News from the World of Skiing 

  Great World Cups in North America, Ruka (FIN) ... more

  FIS President selected to Sochi 2014 Coordination Commission ... more

  Ladies' DH, "missing" for 20 seasons, returns to Aspen ... more

  Bad Kleinkirchheim kicks off celebrations ... more

  Snowboard FIS World Cup ready for action-packed December ... more


 Inside FIS 

  St. Moritz replaces Val d'Isere ... more


 Member News 

  Austrian Lady Power: Ski Austria Lady ... more


 In Depth 

  Before the Season with Joe Fitzgerald ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

Great World Cups in North America, Ruka (FIN)
Thomas Morgenstern (AUT)
Photo: NordicFocus
Fans at Ruka
Photo: NordicFocus

The 6th FIS Nordic Opening took place at Ruka, Kuusamo (FIN) last weekend. Some 17'000 spectators saw a total of eight FIS World Cup events in Cross-Country, Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined against the stunning backdrop of true Northern winter land.

In the continuing cold-related absence of last season's dominator Virpi Kuitunen (FIN), Marit Bjoergen (NOR) took a clear lead in the ladies' Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country, though she has found a new challenger in the young teammate Astrid Jacobsen. Jacobsen surprised by taking her first podium place in a distance race (2nd) in addition to finishing second in the sprint. A new name on the sprint podium was Alena Prochazkova of Slovakia, the U-23 sprint world champion, who captured the first-ever ladies' podium place for her country since its independence.

The new leader in the men's overall standings is Lukas Bauer (CZE) who took his 4th World Cup victory on Sunday. Axel Teichmann (GER), the Beitostoelen winner, finished 3rd and is now 2nd overall. In the men's sprint, the podium was shared by Norway and Sweden, led by Johan Kjoelstad (NOR) who recorded only his second World Cup victory.

The e.on Ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping season started with a team competition held in excellent conditions with no wind Friday night. Team Norway won ahead of Team Austria that led for most of the competition but lost the top spot due to a fall by the final jumper Thomas Morgenstern. Team Finland finished third only 1.8 points behind Austria. On Saturday, the 2007 Grand Prix winner Morgenstern resurged and took the season's first individual victory in a spectacular competition. In the first round, he set a new hill record of 146.5 meters which was beaten only seconds later by teammate Gregor Schlierenzauer who landed at 147 meters.

Germany took both individual victories on the opening weekend of the Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined. In the individual Gundersen, the reigning World Champion from Sapporo, Ronny Ackermann triumphed while in the sprint competition Bj”rn Kircheisen just managed to keep Hannu Manninen (FIN) behind. Ackermann now wears the leader's yellow jersey as he leads the standings in front of Johnny Spillane (USA) and Kircheisen.

While the Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country will continue in Davos (SUI) next weekend, the next e.on Ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping and Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined competitions will be held in Trondheim (NOR) on December 8th and 9th.

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Lindsey Vonn (USA)
Photo: Agence Zoom
Swiss power
Photo: Agence Zoom

The ladies' Audi FIS Alpine World Cup continued in Lake Louise (CAN) where the speed season was opened. The first downhill victory went to American Lindsey Vonn (formerly Kildow), who won for the fourth straight year. Britt Janyk of Canada in 3rd celebrated her first World Cup podium. In the first super-G race, Martina Schild (SUI), the surprise 2006 Olympic downhill silver medallist, finally took her first World Cup win. Now recovered from her many injuries, Maria Riesch (GER) in 2nd place returned to super-G podium for the first time since December 2004. Sweden's Jessica Lindell-Vikarby in 3rd also collected her first World Cup podium finish.

After six of the 38 events, the Austrian ladies have a double lead in the overall rankings with Marlies Schild ahead of team mate Nicole Hosp with Denise Karbon of Italy in 3rd.

In the men's Audi FIS World Cup, two Swiss head the pack in the overall standings after eight of the 41 events. The young shooting star Daniel Albrecht claimed the lead ahead of teammate Didier Cuche. Albrecht made his breakthrough as a true all-rounder during the Beaver Creek week of racing by taking victories in the season's first super combined as well as the giant slalom. He also recorded his career-best super-G result with 4th place.

Michael Walchhofer finally delivered the Austrian men's team its first season's victory by winning the downhill race on the Birds of Prey. Ski Austria also gave an impressive performance in the super-G, rescheduled from Saturday to Monday due to heavy snowfall, by taking five of the top six spots led by Hannes Reichelt who led from the start wearing bib # 1. Some of the new names on the World Cup podium were represented by Jean-Baptiste Grange (FRA), 2007 World Champion bronze medallist in slalom, and Ondrej Bank (CZE) who both made their career first World Cup podium appearances in the super combined.

