News from the World of Skiing 

  Many first time winners on Cross-Country's Canadian tour ... more

  One of the busiest World Cup weekends: From Zakopane to Mt Gabriel ... more

  Val d'IsŠre 2008 - A full dress rehearsal for all involved! ... more

  FIS Marathon Cup continues with spring-like Marcialonga ... more

  Speed Skiing season begins in Vars (FRA) ... more


 Inside FIS 

  Behind the scenes at Freestyle FIS World Cup ... more

  Nordic Junior Worlds rescheduled ... more


 In Depth 

  Mid-season thoughts by President Kasper ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

Many first time winners on Cross-Country's Canadian tour
Ladies pursuit podium
Photo: P. Doyle
Nikolai Pankratov (RUS)
Photo: P. Doyle

The Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country continued with four races, two distance and two sprint races, in Canmore (CAN) last week. The teams were met with excellent organization and outstanding winter conditions, with the challenging tracks prepared to the tee. For Justyna Kowalcyzk (POL), the Canadian tour turned out to be a great success, as she collected three podiums, a win in the pursuit race along with two third places. Evgenia Medvedeva (RUS) also celebrated two second places in the distance races while the winners included Slovenian Petra Majdic in the classical sprint and Ukranian Valentina Shevchenko in the free technique individual start race. In the final sprint in the free technique, the home favorite, 2006 Olympic champion in sprint Chandra Crawford˙(CAN)˙took her first World Cup victory. Finishing 11th, 4th, 7th and 6th, respectively, Virpi Kuitunen (FIN) overtook the World Cup leader's yellow bib from Charlotte Kalla (SWE) who skipped the trip to Canada due to sickness.

On the men's side, the Norwegians led by Boerre Naess opened with a five-fold victory in the classical technique sprint race. In a very exciting men's pursuit race, Nikolai Pankratov of Russia claimed his first World Cup victory in a very tight finish just 0.4 seconds ahead of the veteran Giorgio Di Centa (ITA). The top 18 skiers crossed the finish line within 9 seconds, including four German racers and three Russians and Italians each. On Friday, in the free technique distance race, Valerio Checchi (ITA) claimed his first-ever World Cup victory which was simultaneously his career-first podium. In the final sprint, yet another first-time winner Emil Joensson (SWE) stood on top of the podium.

Lukas Bauer (CZE), the winner of the 2nd edition of the Tour de Ski, continues to lead the overall World Cup standings with 816 points despite not competing in Canada. Ren‚ Sommerfeldt (GER) is now second with 607 points.

The next Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country competition will take place in Otep„„ (EST) from 9th-10th February. The event has been confirmed to take place since all the tracks are already covered with artificial snow with more snow preserved for final preparation.

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One of the busiest World Cup weekends: From Zakopane to Mt Gabriel
Marco Sullivan (USA)
Photo: Agence Zoom
Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT)
Photo: NordicFocus

In Zakopane (POL), thousands of spectators again gathered for the e.on Ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping competitions. Enjoying the world-famous Zakopane atmosphere, Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer fulfilled a childhood dream by winning there on Friday night. In the second competition, the winner was Anders Bardal from Norway who took his first career win in a competition that was held on Sunday, rather than Saturday night due to difficult weather conditions. Even on Sunday, the second round had to be cancelled due to changing winds.

Thanks to his third place on Friday and second place on Sunday, Thomas Morgenstern (AUT) made some more headway towards winning the overall World Cup. As the athletes head to Sapporo (JPN) for the next competitions, Morgenstern leads the overall rankings with 1255 points ahead of Janne Ahonen (FIN, 845 points) and Schlierenzauer (839 points).

In the Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined, Christoph Bieler had a strong showing in front of his home audience in Seefeld (AUT). After taking the victory in Saturday's sprint race, he finished 3rd on Sunday. The second competition on Sunday was originally planned as an Individual Gundersen competition, but changed to a sprint due to poor weather forecast with the Ski Jumping competition held already on Saturday night. In that, Jason Lamy Chappuis of France gained his second season victory by leaving the others no choice in the final kilometer. Thanks to his third and fifth places in Seefeld, Ronny Ackermann (GER) continues to wear the leader's yellow jersey. With his 956 overall points, he is clearly ahead of Bill Demong (USA, 741 points).

