|News from the World of Skiing|
|News from the World of Skiing|
|Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR)|
Photo: Agence Zoom
The Audi FIS Alpine World Cup launched in beautiful, sunny conditions in Soelden (AUT) last weekend. It was the 10th anniversary of the season-opening giant slalom races on the Rettenbach glacier, attended by 26'000 spectators this year. In the ladies' race on Saturday, Italy's Denise Karbon clinched only the second World Cup victory of her career. The 27-year-old has overcome a number of serious injuries since her first win in 2003. In a surprising and exciting race, Julia Mancuso (USA) made a leap from 12th to a second place finish while Kathrin Zettel - the only Austrian on the podium this weekend - took third with the fastest second run, moving up from 24th. 18-year-old Tessa Worley of France surprised with her fifth place in her only fourth World Cup start and the second time she qualified for the second run.
In the men's race on Sunday, the defending FIS World Cup overall champion - and reigning giant slalom world champion - Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway opened the season in blazing fashion by winning ahead of Ted Ligety (USA). The Norwegian was sixth at the race's halfway stage but powered his way to the top of the podium after setting the fastest time in the second run. Svindal has now won four of his last five FIS World Cup races. Ligety led after the first run but couldn't match Svindal on the bottom flats. Finland's Kalle Palander, second after the first run, finished third on the wind-swept course yet good snow conditions.
The next Audi FIS Alpine World Cup races are men's and ladies' slaloms on 10th-11th November in Levi, Finland, before the tour makes its annual North American swing later in the month.
A total of 350'000 spectators on the River Rhine in Dsseldorf (GER) saw two maiden victories in Saturday's individual races and a double victory for Sweden in the season's first team sprint competitions on Sunday. Two youngsters, 21-year-old Natalia Matveeva (RUS) and 22-year-old Josef Wenzl (GER), took the top spots in the season opening city sprints, held in the capital of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia for the sixth time. For Matveeva, it was the first World Cup victory in her career and the 4th podium place while Wenzl's best result so far had been a 6th place in Dsseldorf a year ago. In the team event, Sweden's young talents Charlotte Kalla and Britta Norgren claimed victory in the ladies' race while teammates Thobias Fredriksson and Peter Larsson prevailed in the tight men's race thanks to a strong finish sprint by the four-time Dsseldorf winner Larsson.
The Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country will continue in Beitostoelen (NOR) on 24th-25th November.
|FIS Snowboard World Cup in Saas Fee|
Photo: Saas Fee
After the opening in the Southern hemisphere in Cardrona (NZE) in August, the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup in half-pipe will continue this week in Saas Fee (SUI). This will be the fourth time that the FIS tour visits the Swiss glacier village and the Freestyle Park Allalin at 3300 m above sea level. The qualification competitions are set for Thursday, 1st November, with the semi-finals and finals on Friday, 2nd November. Nearly 100 riders from 19 nations are scheduled to show their best tricks to impress the judges including, on the ladies' side, the New Zealand winner and reigning World Champion Manuela Laura Pesko of Switzerland and the strong men's teams from Switzerland, USA and Finland, among others.
The Audi FIS Alpine World Cup is scheduled to continue in Levi in Finnish Lapland on 10th-11th November. At this point, the Levi Black is literally still black. However, the latest weather forecasts appear positive with temperatures expected to fall significantly below freezing as of Wednesday (for the latest forecast, click here). The automated snow-making systems will turn on as soon as it is cold enough. FIS Race Director Hans Pieren will travel to Levi at the weekend to conduct the snow control. The decision about Levi's races will be made on Sunday, 4th November.
|Skieur d'Or 2007|
Photo: Peter Kornatz
Aksel Lund Svindal, the overall 2007 FIS World Cup winner and two-time World Champion at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in re (SWE), was presented with the so-called Serge Lang Trophy, the prize for the Alpine Skieur d'Or 2007 in Slden last Thursday. 24-year-old Svindal was the number one choice for the best skier of last season by 80% of the voting members of the Association of Alpine Ski Journalists (AIJS), the body awarding this distinction.
As the 45th Skieur d'Or or Skier of the Year,’ Aksel Lund Svindal joins the list of some of the most prestigious champions of alpine ski racing. Some of the recent winners include Hermann Maier (2004), Bode Miller (2005) and Benjamin Raich (2006).
The newly-established working group for FIS and SRS, the ski industry's organization, met on the eve of the FIS World Cup Opening in Slden primarily to discuss ways in which both organizations could promote skiing and participation.
