News from the World of Skiing 

  Tough battle for victory on 2nd FIS Tour de Ski ... more

  56th Four-Hills-Tournament in red and white domination ... more

  Miller and Team Italy shine in last 2007 Alpine races ... more

  Adelboden and Spindleruv Mlyn kick off the 2008 Alpine calendar ... more

  Graz big air opens the Snowboarding year 2008 ... more

  Competition Calendar for Vancouver 2010 Games confirmed ... more


 Inside FIS 

  FIS Aid & Promotion Training Camp program underway ... more


 In Depth 

  The Voice: Interview with Speaker Roberto Vacchi ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

Tough battle for victory on 2nd FIS Tour de Ski
Virpi Kuitunen in gold
Photo: NordicFocus
Lukas Bauer (CZE)
Photo: Agence Zoom

The highlight of the Cross-Country Skiing season 2007/08 is undoubtedly the second edition of the˙Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski performance by Craft Sportswear which kicked off on 28th December 2007. At the a bit more than midway point of the series, after five of the eight Stages, three ladies and two men have worn the overall leader's golden jersey.

On the men's Tour, Czech Lukas Bauer impressed by strong performances on home turf in Nove Mesto na Morave, leading by a minute after the first two Stages. Although he briefly lost the lead to Norway's Simen Oestensen at the Prague city sprint, Bauer had two more strong showings as the Tour returned to Nove Mesto for the fourth and fifth Stages. After the fifth Stage, he has now established a dominant lead of more than two minutes over the second-ranked Norwegian Tord Arle Gjerdalen and Pietro Piller Cottrer of Italy.

On the ladies' side, while the Tour favorites Virpi Kuitunen (FIN) and Marit Bjoergen (NOR) have both already held the top spot, one of the Tour characters has been young Charlotte Kalla of Sweden. Kalla was the Lady of the Day in two of the first four Stages and took the lead on New Year's Day. On 2nd January, last year's Tour winner Kuitunen finished 2nd and collected 20 bonus seconds, reclaiming both the overall leader's golden and the sprint leader's silver jerseys.

Great thanks belong to the Organizing Committee in Nove Mesto that spared no effort to host the Tour for four days. The Tour will now move to Italy for the last three Stages. The queen and king of Cross-Country Skiing will be crowned on Alpe Cermis in Val di Fiemme on Sunday 6th January 2008. The battle for the title is still open and anything can happen! For more information, visit www.tour-de-ski.com.

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56th Four-Hills-Tournament in red and white domination
Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT)
Photo: NordicFocus
Oberstdorf (GER)
Photo: Agence Zoom

At the half-way point of the 56th Four-Hills-Tournament, Team Austria continues to dominate as it has done during the e.on Ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping season so far. Following another imposing victory in the opening competition in Oberstdorf (GER) Thomas Morgenstern now has seven of the nine season victories in his name. In front of 22'000 spectators, Morgenstern delivered a bomb of a jump, landing at 141.5 meters in the final round.

In the second competition, held on the new hill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, his teammate Gregor Schlierenzauer ensured that the top of the podium remained in Austrian control. Leading after the first round, the 33-year-old veteran Janne Ahonen of Finland missed his first World Cup victory in two years, but finished 2nd, his 100th career World Cup podium. Schlierenzauer's second jump was not only the day's longest jump (141 m) but also a new hill record. Germany's Michael Neumayer surprised in front of a home audience in 3rd, his first career podium.

In the Tournament rankings, Schlierenzauer now leads with 555.1 points just 3.2 and 3.4 points, respectively, ahead of Morgenstern and Ahonen. 4th placed Tom Hilde is already 22 points behind them. Ahonen's chances at sixth Tournament win are still intact; he currently shares the record of five Tournament wins with Jens Weissflog (GER).

After nine of the 28 World Cup competitions, Morgenstern now leads the overall rankings with 800 points, 191 points ahead of Schlierenzauer and 385 points ahead of Ahonen.

For more info, visit www.4schanzentournee.com.

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Miller and Team Italy shine in last 2007 Alpine races
Bode Miller (USA)
Photo: Agence Zoom
Denise Karbon (ITA)
Photo: Agence Zoom

In the traditional New Year's downhill on the rugged Stelvio course in Bormio (ITA), Bode Miller (USA) delivered a nearly perfect run to claim his first Audi FIS Alpine World Cup win since breaking away from the USA team to train and race on his own. The win was Miller's 26th in his World Cup career, putting him within a victory of tying Phil Mahre for the most wins by an American on the World Cup. Austria's Andreas Buder recorded his career-best result in 2nd and his second podium after Lake Louise earlier this season. Canada's Jan Hudec finished 3rd. also for his second podium finish this season. Hudec led another strong performance by Team Canada which has collected six podiums already and placed three in the top 10 in Bormio.

