|News from the World of Skiing|
|News from the World of Skiing|
|Mr Kasper with K Neumannova|
Photo: Ota Mrakota
The e.on Ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping events in Liberec (CZE) last weekend were the first official test events for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2009 in a year's time. On Friday night, Thomas Morgenstern (AUT) dominated the first competition, taking already his tenth season victory. On Saturday, it was the turn of Anders Jacobsen of Norway to take his first season victory. Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer finished second both days. After the Liberec weekend, Morgenstern now leads the overall World Cup by almost 600 points over Schlierenzauer with only seven individual competitions remaining on the schedule.
Commenting on the first test weekend, FIS President Gian Franco Kasper noted: "From the perspective of sports organization, the first test events went well. Inevitably, small adaptations will need to be made on the sports-technical side. Considerably more work remains on completing the infrastructure, such as the venue entry ways, and improving the appearance of the venues, for example. At the same time, we at FIS continue to be concerned about the explosion of accommodation prices especially for the officials and media representatives." He summed up: "After the first test weekend, however, we can say that while there is still much work to do, we are optimistically looking forward to the 2009 Championships in Liberec."
This coming weekend, the 2009 test events will continue with the Cross-Country and Nordic Combined World Cups. It will be the first time that the FIS Cross-Country World Cup will take place in Liberec-Vesec, the new ski area built on a 'green field' in the southeastern part of Liberec. Nordic Combined already had a chance to race on some of the trails in Vesec in 2005, but has yet to test the renovated jumping facility in Jested and the new stadium. Due to the warm weather and the related lack of snow, the organizing committee has been forced to bring snow down from the mountains surrounding Liberec. Since the ground is soft and wet, the races will be held on the paved roller skiing track. This change also caused an adaptation in the racing program for Nordic Combined. The schedule now calls for a sprint on Friday, an individual Gundersen on Saturday and another sprint, in the new qualification format, on Sunday.
|Lukas Bauer (CZE)|
|Atmosphere in GAP|
Photo: Agence Zoom
Returning back to Europe, the Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country visited rainy and wet Otep„„ (EST) last weekend. Virpi Kuitunen (FIN), in her element in the classical technique, grew her World Cup points lead by taking a victory in the individual start distance race and finishing 3rd in the sprint. The Finnish ladies had an excellent showing altogether by placing three athletes in the top six on Saturday. Kuitunen now leads both the overall and distance World Cups. In the sprint rankings, Astrid Jacobsen (NOR) continues to lead ahead of Petra Majdic (SLO) who won the sprint race on Sunday ahead of Jacobsen.
In the men's distance race, Lukas Bauer (CZE) made an impressive comeback to World Cup racing after having skipped the Canadian Tour. He led from start to finish, winning clearly ahead of the local hero Jaak Mae (EST). Bauer now has a solid lead of almost 300 points over Rene Sommerfeldt (GER) in the overall Cup rankings. In the men's sprint, Eldar Roenning (NOR) took his first season victory ahead of two of his teammates. Emil Joensson (SWE) finished 4th and maintained the lead in the sprint World Cup.
As the men's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup continued at the classical site of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Reinfried Herbst of Austria posted the fastest times in both runs to win the slalom last Saturday. Herbst beat Manfred Moelgg of Italy to take his second career win on the new Gudiberg course that runs parallel to the ski jumping hill and finishes in the famous Olympic stadium. Season slalom comet Jean-Baptiste Grange kept his event leader's red jersey despite finishing 25th.
World Cup overall leader Bode Miller (USA) straddled a gate in the first run which enabled runner-up Benjamin Raich of Austria to catch up with his 11th place finish. The men's tour continues in Zagreb (CRO) next Sunday. This will the first time that the men join the ladies in the Croatian capital for a slalom race.
|Two first-time winners in Sestriere|
Photo: Agence Zoom
|Aerials World Cup leaders|
Photo: Mike Ridewood
The ladies' Audi FIS Alpine World Cup was back at the Olympic venue of Sestriere (ITA) last weekend. On Saturday, Lindsey Vonn (USA) took her fifth season win as she triumphed by more than a half second over Canadian Kelly VanderBeek in the downhill. She has now won four of the seven downhills this season. Nadia Fanchini of Italy took third, the first podium for the Italian ladies' team in the speed events this season. In the downhill FIS World Cup standings, Vonn could wrap up the downhill World Cup honors in the next race in Vancouver (CAN) later this month. In Sunday's super-G, two first-time winners topped the podium when Andrea Fischbacher of Austria and Fabienne Suter of Switzerland tallied identical finish times. With a single super-G left on the calendar, Maria Riesch (GER) solidified her place at the top of the standings with a third place finish.