It was US boys' weekend in Chamonix (FRA) as the men's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup continued with the 60th Kandahar Trophy weekend. In the downhill on Saturday, Marco Sullivan used his gliding skills to win the first World Cup race of his career. On Sunday, in the season's third super combined, Bode Miller led the downhill en route to winning his second combined of the season. Miller's U.S. record 29th World Cup victory moved him into first place in the overall World Cup rankings. With one combined event remaining, Miller also holds a 90-point lead in the event rankings over Jean-Baptiste Grange of France.

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Denise Karbon (ITA)
Photo: Agence Zoom
Ladies' moguls
Photo: Mike Ridewood

In the ladies' Alpine World Cup in Ofterschwang (GER), Italy's Denise Karbon, skiing with a broken thumb, posted the fastest 2nd run and took her 5th season victory after finishing only 9th in the first run. She now only needs a 19th place in one of the two remaining races to confirm the small crystal globe in giant slalom. On Sunday, defending World Cup slalom champion Marlies Schild of Austria built a huge first-run lead and went on to win her fourth season slalom before Swede Therese Borssen.

Reigning World Cup champion Nicole Hosp (AUT) held onto her lead in the World Cup points. She now has 899 points over 773 for Lindsey Vonn (USA). The ladies' tour resumes speed racing next weekend in St. Moritz (SUI). The schedule calls for a downhill Saturday and super-G Sunday.

The Freestyle FIS World Cup in moguls continued in Mt. Gabriel (CAN) on Saturday. In the ladies competition, 2007 junior world champion Ekaterina Stolyarova of Russia won her first World Cup and took over the points leads in the mogul World Cup rankings. In the men's contest, Guilbaut Colas of France beat Ruslan Sharifullin of Russia under a brilliant blue sky and in front of a frenzied crowd of more than 5,000 fans. Dale Begg-Smith (AUS), who finished 5th, continues to lead the standings.

The aerial season in the Freestyle FIS World Cup continued in Mt. Gabriel (CAN) on Sunday. After posting a near-perfect score in the qualifying round, Canadian Steve Omischl proceeded to the 15th World Cup win of his career. In another strong showing for Belarus, Anton Kushnir took 2nd while Olympic medallist Dmitri Dashinski was third. The three top the aerial World Cup rankings in the same order. In the ladies' competition, Alla Tsuper of Belarus parlayed a huge first-round jump into victory in the historic women's aerials final. Three women broke the prestigious 200-point barrier in the same final for the first time. Two-time FIS world champion Nina Li of China finished second while Lydia Lassila of Australia took third. World Cup overall aerials leader Jacqui Cooper of Australia finished sixth but kept her leader's jersey.

The Freestyle FIS World Cup tour moves next to the Visa Freestyle International at Utah's Deer Valley Resort (USA). The schedule calls for aerials Friday night, the first World Cup U.S. ski cross - the newest Olympic ski event - Saturday afternoon and dual moguls Saturday night.

Two first-time winners celebrated in the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup half-pipe event in Bardonecchia (ITA). Anne Sophie Pellissier of France and Manuel Pietropoli of Italy triumphed at the 2006 Olympic venue with great first round performances. With his victory Pietropoli prevented a three-fold victory by the Finns who were led by Markus Malin. The snowboarders will continue in Leysin (SUI) with a snowboard cross this weekend.

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Val d'IsŠre 2008 - A full dress rehearsal for all involved!
The Face Bellevarde
Photo: OC Val d'Isere

With exactly one year to go until the 2009 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, Val d'IsŠre (FRA) will host the men's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup downhill and super combined races from 30th January - 3rd February, 2008. These competitions will serve as official test events for the championships.

The entire resort has come together for the preparations so that the slopes are up to the challenge of the prestigious event. The slopes to be used at these events are exactly the same as what will be raced in the 2009 World Championships, including the legendary Bellevarde Olympic "Face", which hasn't been used as a race slope since the 1992 Olympic Winter Games. The World Cup races, apart from being a full dress rehearsal for the Organizing Committee, will clearly be a major challenge for the athletes as they officially take on the legendary "Face" for the first time in 16 years, with its 959 meters of vertical drop!