Austria's Benjamin Raich (28th in Bormio) maintained the lead in the overall standings over Didier Cuche (4th) while Bode Miller climbed to 3rd. Michael Walchhofer (AUT), who finished 19th after a near crash, kept the lead in the downhill standings..

The ladies' tour continued in Lienz, Austria, in great sunny conditions with minimal wind. Italian Denise Karbon collected her third World Cup Giant Slalom of the season on Friday, 28th December, in as many starts. The often injured Karbon easily claimed best times in both runs for a margin of more than a full second over runner-up Julia Mancuso who is still hunting her first FIS World Cup GS win despite being the reigning Olympic champion in the event. Karbon's teammate Nicole Gius completed the podium and the strong Italian ladies team finish. On Saturday, another Italian, Chiara Costazza, held her nerve to claim the World Cup slalom and her maiden World Cup victory. The win for Costazza gave Italy its fifth win of the season and the first Italian win in 10 years in a ladies' World Cup slalom. Italy now has eleven ladies' podium finishes this season, all of them in slalom or GS. With her third slalom podium of the season, Nicole Hosp of Austria took over the lead in the overall World Cup from Lindsey Vonn (USA) with Maria Riesch (GER) in third.

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Oberhof podium
Photo: NordicFocus

Moan finally on podium

In the last 2007 competition in the Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined in Oberhof (GER) on 30th December, 2007, Magnus Moan (NOR) gained his first season victory after prevailing over Bill Demong (USA) in a photo finish. With this victory, Moan climbed to 7th in the overall rankings that continue to be led by the German duo of Bj”rn Kircheisen and Ronny Ackermann. The Nordic Combined season will continue with the traditional Schwarzwaldpokal in Schonach (GER). Even in the absence of the German Grand Prix this year, the winner of Sunday's individual Gundersen competition will see their name engraved in the famous trophy that will be contested for for the 41st time.

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Adelboden and Spindleruv Mlyn kick off the 2008 Alpine calendar
Adelboden atmosphere 2007
Photo: Agence Zoom
Spindleruv Mlyn

After the Italian tour, the men's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup will next visit the so-called classical World Cup venues. As the first one, the men will have a weekend with two technical events in the Bernese Alps, in Adelboden (SUI). The piste on Chuenisb„rgli is well-prepared and poised to welcome the world's best ski racers for the Fred Rubi Memorial races.

Adelboden has carried out FIS World Cup races since 1955, and has been a regular World Cup venue site since the series' beginning. The giant slalom course is known as one of the most challenging, steepest and most spectacular ones on the entire tour. Since 2004, all the Chuenisb„rgli winners are honored in the center of the village on the `Place of Fame' with their footprints. Some of the champions include such stars as Hermann Maier (AUT, winner in 1998, 1999 and 2001) and Michael von Grnigen (SUI, winner in 1993 und 1996).

The New Year's first competitions in the ladies' Audi FIS Alpine World Cup will take place in Spindleruv Mlyn (CZE) this weekend, on 5th-6th January 2008. It will be the second time that the Czech site will welcome the ladies' tour to a combination of slalom and giant slalom races there. Spindleruv Mlyn debuted on the World Cup calendar in December 2005 with the same race program. And this time it will be the first time that Sarka Zahrobska, the 2007 World Champion in slalom from the Are FIS World Championships, could compete in front of a home audience after her medal win.

Spindleruv Mlyn may have only 1300 inhabitants but it is one of the most popular ski resorts in the entire Czech Republic. It is located in the Giant Mountain National Park near the Polish border, and has its highest peaks at an altitude of 1300 meters. This year, as opposed to last season, the snow conditions in the Czech highlands are good.

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Graz big air opens the Snowboarding year 2008
Stefan Gimpl in Graz 2007

The Snowboarding freestylers in the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup will start the New Year as they ended the old one: with top level big air action. The season's fourth city big air - after Rotterdam (NED), Stockholm (SWE) and Sofia (BUL) - will be held at the open-air area on the fair grounds in the Styrian capital of Graz (AUT)˙on Saturday, 5th January. Thousands of fans are expected to come and witness their local hero Stefan Gimpl to challenge the world elite. He successfully duelled Janne Korpi of Finland, the current World Cup leader, in Sofia, but can expect an equally tough challenge from last year's Graz champion Peetu Piiroinen, among others. The finals will start at 17:00 CET, and will be broadcast live on ORF. For more information, visit www.bigairgraz.at

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Competition Calendar for Vancouver 2010 Games confirmed
The new jumps in Whistler Olympic Park
Photo: VANOC

Qualification for the men's normal hill Ski Jumping competition at Whistler Olympic Park on 12th February, 2010, will open the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010, while the men's 50km mass start event will be the last FIS event 17 days later, on 28th February. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved the competition schedule for 2010 just before the Holidays.