FIS President Gian Franco Kasper presented to SRS the important campaign that FIS intends to undertake with children and youngsters to promote skiing and participation "Bring Children back to the Snow." SRS led by the co-presidents Michael Schineiss (Atomic) and Gregor Dietachmayr (Fischer), pledged their support through their channels to help distribute and communicate such a campaign, as well as contribute to its development.
The other main topic that was addressed regarding promotional aspects concerns integrating a clip into the television broadcast about which discussions are underway with Infront that hold the television rights to the majority of the FIS World Cups as part of a brand-strengthening campaign.
Success stories, partnerships and future action for a sustainable environment were at the center of the 7th World Conference on Sport and the Environment, which was held in Beijing (CHN) from 25th to 27th October. Themed "From Plan to Action", 400 participants from all over the world - representing sport organizations, sponsors, event organizers, industry, politics and research institutions - came together to share knowledge and find solutions for environmental challenges. One of the speakers was Erwin Lauterwasser, FIS Environmental Expert, who presented a case study on FIS best practice.
"There are many opportunities for different forms of collaboration at all levels. We all have to play our part in the global effort for a sustainable environment and the global fight against climate change - that means everybody, everyday," concluded P l Schmitt, a Hungarian member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Chairman of the IOC Sport and Environment Commission. Several speakers underlined the role of the sports movement as catalyst for increasing environmental awareness in the general population. The next World Conference on Sport and the Environment will be held in Vancouver in 2009 to review what has "grown green" since the Beijing conference.
At the invitation of the Argentinean Ski Association, the FIS Council will this time gather for its traditional Autumn Meeting in Bariloche (ARG) on 5th-6th November. Among its deliberations will be such topics as various proposals and requests from National Ski Associations and FIS Committees relating to rules, regulations and applications to host events, as well approval of the World Cup calendars for the 2008/2009 season proposed by the respective Technical Committees and setting the amounts for prize money paid out as from the 2008/2009 season.
The Council will also be looking ahead to the 2008 International Ski Congress in Cape Town (RSA) and reviewing the proposals and agenda. A short summary of the Council's most important decisions will be published in FIS Newsflash next week.
For five years now, Audi has been the title sponsor of the FIS Alpine World Cup. In addition to being the name giver, and thus one of the key partners of FIS globally, Audi also supports a significant number of FIS member associations. As a partner of the German Ski Association (DSV) for over two decades Audi has developed a relationship that includes joint events and exclusive training opportunities at the ultra-modern wind tunnel center in Ingolstadt, Bavaria. Perhaps most visibly, however, the partnership can be seen on the road as the DSV alpine athletes and trainers travel in their Audi vehicles, which this year sport the eye-catching Misan red color.
In addition to DSV, Audi has supported the Alpine national teams from Sweden, Finland, France, Liechtenstein, Italy and Switzerland for a longer period of time. As of this season, the Alpine teams from two National Ski Associations have joined the Audi family: athletes from Austria and the United States can now also rely on the sporty but safe power of Audi models when they are on the road to the next Audi FIS Alpine World Cup event.
|Presenters of FIS Youth and Children's Seminar|
Representatives of the FIS Youth and Children's Sub-Committees and their joint Coordination Group, led by Ken’Read (CAN),’met for the second time in Zurich during the FIS Autumn Meetings. Established by the FIS Council last autumn, the Sub-Committees' inaugural spring meetings had focused on defining their roles, level of authority and main tasks. By now, the sharing of ideas, information and experiences between the National Ski Associations on bringing and developing youth participation has already become one of the major focus points, as well as working with discipline sub-committees to review rules and comment on proposals from National Ski Associations as they relate to youth and children events and development.
There are a multitude of programs and projects underway in the various FIS member nations. It is the goal of the coordination group to gather this substantial documentation and share it through the FIS web site.
Another emerging, important topic area for the Sub-Committees are guidelines and standards, especially in the areas of safety and equipment, for children's and youth competitions. As requested by the FIS President, the Sub-Committees will also play a key role in defining the specifics related to the FIS disciplines at the future Youth Olympic Winter Games to be introduced by the IOC as of 2012.
The Sub-Committee meetings were preceded by 5th FIS Youth and Children's Seminar. More than 50 participants from 34 nations gathered to discuss and debate the critical themes related to developing and retaining the interest of children and youth in snow sports. The overall feedback on the seminar has been very positive and its organization as part of the FIS autumn meetings has received much praise due to the ease of participation and optimization of travel expenses.
