News from the World of Skiing 

  Speed season kicks off in Canada as Norway Cross-Country celebrates at home ... more

  Nordic seasons launch at Ruka (FIN) ... more

  A week of action at Beaver Creek, ladies speed to start in Lake Louise ... more

  FIS Continental Cup circuits underway ... more

  IF Sports Forum premieres in Lausanne ... more


 Inside FIS 

  Polar named "Official FIS Timing Partner for Cross-Country and Nordic Combined World Cups" ... more

  FIS Doping Panel sanctions three Austrian Cross-Country skiers ... more


 In Depth 

  Before the Season with Walter Hofer and Uli Wehling ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

Speed season kicks off in Canada as Norway Cross-Country celebrates at home
Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR)
Photo: Agence Zoom
Denise Karbon (ITA)
Photo: Agence Zoom

The speed season in the men's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup kicked off traditionally at Lake Louise, Alberta (CAN). In the first downhill race on Saturday, Jan Hudec, the 2007 Worlds downhill silver medalist, notched his first World Cup win on home snow. He became the second Canadian to win a downhill in Canada since 1989. American Marco Sullivan finished second in the best showing of his career. After two trainings in perfect conditions, the competition was carried out in challenging light conditions with "swirly winds."

On Sunday, the defending World Cup overall champion Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) won the season-opening super-G, beating Benjamin Raich (AUT) clearly. Team Canada pulled off another good showing on home turf by placing three men in the top 8. The victory gave Svindal the overall lead with 234 points, 68 more than Raich and 94 ahead of Kalle Palander (FIN) who does not compete in the speed events.

The ladies' Audi FIS Alpine World Cup continued in Panorama, British Columbia (CAN) with two technical events. Italy's Denise Karbon made it 2-for-2 in the giant slalom races this season, taking the win after first-run leader Nicole Hosp (AUT) made a major mistake early in her second run. Elisabeth `Lizz' Goergl saved the Austrian day on the podium by finishing 2nd. The Italian ladies' team now under the coaching guidance of Much Maier delivered yet another stellar performance by taking 1st, 3rd and 6th as the Austrians ended up 2nd, 4th and 5th.

On Sunday, Marlies Schild (AUT) took her second win in the season's second slalom race and reclaimed the lead in the ladies' overall FIS World Cup standings. With her 15 slalom victories - including wins in six of her last seven World Cup slaloms - Schild moved to fifth place on the all-time list of slalom winners behind Vreni Schneider (SUI, 34), Erika Hess (AUT, 21) Janica Kostelic (CRO, 20) and Anja Paerson (SWE, 18). Behind her, Sarka Zahrobska (CZE), the reigning slalom world champion, triumphed in the close duel against Croatia's 20-year-old Ana Jelusic who captured her second career podium just one hundredth of a second behind. Overall, there were ten nations represented in the top 12 in the final results on the tough slalom course at Panorama Mountain Resort.

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Norway II
Photo: NordicFocus
Beitostoelen (NOR)
Photo: NordicFocus

In Beitostoelen (NOR), Team Norway claimed five of the total of 12 podium places as the Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country continued there last weekend. Double victory by Marit Bjoergen and Vibeke Skofterud in the ladies' individual start 10km race in the free technique was followed by another double victory in the men's relay (Norway II ahead of Norway I) and the top spot in the ladies' relay thanks to the strong final lap by Bjoergen. In the men's 15km individual race, the reigning World Champion from Sapporo 2007, Axel Teichmann (GER) prevailed over Czech Lukas Bauer largely due to his strong finish.

For the Norwegian men's team it was the first double victory in a relay since 1996. In the Nations Cup standings after eight FIS World Cup events, Norway is in a clear lead with 1337 points, ahead of Sweden (930 points) and Germany (860).

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Nordic seasons launch at Ruka (FIN)
Ruka Jumping Stadium
Photo: OC Ruka

The FIS Nordic Opening, the joint World Cup opening weekend for the three FIS Nordic disciplines, will take place for the sixth time in Kuusamo/Ruka (FIN) on 30th November-2nd December. The true season opener for the FIS Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined World Cup tours, this long weekend will feature more than 320 athletes from 27 nations and some 300 team officials. A total of eight events will be carried out at Ruka, a popular winter sport resort named after the local mountain (492m) located 25 km north of Kuusamo. The program will start with official training sessions and qualification for the season's first Ski Jumping event on Thursday, 29th November whilst Nordic Combined will begin the competitions on Friday morning at 10:30 local time.