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FIS President selected to Sochi 2014 Coordination Commission

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced membership of the IOC's Coordination Commission for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

The Commission will be assisting and monitoring the work of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee during the coming six-and-a-half years of preparations. FIS President Gian Franco Kasper was selected to the Commission that is chaired by Jean-Claude Killy, another representative of the skiing world. The members also include Beckie Scott, Olympic gold medalist in Cross-Country Skiing and member of the IOC's Athletes' Commission, among other experts.

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Ladies' DH, "missing" for 20 seasons, returns to Aspen
Aspen finish area
Photo: Agence Zoom

On 5th March, 1988, Swiss racer Brigitte Oertli won a ladies' downhill at Aspen, Colorado. That was the last ladies' downhill at Aspen - until the Audi Aspen Winternational downhill scheduled for 7th December 2007. It will be followed by two more days of racing, a super-G on 8th December and a giant slalom on 9th December.

"We've wanted to do this for a while. Now that we have racing dates in December, we're really pleased to bring back the ladies downhill to Aspen," U.S. Alpine Director Jesse Hunt said. "Putting together the schedule is extremely complex. But, when FIS granted us the December dates we sought, we felt we could move up from super-G, which we've held in recent seasons, and get back to the ladies' downhill."

Racing won't be the only attraction in Aspen that week. Former Olympic, World Cup and World champion Picabo Street and former Worlds medalist Jonna Mendes return to lead a "Powder Girls" clinic. The program is designed to help raise funds for the U.S. Ski Team; and 30 ladies will receive instruction to improve their skiing and an up-close look at the Audi Aspen Winternational from two of US ski racing's greatest stars.

Contributed by USSA

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Bad Kleinkirchheim kicks off celebrations
Bad Kleinkirchheim (AUT)
Photo: OC Bad Kleinkirchheim

After the North American Tour, the men's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup will head to Europe and continue in the state of Kaernten in Austria. Bad Kleinkirchheim will organize slalom and giant slalom races on parts of the selective Kaernten - Franz Klammer course on 8th-9th December. This will be the first time that the men's tour returns to Bad Kleinkirchheim since 1992.

The˙Alpine World Cup weekend will also be one of the main events designated to celebrate the centenary of the Ski Association of Kaernten, together with the e.on Ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping event at the Alpen Arena in Villach on 14th December. A book on the association's history entitled "Vom Grossglockner zum Klammer Stich" along with a TV documentary of the 100-year history produced by ORF will also commemorate the anniversary.

Bad Kleinkirchheim is well-known as the site of the maiden victory by the legendary Franz Klammer in a FIS European Cup race in 1971 which later led to many other successes notably his famously spectacular Olympic gold medal in the 1976 downhill in Innsbruck, and has been followed by exploits by other local matadors from the Southernmost Austrian state including Armin Assinger, Fritz Strobl, Rainer Sch”nfelder und Thomas Morgenstern, among others. For more, see here

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Snowboard FIS World Cup ready for action-packed December
Site of next big air in city center of Sofia (BUL)

Eight out of a total of 35 NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup competitions have already been held and the pace shows no sign of slowing down: On December 8th, Limone Piemonte (ITA) celebrates its debut as World Cup host, organizing the season's second parallel giant slalom. A week later, the focus remains on Alpine boarders as Switzerland's Nendaz will stage a parallel slalom for the third consecutive year.

Movement in the parallel World Cup standings is as good as guaranteed since, in the ladies table, the top four are extremely close: The yellow bib holder Heidi Neururer (AUT) currently sits at 1'600 points followed by Dutch Nicolien Sauerbreij (1.200), teammate Marion Kreiner (AUT, 1.180) and Germany's 2006 Olympic silver medalist Amelie Kober (1.130). On the men's side, 34-year-old Mathieu Bozzetto (FRA) leads the ranking whilst in his twelfth World Cup season. The 2007 PGS World Champion Rok Flander from Slovenia is just 160 points and Daniel Biveson of Sweden 250 points behind.

Meanwhile, the freestylers are getting ready for their season round number three: Sofia (BUL) will debut as a World Cup city hosting spectacular big air action on December 22nd, 2007. The Finns currently have the event standings fully in control, with Janne Korpi, Peetu Piiroinen, Risto Mattila and Sami Saarenpaa boasting a four-fold lead..

