|News from the World of Skiing|
|Gian Franco Kasper receives honorary degree|
On Friday, 14th December, FIS President Gian Franco Kasper received an honorary doctorate degree, "doctor honoris causa,' bestowed on him by the University of Sofia in Sofia, Bulgaria. Mr. Kasper, Member of the International Olympic Committee and Member of the Executive Board of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), was awarded this honor in recognition of his long-term engagement to benefit sports in general. Awarded in a distinguished ceremony attended by dozens of representatives of the university, the city of Sofia and the media, the degree in particular acknowledges Gian Franco Kasper's work to promote the Olympic values and the Olympic movement and his service for the sport of skiing, having served as FIS President since 1998 and as FIS Secretary General from 1975-1998.
|FIS President meets Bulgarian President|
During his visit to Bulgaria, Gian Franco Kasper was also received by Georgi Parvanov, President of Bulgaria, and Sofia City Mayor Boyko Borissov. President Kasper and President Parvanov discussed the possibilities to turn Vitosha Mountain, located just outside of Sofia, into a modern winter sports resort for families.
"The location of Vitosha is ideal to provide children and their families from the Sofia metropolitan area an opportunity to enjoy playing in the snow," stated President Kasper. "I was very pleased to sense the willingness of the Bulgarian leaders to promote skiing in their country." Bulgaria is already scheduled to carry out the big air competition in the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup on 22nd December in the city of Sofia. It is also planned to host the ladies' Audi FIS Alpine World Cup speed races in March 09 following two men's European cup downhill races in March 08.
|News from the World of Skiing|
|Thomas Morgenstern (AUT)|
|Bj”rn Kircheisen (GER)|
Three of the four victories went to Norway as the Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country continued in Rybinsk (RUS) where 35'000 on-site spectators created a wonderful atmosphere. In the ladies' mass start race, Astrid Jacobsen, the sprint champion from Sapporo, prevailed in the finish stretch to claim her maiden World Cup victory. In the men's equally tight race, the veteran Tor Arne Hetland (NOR) once more showed his strength in the finish and took the honors ahead of Ville Nousiainen (FIN), a first-time podium winner.
In the sprint race on Sunday, the surprise winners were Kikkan Randall from the United States and 21-year-old Anders Gloersen (NOR). It was a historical first victory for the US ladies team in Cross-Country Skiing. Gloersen took victory ahead of four of his Norwegian teammates and one Swede. For him, it was the first World Cup victory on his third World Cup start.
With the help of two podium finishes, Astrid Jacobsen now leads the overall World Cup, ahead of teammate Marit Bjoergen (312 points) who skipped the trip to Russia. In the men's standings, Axel Teichmann (GER) continues to lead with 260 points followed by Hetland and Lukas Bauer (CZE).
In the e.on Ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping, Thomas Morgenstern (AUT) won his fourth and fifth competitions in a row on the normal hill in Villach (AUT) last Thursday and Friday. It was the first time ever that one athlete has won the first five competitions of a FIS World Cup season. Janne Ahonen (FIN) returned to podium by taking 2nd and 3rd, respectively, after a gap of almost two years.
Morgenstern now leads the overall e World Cup standings with the maximum 500 of 500 points after five competitions. Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT) is 2nd with 299 points. The last competitions before the Jack Wolfskin Four-Hills-Tournament will be held in Engelberg (SUI) on 22nd-23rd December.
Bj”rn Kircheisen (GER) was the man of the weekend in the Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined event in Ramsau (AUT). He collected victories in both of the competitions, a mass start race and a hurricane sprint, within 21 hours. On Sunday, the sprint ended with a complete German sweep of the podium as Kircheisen prevailed ahead of teammates Ronny Ackermann and Tino Edelmann. For Edelmann, it was the first World Cup podium of his career. Notably, Saturday's mass start race was the first one this winter that bonus sprints were staged during the cross-country competition and the athletes could win points for the jumping competition.