Winter arrived early at Ruka this year. Snow-making at the Nordic competition venue started in early November and the jumping hill was opened for training on 17th November. For the coming weekend, the weather forecast calls for solid winter conditions with temperatures around -6 - -8C.

Traditionally, the Organizing Committee of Ruka has invested a lot of effort to entertain the spectators. This time is no exception and there are several live music performances and DJ's on the schedule to ensure great atmosphere throughout the weekend. For more information, visit: www.nordicopening.com

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A week of action at Beaver Creek, ladies speed to start in Lake Louise
Beaver Creek 2006
Photo: Agence Zoom
Lake Louise (CAN)
Photo: Agence Zoom

The men's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup continues at Beaver Creek, Colorado (USA) this week. Beaver Creek is the only venue on the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup schedule, apart from the World Cup finals site, to host four days of racing each winter. This year, the schedule includes a super combined, a downhill, a super-G and a giant slalom starting on Thursday, 29th November.

FIS Official Timing Partner Longines is also adding its own flavor to the Beaver Creek week of racing. The Longines Ambassadors of Elegance Andre Agassi, former tennis champion,˙is scheduled to take to the slopes for a good cause, i.e. to benefit The Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation. Following a run, Agassi, a passionate snowboarder, will donate his board to be raffled off during the racing weekend with the proceeds going to the Foundation that helps deprived children (Note: Aksel Lund Svindal, the other Longines Ambassador who was scheduled to ski and donate his skis˙crashed in Tuesday's downhill training, seriously injuring himself).

Also in Beaver Creek, the Swiss and Austrian ski teams Tuesday launched the count-down to UEFA Euro 2008, 192 days away as of today. The teams, supported by their sponsors and retired professional footballers from both countries played a promotional football game. Team Switzerland, including Didier Cuche, Didier Defago, Daniel Albrecht and˙ex-professional Georges Bregy played against Team Austria with˙Mario Scheiber, Hans Knauss˙and former footballer Peter Artner, among others. The Swiss team took an important victory with the goal to 2-1 by Bernhard Russi in the penalty round...

The ladies' Audi FIS Alpine World Cup has moved from Panorama to near-by Lake Louise for the first speed events of the season, a downhill on Saturday followed by a super-G on Sunday.

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FIS Continental Cup circuits underway
Unsual public draw at Rovaniemi
Photo: Veli-Jukka Mustaj„rvi

The FIS Alpine Skiing Continental Cup series are important stepping stones for young ski racers. The 2008 FIS NorAm Cup racing got underway in Colorado with two slaloms at Keystone Resort (USA) this Monday and Tuesday, and will continue with a pair of giant slaloms there from 28th-29th November. The ladies will face a two slalom-two GS line-up from 28th November -1st December at Winter Park Resort, also Colorado. All in all, the FIS Nor-Am Cup will visit 10 sites until the finals set for Whiteface, New York (USA) in mid-March.

The FIS European Cup ladies' Tour also held its first outdoor races last weekend at Levi (FIN). Two giant slalom races were staged in great snow conditions even if windy weather. The racing continued with two slalom races at Ounasvaara, Rovaniemi (FIN). Following five events, Germany's Monika Springl leads with 440 points. The men's European Cup will also get underway on outdoor snow in Are (SWE) this coming weekend.

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IF Sports Forum premieres in Lausanne

The first-ever IF Sports Forum, targeted to the specific needs of Olympic and non-Olympic International Federations (IFs), took place in the Olympic Capital of Lausanne (SUI) this week. Organized by ASOIF (Association of International Olympic Summer Sports Federations) and its winter equivalent AIOWF in cooperation with SportAccord, the 2007 IF Sports Forum was concentrated into two streams of study: Sport Development and Marketing & Media. These topic areas, often the two sides of the same coin in the sporting world, were approached through a series of keynote addresses, presentations, workshops and case studies. Dr. Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC, delivered the welcome speech to open the Forum on Monday. The participants included representatives of most of the Olympic and several other International Federations, most of whom sent their communications and development experts.