Contributed by Oliver Kraus

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 Inside FIS 

St. Moritz replaces Val d'Isere
World Cup in St. Moritz
Photo: OC St. Moritz

Regrettably, the ladies' downhill and super-G scheduled in Val d'IsŠre (FRA), on 15th-16th December, 2007 had to be cancelled due to lack of snow and will be rescheduled in St. Moritz (SUI) on the same dates. Despite experiencing some heavy snowfalls in the past days, the winds on the Solaise Mountain were extremely high and consequently the snow did not settle on the entire top section of the course. Val d'IsŠre is now focusing on the preparations for the men's World Cup events in early February on the Bellevard Mountain, host to the 1992 Olympic Winter Games men's Alpine events.

In confirming St. Moritz who mobilized its organization very quickly to be able to host the event, the ladies' FIS World Cup would also like to acknowledge the ™SV that was ready to step in with an organizer, Haus im Ennstal, but stood down in favor of St. Moritz, since the following ladies events are in Austria, at˙St. Anton and Lienz.

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 Member News 

Austrian Lady Power: Ski Austria Lady

The second issue of the 2007 edition of Ski Austria Lady, a special publication of the Austrian Ski Association, will be published Thursday, 6th December. Introduced two years ago, Ski Austria Lady covers topics such as fitness, wellness, health, nutrition and fashion, as well as presenting book tips, event highlights and much more. It also includes interviews and portraits of current and former Austrian top athletes. The upcoming issue features a portrait of FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis, the only female Secretary General in a major international federation.

Ski Austria Lady has a distribution of 50'000 copies and is sent to all the female members of the Austrian Ski Association as part of their membership. For more information, click here.

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 In Depth 

Before the Season with Joe Fitzgerald
Joe Fitzgerald

The Freestyle FIS World Cup season will launch with the ladies' and men's moguls events at Tignes (FRA) on 13th December. FIS Freestyle Coordinator Joe Fitzgerald shared some of his thoughts before the season with the FIS Newsflash.

FIS Newsflash: What is your general feeling about the 2007-2008 season?

Joe Fitzgerald: We are pretty much ready to start the season, just add some snow and keep the temperatures below freezing..Following the very challenging season we had last year, this season is beginning on a much more positive note. A great amount of snow has fallen in Tignes (FRA) over the last several days and we should get off to a very good start to the mogul season there in the middle of next week. The same goes for our aerial opener in Changchun (CHN), where we will commence the season with the back-to-back competitions on December 21st-22nd. It has been cold in North East China for the past weeks.

On the whole, this is a season with no World Championships or Olympic Games so the main focus clearly shifts to the World Cup. I am looking forward to a balanced season and all the teams seem eager to see the competitions finally getting underway. For ski cross, this will be a particularly exciting season since the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver are now approaching rapidly with their coveted prize of six Olympic medals to be awarded for the first time.

FIS Newsflash: What is particular about this season?

Joe Fitzgerald: There are a few highlights coming up. For example, we will have the test events for the FIS Freestyle World Championships 2009 in Inawashiro (JPN). The first-ever ski cross World Cup races will take place in North America (Deer Valley, USA) this season. A great new addition to the calendar will be the aerials city event on the Moscow University grounds in Moscow (RUS). We will also stage the first Olympic test events at Cypress Mountain Resort (CAN), near Vancouver, in February. And we have started two sort of mini tours in ski cross with back-to-back competitions in France and Switzerland. One of main season highlights, however, will be the FIS Grand Finals 2008 in Bormio/Valmalenco (ITA) in mid-March where we will share the venue with Snowboarding, exactly as will be the case at the 2010 Olympics. It should be a great coming together of all the world's top young freestyle skiers and riders and promises to be a lot of fun!

The spectacular development of ski cross over the past five, six years is now starting to pay first dividends. Following the event's acceptance into the Olympic winter program a year ago, we are poised to welcome a new sponsor onboard. The Freestyle Committee's long term strategy to continue to reinvent itself and grow is bearing fruit and there is now a tremendous amount of support and investment of new money by several National Ski Associations to grow this new event, including Germany, USA, Sweden, Norway and Austria, just to mention a few.

FIS Newsflash: Are there any changes we should note?

Joe Fitzgerald: There has been quite some work done on the competition rules and measurement criteria for this season. In aerials, the different jumps must now be very well-defined in terms of the separation of the different twists. In moguls, the updated course criteria clearly set the position of each element on the course. The fact that the air bumps are now positioned higher up (first air bump) and lower down (second air bump) puts increased emphasis on technical skiing skills. The revised degree of difficulty values in mogul and aerials also allow for more creativity. In ski cross, the starting procedure has been clarified, including the starting gate dimensions, and the rules for `contact' greatly strengthened. We are also working on the development of half-pipe, which we think has a big future with the younger skiers in the world.

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