With the two victories from Ramsau, Bj”rn Kircheisen now leads the overall World Cup 63 points in front of Ackermann (371 points). In the Nations' Cup rankings, Germany now leads with 1181 points ahead of Austria (877 points) and Norway (500 points). The Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined will continue in Oberhof, Germany, on 30th December.
|Anja Paerson (SWE)|
Photo: Agence Zoom
|Julia Dujmovits (AUT)|
In St. Moritz (SUI), where the ladies' Audi FIS Alpine World Cup continued with a speed weekend, Anja Paerson (SWE) collected two wins in 24 hours, her first ones this season. In a tight super-G race, the top 19 skiers fit within a second. Canada's Emily Brydon took 2nd just 0.04 seconds behind Paerson, her best career result. In Saturday's downhill, Paerson edged Lindsey Vonn (USA) by 0.08 to post her first win of the season and her first in downhill since March 2006. The organizers in St. Moritz did a wonderful job in organizing the event although the races were moved from Val d'Isere just nine days beforehand.
With her two victories, Paerson took the lead in the overall standings pushing Nicole Hosp (AUT) to 2nd place as Marlies Schild fell from first to third. The ladies will race the last pre-holidays events, including the season's first super combined, in St. Anton (AUT) later this week.
In the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup, the last parallel event before New Year's was held in Nendaz (SUI). With Julia Dujmovits and Mathieu Bozzetto an underdog and a top favorite took the top spots. In the ladies' final, Dujmovits sprang a surprise on the probably longest PSL slope, "Piste de l'Alpage," taking her inaugural World Cup victory. Heidi Neururer, in 2nd, managed to grow her World Cup lead further as Nicolien Sauerbreij (NED) came in 3rd. On the men's side, Mathieu Bozzetto (FRA) retained the upper hand in the duel of the two fastest men as Rok Flander (SLO) crashed just before the finish line. Bozzetto faced the maximum penalty time of 1.29 seconds prior the second and decisive final run. But the French rider had a good start and managed to reduce the gap at each of the 29 gates - until the Slovenian crashed. It was the season's second victory for the Frenchman who reclaimed the World Cup lead.
|Michael Walchhofer (AUT)|
Photo: Agence Zoom
The 40th Saslong Classic, or the men's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup races in Val Gardena/ Gr”den, took place on 14th-15th December. On Friday, in the 7th super-G held on the Saslong, Didier Cuche edged Bode Miller (USA) by 0.02 seconds for his seventh career win and the fifth win for Switzerland this season. Remarkably, all top four racers were over 30 years old!
In the 46th classical downhill race on Saturday, Michael Walchhofer (AUT) collected his first win on the one downhill track that has eluded him. With his ninth World Cup DH win, Walchhofer became just the fifth racer to win on all five of the "classical" downhills (Val Gardena, Val d'Isere, Wengen, Kitzbuehl and Garmisch) and only the third racer to have won both the super-G and the downhill at Val Gardena. Cuche made it two podiums in two days adding second in the downhill to the super G win.
Last weekend's races also marked the 40th FIS World Cup season on the Saslong in Val Gardena, the classical Dolomites site. The anniversary event also introduced a new dimension entitled "Passion and Performance". The goal of the concept is to present the skiing traditions of Val Gardena-Gr”den, the special traits of the local population and the engagement of the organizing committee by means of artistic reflections on both tradition and innovation. This is also embodied in the event's new branding including the logo.
At Val Gardena's technical compatriot event in Alta Badia, Kalle Palander of Finland won the giant slalom on Sunday with a decisive first run and a solid second. It was just his fourth win in GS, and three of those have come at Alta Badia. The Swiss talent Marc Berthod took third despite having been injured for a month and although his start was unclear until the day before. In Monday's slalom, the second held in Alta Badia, Jean-Baptiste Grange brought France its first World Cup win of the season. Grange powered to a three-quarters of a second margin over German Felix Neureuther to collect his first career win.
