Member Geoffrey Henke (AUS). Mr Henke, who served on the FIS Council from 1992-2006, is celebrating his 80th birthday today October 3rd, at the Alexandra Club in Melbourne, Australia.

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Tragic death of Klaus Hardt
Klaus Hardt

FIS sends its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Klaus Hardt, the 54-year-old, long-time member of the FIS Sub-Committee for Alpine Courses from Argentina. Mr. Hardt disappeared on Monday, October 1st, while kayaking on the Moreno Lake. His kayak and life jacket have been found but the body remains missing. Current temperatures in the lake are around +6C. A former ski racer and instructor, Mr. Hardt was a great supporter of the Argentinean Ski Association and local ski clubs. He served as manager of Cerro Catedral in Bariloche until 2004, and was an advisor in Chapelco (San Martin de los Andes) while contributing to the development of different ski resorts in Argentina.

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