The IF Forum, an annual by-invitation-only event, is designed to help promote new ideas, exchange of experiences, and networking opportunities for the professional staff across the IFs. Sarah Lewis, FIS Secretary General and representative of the AIOWF on the event's steering committee, commented: "The feedback from the International Federations to the first IF Sports Forum was very positive, both through the knowledge they gained from the high level presentations and interactive workshop sessions, as well as the exchanges between the various specialists from the federations in the communications and development field".

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 Inside FIS 

Polar named "Official FIS Timing Partner for Cross-Country and Nordic Combined World Cups"

FIS and Polar Electro Oy, the pioneer and leader of heart rate training systems, announced a new cooperation whereby Polar will become an official "FIS Partner" and the "FIS Official Timing Partner for Cross-Country and Nordic Combined World Cups." The agreement is effective immediately and will cover all events within these FIS disciplines during the 2007/2008 season.

Under the agreement, Polar will bring its long-term experience in heart rate monitoring and exercise physiology to FIS Cross-Country Skiing and Nordic Combined World Cups in order to develop the understanding and interest in these disciplines. Specifically, the two partners will work together to collect and distribute athlete specific performance data to the TV audiences in a simple and easy to understand format.

"We are pleased to cooperate with Polar that has established itself as one of the leading providers of advanced training tools for the Cross-Country and Nordic Combined athletes world-wide," said FIS President Gian Franco Kasper. "FIS is always striving to find ways to better present our sports and enhance the value to our TV viewers. The inclusion of interesting details provided in a user-friendly manner helps the audiences better understand the sport overall and especially the developments in a particular race."

For more on Polar, visit www.polar.fi

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FIS Doping Panel sanctions three Austrian Cross-Country skiers

The FIS Doping Panel last week issued its decisions in the cases of Austrian Cross-Country skiers Roland Diethard, Johannes Eder, and Martin Tauber, who were found to have committed anti-doping rule violations upon the occasion of the XX Olympic Winter Games in Torino 2006. The allegations raised against the athlete Juergen Pinter are dismissed since they were not found to meet the standard of proof required to sanction the athlete according to the FIS Anti-Doping Rules. For more information, please see the FIS Media Info by clicking here.

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 In Depth 

Before the Season with Walter Hofer and Uli Wehling
Walter Hofer
Uli Wehling

The FIS Newsflash caught up with Walter Hofer and Uli Wehling, FIS Race Directors for Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined, respectively, just days before the start of the World Cup competitions. They shared some thoughts about the upcoming season and their expectations.

FIS Newsflash: What is your general feeling looking forward to the 2007-2008 season?

Walter Hofer: Unlike for the other FIS disciplines, for Ski Jumping this is not a year without title events. The 20th FIS Ski Flying World Championships in Oberstdorf (GER) at the end of February will surely be one of this winter's sports highlights. It will be the 5th time that Oberstdorf will be hosting this great event and it will be the very first time ever that the FIS Ski Flying championship medals will be awarded at night, under floodlights.

I am very confident about the upcoming season. Everything is on schedule in terms of the organizers, event preparations and the sports side, even snow! I expect an exciting season: we already saw the emergence of a number of so-called `new' nations during the FIS Grand Prix 2007. Besides the traditional Ski Jumping nations, we are likely to see even more top performances - and new winners - from Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Russia, Poland and Kazakhstan.

On another note, we have done quite some work to control the impact of the wind on our competitions. Miran Tepes, FIS Assistant Race Director, visited most of the World Cup organizers this summer and made recommendations for wind protection nets at a very reasonable cost. The organizers and National Ski Associations are currently evaluating these ideas. There are various options for the material and most reduce the wind by approximately half. This means, if the wind before the net was 5 m/s, after the net it is only 2.5 m/s. The nets also have a stabilizing impact on the wind.