After 14 of 41 events, Benjamin Raich (AUT) will be wearing the leader's jersey as the men's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup tour pauses briefly for the holidays, to resume in Bormio for the traditional New Year's eve downhill.
|Rousseau and Marbler|
The Freestyle FIS World Cup moguls season started in Tignes (FRA) last Thursday in spectacular sunny conditions and great snow. A snowstorm early in the week had left a meter of snow in the French Alps around Tignes and Val d'IsŠre.
Canadian Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau, the reigning world champion, and Austrian Margaret Marbler won the men's respective ladies events. It was the first time that the updated course criteria clearly setting the position of each element on the course was used in World Cup competitions. The air bumps are now positioned higher up (first air bump) and lower down (second air bump) therefore increasing emphasis on technical skiing skills.
The Freestyle FIS World Cup aerials season opener will take place this coming Friday and Saturday, 21st-22nd December at Lianhua Mountain, China. The moguls schedule will resume in Lake Placid, NY, USA on 18th-20th January.
|A graphical illustration of the new hill|
The new jumping hill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen will be inaugurated this coming Friday, 21st December, in conjunction with the FIS Continental Cup event which will be held as the official test event for the traditional the Four-Hills-Tournament's New Year's competition on January 1st, 2008. Wolfgang Happle (GER), the FIS homologation inspector and chairman of the FIS Sub-Committee for Jumping Hills, today issued the official homologation certificate for the 140 m hill. The young talent, 17-year-olf Felix Schott will perform the first jump on the new facility.
The inauguration will start on Friday at 10 am with a blessing of the new construction and an official ceremony, followed by the FIS Continental Cup event and a large "After-Jump-Party." Several prominent guests are expected including former Bavarian leader Edmund Stoiber. The program also features a historical photo exhibition, snow sculpture competition and a spectacular light, fire and video show with live music.
|Photo: La Sgambeda|
Swede Jerry Ahrlin and Tatiana Jambaeva of Russia collected victories in La Sgambeda in Livigno last weekend, the opening event of the FIS Marathon Cup 2008. Winning in a stadium sprint, Ahrlin doubled up after his La Sgambeda success a year ago while Jambaeva was previously better-known as a roller skiing world champion. She beat the favorite Hilde Pedersen who led for most of the way but was forced to slow down in the final kilometers due to stomach problems. The 18th edition of the 42 km freestyle race was held in very wintrily conditions including bright sunshine and temperatures around - 18C. It attracted more than 1100 participants from 23 countries.
The FIS Marathon Cup 2008 will continue in the Czech Republic wth the Jizersk pades tka on 13th January. Thereafter, the schedule include the Dolomitenlauf (free style, 60 km), the Marcialonga (classical style, 70 km), the Koenig Ludwig Lauf (classical style, 50 km), La Transjurassienne (free style, 76km) and the Tartu Marathon (classical style, 63 km) on back-to-back weekends as of 20th January. The Vasaloppet (classical style, 90km) and the Engadin Ski Marathon (free style, 42 km) will follow in March, with the Birkebeinerrennet (classical style, 54 km) concluding the series on 15th March 2008.
For detailed results, visit here.
Preparations are well on schedule in Vancouver as construction at the three Whistler Olympic competition venues - Whistler Sliding Center, Whistler Olympic Park (formerly known as the Whistler Nordic Venue) and Whistler Creekside - was completed by mid-December.
While Whistler Creekside has been operational since the beginning of the ski season, doors officially opened in the new Whistler Olympic Park last Saturday, December 15, 2007. The inaugural activities saw more than 100 cross-country ski competitors of all ages take to the trails in the Coast Cup #1, the facility's first officially registered competition. Following the Canadian nationals and FIS Continental Cup Ski Jumping events to be held later this winter, the first test events at the World Cup level will be carried out in January and February of 2009.