Just a reminder to the FIS member associations: The new (and former!) FIS Finance and Human Resources Manager Martin Plss will begin work this Thursday, on November 1st, 2007. As many remember, Martin already worked for FIS from 1999 to 2002 setting up the FIS in-house book-keeping and financial systems. He can be reached in the FIS office through the general telephone number and by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To celebrate the 10th opening of the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup in Soelden last weekend, Austrian Post launched a complete sheet of stamps featuring 19 Austrian ski stars from the 2006/2007 season. The athletes recognized in the stamps include Alpine World Champions Mario Matt and Nicole Hosp, as well as ski jumper stars Gregor Schlierenzauer and Thomas Morgenstern, snowboarders Marion Kreiner, Doresia Krings and Heidi Neururer, mogul skier Margarita Marbler, along with Nordic Combined athletes Felix Gottwald and Christoph Bieler, just to mention a few. The sheet of stamps can be ordered for _25 from email@example.com.
The FIS Newsflash spoke with Marcel Looze, FIS Race Director for Snowboard, to get an update on the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup season already well underway. He shared his thoughts on the events that have taken place so far and what to expect from the rest of the season.
FIS Newsflash: What is your general feeling now that one competition in all the Snowboard FIS World Cup events has taken place?
Marcel Looze: We are very happy with the way the season has started. Of course there are always small things that we can work on but overall it has been excellent so far. First of all, it turned out to be a good choice to start in New Zealand where all the riders were training and could easily participate in the season opening half-pipe event in Cardrona in August. The Chile snowboard cross opening in Valle Nevado in late September was also outstanding. We had sun, blue skies and good snow the entire week. Valle Nevado showed again what a great venue it is for snowboard cross competitions.
Then, back in Europe, the 2nd big air opening in Rotterdam (NED) was terrific. With 25'000 people, we had a great turn-out in good weather and no wind. The Erasmus Bridge served as a fantastic platform for the spectators and the venue worked well for the multiple high-quality side-events. The parallel season opening events in Landgraaf (NED) and Soelden (AUT) went well, too. It was the fifth time we competed in the ski hall in Landgraaf; the home audience especially appreciated the great performances in the parallel slalom by the Dutch rider star Nicolien Sauerbreij who came 3rd. The parallel giant slalom in Soelden was again staged in the Olympic format - with the small final for ranks 5th-8t - which is good as it allows us to test the format on a regular basis.
FIS Newsflash: What is particular about this season?
Marcel Looze: I especially appreciate the excellent atmosphere we have in the World Cup at present. I am fortunate to be able to rely on excellent cooperation with all the teams, especially the coaches and riders, and very professional organizing committees to resolve any challenges that may come up. Their support has really marked the early season making it very smooth and I hope that it continues this way.
I am also pleased that we have witnessed a rise in the number of competitors in the early season. For example, 100 riders have been entered for this weekend's half-pipe World Cup in Saas Fee (SUI) and there were 150 competitors in the European Cup half-pipe there on Monday. This bodes well for the future!
In addition to the season opening in New Zealand, which was a premiere in the World Cup, we will welcome a new Italian venue. The organizing committee in Limone Piemonte is very enthusiastic and I am looking forward to a high-level event there in December. Gujo in Japan will also make its entrance into the World Cup schedule in late February. And we should not forget the pre-2009 FIS Snowboard World Championships events in Sungwoo, Korea, in mid-February which will be an important test for the organizers. Snowboard is a global sport so it is important to rotate the venue for our title events. We are all excited to be in Asia next.
FIS Newsflash: Are there any changes we should note?
Marcel Looze: We have some rules adjustments especially in half-pipe and big air. Whenever we have the possibility to run the qualification on a separate day, we will always host semi-finals. This allows the riders to spend more time in the half-pipe and get more used to it. In these cases, « of the riders in the finals qualify directly on the basis of the better of their two qualification runs while the other « will qualify through the semi-finals. Overall, the impact of this rule change is higher level riding and more spectacular jumps. In big air, the rule change is that the winning jump can only be performed once in the finals, which requires the riders to show more of their tricks and have a broader portfolio.
There was also a small amendment in the qualification rules for SBX races which enables us to run the second run in reverse order. This means the fastest riders from the first qualification run start last for the second qualification run.