After the Sestriere weekend, Lindsey Vonn and Nicole Hosp (AUT) are tied for the overall points lead with Riesch holding 3rd. The ladies will next compete for the SnowQueen Trophy in Zagreb (CRO) on Friday night.
Exactly two years now remain until Friday, 12th February, 2010, when the world's best winter sport's athletes parade into B.C. Place Stadium to begin the 17-day experience at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The Freestyle FIS World Cup at Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver last weekend was the first chance for some of them to experience a future Olympic venue. Unfortunately, the weather played havoc with the competitions since the men's and ladies' moguls had to be cancelled and the aerials events finalized on the basis of qualifying results due to foggy conditions. Cypress Mountain is the closest 2010 snow venue to the Pacific Ocean, which can be a blessing for the priceless view on a crystal clear day and a curse when it is cloudy, as it was last weekend.
Australian Jacqui Cooper, the reigning World Cup winner, beat teammate Lydia Lassila in the ladies aerials as she stuck her full, full, full (three twists, three flips). In the men's event, Steve Omischl of Canada won over runner-up Dmitri Dashinski of Belarus and registered his 16th FIS World Cup victory. Canadian Warren Shouldice posted the same score as Dashinski and finished 3rd. It was the fourth win in six starts this season for both Omischl and Cooper who also recorded the 23rd World Cup victory of her career.
At the season's fifth and second-to-last NOKIA Snowboard World Cup big air in Moscow (RUS), Stefan Gimpl (AUT) proved again to be the man to beat. The 28-year-old Austrian took both his third consecutive World Cup victory (after Sofia and Graz) and secured the first crystal globe of the current Snowboarding season, his 2nd after 2006. An enthusiastic crowd of 25'000 spectators attended the event on Moscow State University campus. In a battle of generations in the big final, 15-year-old Roope Tonteri (FIN) pushed himself to the limit, missing the landing and finishing 2nd in the end.
|Listel Ski Fantasia|
The coming weekend will see the staging of the main test events for both the 2009 FIS Snowboard Championships at Sungwoo Resort, in the Gangwon province (KOR), and the 2009 FIS Freestyle Championships in Inawashiro (JPN).
As in 2005 and 2007, Sungwoo - located just two hours away from Seoul - will host the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup parallel giant slalom, half-pipe and, for the first time, snowboard cross events for both the ladies and men. The events between Friday 15th February and Sunday 17th February 2008 will serve as a perfect test for the 8th FIS Snowboard World Championships which will be the first ones to take place in Asia in January 2009. The resort can presently boast excellent snow conditions and idyllic cold, clear winter weather and today's official training for the snowboard cross and in the halfpipe was appreciated by the teams. FIS Race Director Marcel Looze commented "We have already seen considerable progress with the preparations for this year's World Cup event and the Organizing Committee is highly motivated to gain more experience this week and work very hard to deliver first class championships next year". For more information, visit www.gangwon2009.or.kr
At the same time in Japan, the test events for the 2009 Worlds will include moguls and aerials events at Listel Ski Fantasia on the weekend, 16th-17th February, while Friday's half-pipe competitions in Altz Bandai will kick off the activities on Friday, 15th February.
In Japan, this winter has been colder than usual with much more snow than last year. Thanks to this, the course preparation has gone smoothly. The half-pipe competitions in Altz Bandai will be the first-ever Freestyle half-pipe events in Asia. Since 1988, when the first FIS World Cup event was held in Japan, it will be the 13th time for Listel Fantasia to host the world's best freestylers. Known as one of the most difficult courses of its kind in the world, the mogul course at Listel is in the final stages of preparation. By contrast, it will be the first time since 1992 for Listel to welcome back the aerialists. Altogether, 280 athletes and team officials from 19 nations will be visiting Japan during the 2009 test events. The community of Inawashiro has established a special "Supporters Club" that will be on site to cheer the athletes from around the world.