Located in the Callaghan Valley, 20 km south of Whistler, Whistler Olympic Park features 14 km of competition trails comprised of two 5K loops for cross-country skiing and one 4K loop for biathlon. Surrounding the core facility are an additional 25 km of recreational trails and the two Olympic ski jumps. For more information visit www.whistlerolympicpark.com.
|Photo: Finnish Ski Association|
FIS is planning to launch a world-wide campaign to promote playing in the snow as the number one outdoor activity choice for kids and the youth in winter. The main aim of the "Bring Kids Back to the Snow" campaign is to generate passion for snow activities with the younger generations. The campaign is scheduled to launch as of the 2008/09 winter season.
The campaign will target kids and youngster aged 0-14 and their parents and families along with teachers and national and regional decision-makers, especially in the areas of education, sport and health. The target market for "Bring Kids Back to the Snow" will be countries which have snow on a regular basis or interest in snow sports.
"This project - Bring Kids Back to the Snow- is crucial for encouraging children and families to spend more time in the snow," said FIS President Gian Franco Kasper. "Our partners in the ski industry have already pledged their support for making snow activities more appealing and accessible to families and kids and youngsters. Playing in the snow is one of the best ways to make children and the youth more active in winter time. It is also a great family experience and we must make sure more children and youngsters experience the joy of playing in the snow."
|Prominent Bansko guests|
The 6th FIS Leaders' Seminar as part of the FIS Aid & Promotion programme was held in Bansko (BUL) from 14th-17th December 2007. More than 40 participants representing 15 nations attended the seminar that focused on the impact of climate change and the subsequent requirements for developing ski sports.
In addition to the presentations and networking sessions, the seminar participants had a chance to participate in the Season Opening celebrations in the resort of Bansko which were greeted by heavy snowfall. The celebrity guests at the festivities included such Alpine stars as Marc Girardelli, Janica Kostelic and Kjetil Andre Aamodt. Considered to be the most developed ski and winter resort in Eastern Europe, Bansko has gone through significant expansion including the building of several top class apartments and luxury hotels as well as boasting some 400 restaurants at present.
|Photo: Estonian Ski Association|
|Photo: Estonian Ski Association|
There may only be 1.4 million inhabitants in Estonia yet the country has won six Olympic medals in Cross-Country Skiing in the past two Winter Games, including four golds. Needless to say, Cross-Country Skiing is Estonia's number one sport.
Even so, until recently there were only few well-maintained trails available for free use by anyone. In 2004, the Estonian Ski Association took the initative to launch a project to improve old trails and build new ones for the general population, called the Estonian Health Trails. The idea was that in beautiful places around Estonia it would be possible for anyone to go and exercise - cross-country skiing in the winter, running, nordic walking or biking in the summer - at no cost and in good conditions also at night.
The project soon found the support of a few important sponsors, including Hansapank, Merko Ehitus and Eesti Energia, as well as the Estonian government. Within three years, 13 trails covering the total length of 51 km have been lit. 25 areas have received some support. Now eight centers and four snow parks have a snow-making system, compared with two of each in 2004. One of the new sites is located in Tallin, in the Pirita woods. This is also where the Jaak Mae ski school now meets.
For this season, the project has turned on yet another gear: last winter, large snow piles were produced and then kept covered during the summer to enable skiing early in the autumn. The season started as of 10th November this year. On 24th February, on Estonian independence day, Estonian Health Trails will be inviting everyone to ski on their home trails. The participants will sign in to record their skied kilometers. The goal is to have one in every 100 Estonians skiing and altogether covering the distance around the world. Last year, it was every 155th Estonian and they traversed the globe twice. But watch this space, there is more in store!
|Photo: Gilles Fr‚chette|
The organizers of the FIS Snowboard World Cup in Stoneham (CAN) were awarded a prestigious award last week. At "Le Gala de l'athlŠte 2007" held in Quebec City, the organizing committee for the Stoneham 2007 events received the trophy for the best event of the year. Martial De Rome, President of the Organizing Committee, who received the award from the Quebec Tourism Office and Le Soleil newspaper, commented: "With so many good events held in the area each year I am very proud of this award and thank the entire organization that has made this success possible."