Uli Wehling: This will be an important season for Nordic Combined. Not because of important title events but just for us to be able to return to regular competition activity and routine. Of course, we cannot impact Mother Nature but we hope that this season the weather will not wring as much havoc as last time around. Here in Kuusamo, where I have been since Monday, it is currently looking very good. This also applies to Trondheim (NOR) and Ramsau (AUT), our next two competition sites, both of which are almost prepared to host us already.

We have taken quite some time this summer to analyze the past season and will be increasingly focused on optimizing the delivery of our events. This is especially important when it comes to cooperation with all the stakeholders and sport presentation. Moreover, together with our Ski Jumping colleagues, we have worked on wind protection measures and hope to benefit from those wherever feasible. Overall we hope to offer fair conditions to all competitions and are confident we can deliver on this goal.
To ensure enhanced continuity on the equipment control side, too, we are pleased to have welcome Guntram Kraus as our equipment controller. He will join the team throughout the season and will surely bring an element of stability to our operations.

On the sports side, I am looking forward to a season that is likely to see a relatively large group of contenders for both the podium and the yellow jersey. Although Hannu Manninen (FIN) has taken the overall World Cup a record of four times a row, there are younger challengers and some more experienced athletes who intend to put up a fight for the top spots.

FIS Newsflash: What is particular about this season?

Walter Hofer: We have one new site on the World Cup calendar: Kranj (SLO), the venue for the FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships in 2006, will host a day event on 16th December. And Villach (AUT) will return to the FIS World Cup after a six-year break with a night competition just two days before Kranj. Both of these events will be normal hill competitions which is something we have not had for a while at the World Cup level. At most sites, where they have both a large and normal hill, it does not make sense to prepare both hills for a weekend event. This is a logistical challenge above all, but also a time and money question since two hills require double the equipment for TV production, data and timing, snow and much work from the organizers.

What is also particular about this season is that we will have three Ski Flying events. We will start with Harrachov (CZE) in January, then have the Championships in Oberstdorf and end the season traditionally on the world's largest hill in Planica (SLO). In the medium-term, we would like to keep all the existing five Ski Flying hills on the World Cup level with each venue hosting a weekend every two years. Ski Flying is spectacular and we want to offer this special experience to our fans on a regular basis.

Uli Wehling: We have again taken some steps to further develop our sport. Overall the calendar comprises 24 individual competitions including three mass start events and 11 Sprints. In the mass start events starting in Ramsau, we will introduce intermediate bonus points to make the Cross-Country Skiing races even more exciting. As in cycling, competitors may win up to 12m of "bonification", in this case bonus meters, for the jumping competition (on the large hill).

In terms of the sprints, two will be staged as Hurricane Sprints (i.e. with the hurricane start method), one as a Compact Sprint - meaning that the Cross-Country part will start no more than 25 minutes after the completion of the jumping - and one as a Hurricane Compact Sprint. As a novelty, at the test events for the 2009 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Liberec, we will try out the Qualification Sprint in which only the 30 best competitors after two events - including the top 10 in the current World Cup standings who are pre-qualified - may participate.

FIS Newsflash: What about the ladies and other future developments?

Walter Hofer: In 2009, at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Liberec (CZE), we will award the first FIS World Championship gold medals to female ski jumpers. The ladies' FIS Continental Cup is in its fourth season and after the early fluctuations, now finds itself in a consolidation phase. There is a quite homogenous group of jumpers aged 12-20 that I expect to be very strong in the future. In the summer competitions there were 14 nations participating so we still need some grass-roots development work, but the future is looking bright.

We are also constantly assessing ideas for further developing the sport. The suggestion from the trainers' working group about a three-round competition will be considered in our spring meetings. Given our schedule, it was not possible to include a test this summer which for us is an important step in the process for introducing any changes.

Uli Wehling: In our last meeting, the FIS Nordic Combined Executive Board acknowledged the great success of the first independent, international Nordic Combined event for girls held this summer. We hope to see more activity at the national level this winter; ideally there will be more racing opportunities for young girls either together with the boys or in their own category. At this point, the sport needs to grow from the bottom up rather than top down but should help be needed from the FIS level we are happy to assist.

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