The FIS Freestyle World Championships are scheduled in Inawashiro from 2nd-8th March, 2009. The official event web site can be found at www.inawashiro2009.jp/english
|Schlinig Cross-Country center|
Continuing warm weather again severely disrupted the plans for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships and U-23 Cross-Country Championships 2008. Originally scheduled in Szczyrk (POL) in early February and rescheduled there from 21st-28th February, 2008, they finally had to be cancelled due to lack of snow.
The Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined events have now been rescheduled in Zakopane (POL) from 25th February- 1st March. At the same time, the Cross-Country events both for the junior and U-23 categories will be staged in Malles, Val Venosta (ITA).
Zakopane was able to step in as host for the Ski Jumping and Combined events immediately after it hosts the Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined from 23rd-24th February. A many-time host of the legendary FIS World Cup Ski Jumping events, Zakopane can rely on a tried-and-tested team and proven facilities to welcome the juniors.
Good conditions also await the Cross-Country athletes in Malles Venosta (Mals), at the Cross-Country stadium of Schlinig (for more, see here),˙ in the province of Bolzano, South-Tyrol, Italy, close to the Austrian and Swiss borders. "The decision to take over the event was only made on Monday so it is a great challenge for us to get ready in just 10 days. For example, we are still working on confirming the financing. But the good news is that we can offer excellent snow conditions and all team accommodation will be within a 15 km radius. The entire organizing committee is very motivated and looking forward to welcoming the young racers," commented Alfred Lingg, chief of the Malles Venosta team. No newcomers to organizing sports events, Malles Venosta has previous hosted the Italian national championships on several occasions, and other major competitions such as the world championships and European championships in winter triathlon along with various summer events.
|Cape Town (RSA)|
The preparations for the 46th International Ski Congress in Cape Town (RSA) from 25th-30th May 2008 are progressing. The official registration deadline of 31st January 2008 has now passed and all applications received are being processed. The National Ski Associations and Committee Chairmen have been sent the 'provisional Congress Book' last week containing the various proposals that will be dealt with during the Congress. The Meeting Agenda und the final Congress Book will follow in March or early April by post and be published on the FIS web site.
The provisional timetable for the Committee meetings planned during the 2008 FIS Congress has also been published and can be accessed here. The timetable has already been reviewed by the Committee Chairmen but may be subject to further modifications.
To prepare for the 13th Olympic Congress to be held in Copenhagen (DEN) in October 2009, the International Olympic Committee is calling on the general public to contribute to the future of the Olympic Movement. One of the themes that the IOC is asking the public-at-large to comment on are the athletes.
Within this major topic area, the three sub-themes that can be commented are "Relationship between the athletes, the clubs, federations and NOCs", "Health protection in training and competition" and "The social and professional life of athletes during and after elite competition."
These topic areas include such issues as whether adjustments should be made in order to better protect the interests of both the athletes and the various bodies involved in the support structure or where improvements still need to be made to protect the athletes' health. Similarly, how and when athletes should be given the opportunity to prepare for life after elite competition.
To contribute or find out more on the public consultation process, visit www.2009congress.olympic.org. Each individual may contribute two comments of up to 1000 words.
|Trophy for winning club|
FISI, the Italian Winter Sports Federation, together with FIS is addressing Italian ski clubs and young kids, as a lead-in for FIS's world-wide "Bring Kids Back to the Snow" campaign. FISI has invited all Italian ski clubs to present their new youth programs that support the youth, education and family development through snow-related activities.
The ski club's submissions to the campaign will have to describe their current season's initiatives along with the ones planned for the upcoming winter. A jury made up of representatives of FIS, FISI and local authorities will evaluate the projects, also considering the number of young members in each ski club and the events organized for the under-14 category.
The best ten ski clubs will be awarded a special crystal trophy and the opportunity to present their projects to the guests and media representatives during the FIS Grand Finals 2008. The ceremony will take place on March 12th, after the men's downhill event. The project concept under the umbrella of the "Bring Kids Back to Snow" campaign will be presented at the 46th International Ski Congress in Cape Town (RSA) in May 2008.