There is no shortage of famous visitors in Val d'IsŠre as the President of the Republic, Nicholas Sarkozy, is expected to attend the downhill race on Saturday, along with the Premier Minister Fran‡ois Fillon and the two highest officials responsible for sports, Roselyne Bachelot, Minister for health, youth and sports and Bernard Laporte, Secretary of State for sports. Others in attendance include ski legends Patrick Ortlieb, Franck Piccard, Gnther Mader (the three medallists of the Olympic downhill in 1992), Steve Locher, Marc Girardelli and Bernhard Russi. Various side events are also planned. Among those, on Saturday evening, FIS World Cup title sponsor Audi will make the headlines with an auction in benefit of UNICEF presided by France's Laetitia Haliday. The items up for auction includ an Audi A3, footballer Bixente Lizarazu's surfboards, Kjetil Andr‚ Aamodt's skis, David Haliday's helmet and an authentic 1992 Olympic Games bib signed by all the legendary skiers in attendance.

For more information, visit the test event's web page at www.valsport.org. For more information on the 2009 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, visit www.valdisere2009.org.

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FIS Marathon Cup continues with spring-like Marcialonga
Marcialonga
Photo: NordicFocus
Anders Aukland (NOR)
Photo: NordicFocus

Last Sunday, it was time for Marcialonga (ITA), the fourth of the total of ten competitions in this season's FIS Marathon Cup (FMC). More than 5'000 racers participated, including 3'200 foreigners of whom 1'700 from Norway, and estimated 70'000 people cheered the athletes on along the track. Among the Norwegians, two of the country's biggest stars Bjoern Daehlie and Johann Olav Koss, together the winners of twelve Olympic gold medals, raced as Right To Play participants, promoting the international humanitarian organization working to create a healthier and safer world through the power of sport and play (visit www.righttoplay-ski.com for more).

After his victory, Anders Aukland (NOR) has grown his lead in the overall rankings to 72 points over Marco Cattaneo of Italy (208 points). Jerry Ahrlin of Sweden is now third, just three points behind Cattaneo. Last weekend's 35th edition of the Marcialonga was held in spring-like conditions. Among the ladies, it became a Swedish sweep of the podium at the Marcialonga. On top, Jenny Hansson celebrated the victory ahead of teammates Elin Ek and Susanne Nystrom. In the rankings, Russian Tatiana Jambaeva and Hansson are delivering a tight duel, both with two victories and currently just 30 points apart (280 vs. 250). Jambaeva was best in the two skating races, La Sgambeda (ITA) and Dolomitenlauf (AUT), while Hansson has triumphed in the two classical races Jizersk  pades tka (CZE) and Marcialonga. Elin Ek ranks 3rd at present.

With the 36th K”nig-Ludwig-Lauf (GER) this coming weekend, the FMC will reach its season half-way point. In Oberammergau (GER), warm weather, including temperatures of up to +15C, and the dreaded F”hn that have dominated since the beginning of January have also made it impossible to carry out the 36th K”nig-Ludwig-Lauf on the original course. However, thanks to great efforts by the organizers, the event will take place on a 21km alternative course and the race distances will be 21km and 42km, instead of the planned 23km and 50km. Thereafter in February, the FMC is scheduled to continue with La Transjurassienne (FRA) and Tartu Marathon (EST), weather and snow situation permitting. For more information and regular updates, visit www.worldloppet.com

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Speed Skiing season begins in Vars (FRA)
Photo: OC Sun Peaks
Speed Skiing in Vars (FRA)

The FIS Speed Skiing World Cup will kick off in Vars (FRA) this weekend, from 30th January - 3rd February 2008. Vars will also host the FIS Speed Skiing World Championships in 2009, just a few days before the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Val d'IsŠre. This year's World Cup is the first time that the world's fastest skiers will compete in Vars. The best of the scene are scheduled to compete on the slope of ChabriŠres, including the 2007 men's world champion Simone Origone (ITA), vice champion Philippe May (SUI) and bronze medalist Bastien Montes (FRA). Among the ladies, the favorites include 2007 world champion Sanna Tidstrand (SWE) and Tracie Sachs (USA). Some 10 nations and 50 racers will be competing.