The official opening ceremonies will take place on 12th February at B.C. Place Stadium. The closing ceremonies will also be staged there on the last day, 28th February. The first medals in the FIS disciplines will be awarded on Day 2 in the men's downhill and men's normal hill. The busiest podium day is Day 15, when medals will be awarded in a total of eight events including the ladies' slalom and ladies' parallel giant slalom in Snowboarding. To download the complete schedule, click here.

At Whistler Creekside, the Alpine Skiing schedule follows the traditional Olympic calendar of speed events such as downhill, super-G and super combined in the first week to allow for weather contingencies. The second week will include the technical events, slalom and giant slalom. At Whistler Olympic Park, the Nordic events (Cross-Country Skiing, Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined) run all 17 days and as a consequence proved to be the most challenging in terms of scheduling. At Cypress Mountain, Freestyle and Snowboard competitions will be staged on 16 of the 17 days and include the new ski cross event.

In addition to approving the 2010 Olympic Winter Games Competition Schedule, the IOC signed off on the 2008-09 Sport Events calendar designed to test operational readiness for the facilities, personnel and operations. The first official sport event, where VANOC will be performing operational testing, will be the 2008 Audi FIS Alpine World Cup, taking place in February in Whistler. In the recently opened Whistler Olympic Park, the brand-new jumping hills are welcoming the first Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping competitions on 1st-5th January, 2008. The Nordic Combined North American Junior Championships on 2nd-3rd and the Canadian National Ski Jumping Championships on 4th-5th January are the first competitions at the world-class facility.

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 Inside FIS 

FIS Aid & Promotion Training Camp program underway

Several training camps will be taking place under the umbrella of the FIS Aid & Promotion program in the following weeks. The second period of the Alpine Training Camp, which started in late September, finished in early December. The third period, lasting for some two weeks, is scheduled to begin in early January.

The 2008 FIS Aid & Promotion Cross-Country training camp will take place from 19th January - 2nd February 2008 in Liberec (CZE), the host of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2009. Some 30 athletes from 15 countries and 12 coaches will participate in the two-week camp that will provide a great opportunity for the participants to test the new facilities at the Vesec Cross-Country venue. The camp will end just a day before the beginning of the FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships 2008.

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 In Depth 

The Voice: Interview with Speaker Roberto Vacchi
Roberto Vacchi
The Tour de Ski speakers
Photo: NordicFocus

Great events leave lasting memories, especially with those who attended them on-site. One of the main determinants of event atmosphere is the so-called venue production. On the FIS Tour de Ski 2007/08, the main face of the venue production team is the Tour's international speaker, Roberto Vacchi.

A well known cycling commentator on Eurosport Sweden and veteran of 14 Tour de Frances, Vacchi is an expert in competitions held in stages, like the Tour de Ski. Vacchi has also been speaker at several FIS World Cup races in Sweden and was part of the venue production team in Val di Fiemme (ITA) during the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2003. Most recently, he earned a lot of praise for his role as the head speaker at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2007 in Are (SWE). The FIS Newsflash had a chance to query Roberto about his approach to creating a great atmosphere.

FIS Newsflash (FN): What is your main task as event speaker?

Roberto Vacchi (RV): My most important task is to make it easy for the audience to follow the race, to experience its drama and enjoy their entire experience. I try to make the people on site feel welcome and most importantly, to `activate' them, make them feel part of the race. Key components of my job include augmenting the excitement of the competition and guiding the spectators through all the possible race developments.

FIS Newsflash: What makes a good speaker?

RV: I think the flow of the presentation is very important. A good speaker is able to use the intonation of their voice well, and has a wide spectrum of different tones. Of course, understanding of the sport is instrumental; often, preparation begins months before an event. Finally, the speaker must have almost like a split vision, to be able to maintain good communication with the venue producer while keeping track of all the timing and data information.

FN: You have experience with several FIS sports. How do they differ in the view of a speaker?

RV: The flow of the competition is very different. In Alpine Skiing, for example, we have full action in a constant stop-and-go mode. In Cross-Country Skiing, it is more like a continuous line with an increasing gradient towards the end. For both, a good event production consists of a variety of parts, from music to interviews and other entertainment. It is also important to give the audience a break every now and then!

FN: How about the Tour de France and the Tour de Ski - are they any different?

RV: In many respects, they are very similar. Both are very demanding events. Since I know both of the sports so well, I can relate to the feeling of extreme tiredness that the athletes experience. But the Stages on the Tour de France are much longer. On average they last some four hours, and the long mountain Stages can be almost double that. Of course there are also differences in the rules. Overall, however, I find that my experience on the Tour de France really helps me on the Tour de Ski.

FN: You speak from an outside standing position in the middle of the stadium rather than a position up on the tribune. Why is that?

RV: Being in the middle of the stadium allows the speaker to have a much better contact and interaction with the audience. We first tried this at the World Cup finals in Are in 2006 and then continued during the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in February 2007. Now on the Tour, it is the first time we do this at a Cross-Country Skiing event and it is working out great!

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