After Vars, the season will continue in early March with the Velocity Challenge in Sun Peaks (CAN). This will be the sixth time that Sun Peaks is hosting a FIS World Cup event. Sun Peaks Resort is home to 9 members of the 200K Club and skiers from the resort have over 100 years combined speed skiing experience. Over the last 18 years "The Headwall Speed Skiing Track" has seen nearly 8000 speed skiing runs. In fact, Sun Peaks is the only venue continuously holding speed skiing events in all of North America.

At the end of March, 2008, the season will continue with the H„kki Jubilee in Salla (FIN), in honor of the long-time Chairman of the FIS Speed Skiing Committee, Kalevi `H„k„' H„kkinen (FIN). The Salla event will be followed by two races in S„len/Idre (SWE) in early April before which the tour will return to Central Europe for the races in Breuil/Cervinia (ITA) and the season finals in Verbier (SUI) from 14th-17th April.

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 Inside FIS 

Behind the scenes at Freestyle FIS World Cup
Steve Omischl (CAN)
Photo: Mike Ridewood

This season, several National Ski Associations are part of an innovative multi-media pilot project to provide the fans and extended FIS Family with a chance to get inside the Freestyle FIS World Cup. In November, the National Ski Associations of Canada, Finland, Sweden and Australia came together with FIS to define and finance a one-man camera/editor crew that is travelling with the teams to provide regular updates and interesting news from the tour.

These reports include previews of upcoming Freestyle FIS World Cups, pre- and post-race interviews with the athletes including event winners, and deliver key bits of information on the sport, the athletes and the tour.

"This is an extremely exciting pilot project for us to be involved in," said Grant McDiarmaid, VP Marketing of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association and Canada's representative on the FIS PR & Mass Media Committee. "This is providing freestyle skiing fans an opportunity to check in on their favourite skiers and see behind the scenes at each Freestyle FIS World Cup. It is exactly the kind of web-based media that all disciplines at FIS need to get ahead of the curve on. This gives us the opportunity to tell stories as well as report on results, and we all know that the web, be it for features, news or competition broadcasts - is where we must be to excite a new generation."

As an example, the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association is publishing the video clips on its web site. Check in˙here regularly to catch the latest news!

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Nordic Junior Worlds rescheduled

The FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships and U-23 Cross-Country Championships that originally were scheduled to be held in Szczyrk-Wisla (POL) from 3rd-10th February, 2008 had to be cancelled due to a lack of snow. The event has been rescheduled to 21st-28th February 2008. The new official competition program can be viewed here. The official snow control will be conducted on 11th February, 2008.

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 In Depth 

Mid-season thoughts by President Kasper
President Gian Franco Kasper
Photo: NordicFocus

FIS Newsflash had a chance to sit down with FIS President Gian Franco Kasper to hear his assessment of the 2007/08 season at the half-way point.

"We are quite happy with the season so far. We have seen great competitions and rather few schedule changes or cancellations. Of course, the excellent snow conditions that we enjoyed in November have had to give way to very warm temperatures, especially in January. Yet, thanks to the significant snowfalls in the early season, most tourist resorts in particular in the higher altitudes continue to have enough snow and offer good conditions for ski activities," said President Kasper.

"We are especially pleased to see such a broad distribution of podium places. A great number of nations have already been on the podium this season, a total of 15 in Alpine Skiing and as many as 17 in Snowboarding, for example. For us as the International Ski Federation, it is very important to have successful athletes from as many countries as possible. This is key for the future development and interest in our sports," he added.

Looking forward to the rest of the season, President Kasper noted: "The greatest season highlight will be the 20th FIS Ski Flying World Championships in Oberstdorf (GER) in less than a month. After that, we are looking forward to the FIS Grand Finals in Bormio (ITA). It will be the third time that we are able to organize the common finals for the FIS disciplines. After 2000 and 2004, Italy will play host for this major event for the third time. We do hope to stage such a joint end of season event for most or all our disciplines in the future as well. The Ski Jumping finals in Planica will also be a special occasion this year. It is not often that all the European ministers of sport attend one of our highlight events. This will be a great opportunity for us to promote our sports, and also to garner support for our `Bring Kids Back to the Snow' initiative."

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