|News from the World of Skiing|
|News from the World of Skiing|
|Thomas Morgenstern (AUT)|
Photo: Nordic Focus
|Jean-Marc Gaillard (FRA)|
Photo: Nordic Focus
At the e.on Ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping in Willingen (GER), Thomas Morgenstern (AUT) finished 5th which was enough for him to clinch the overall FIS World Cup title. With six individual events to go, he is already 601 points ahead of teammate Gregor Schlierenzauer.
Schlierenzauer and Janne Ahonen of Finland still had theoretical chances to win the title, but finished 8th and 9th respectively. 21-year-old Morgenstern is the first Austrian winner of the overall World Cup title in 12 years, since Andreas Goldberger. `Morgi' started the season by setting a new record of six consecutive wins and has so far won 10 competitions, and never ranked lower than 8th.
Bjoern Einar Romoeren of Norway had the best jump in the final round to win Sunday's individual competition. The Norwegians had a great team performance as four of them made the top ten, along with two Finns and three Austrians. Norway also bested the field in the team event on Saturday.
In Liberec, the FIS World Cups in Cross-Country and Nordic Combined, which also served as the main 2009 test events, were held last weekend. Following Friday's cancellation of the first Nordic Combined event due to changing winds, Cross-Country skiers kicked off the competitions. In the men's race, Jean Marc Gaillard of France took his maiden World Cup victory, which was also the first podium place for France this season. Thanks to his 2nd place, Lukas Bauer (CZE) increased his World Cup points lead to 353 points. In the ladies' race, 23-year-old Astrid Jacobsen (NOR) claimed a narrow victory over Justyna Kowalcyzk (POL). With her 3rd place finish, Charlotte Kalla (SWE) again neared World Cup leader Virpi Kuitunen, who gathered no points and sees her lead cut to 89 points. On Sunday, Norway won both the men's and ladies' team sprints, ahead of teams from Finland, thus strengthening its lead in the Nations' Cup.
In the Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined, Saturday's Individual Gundersen event had to be changed to a mass start race followed by two jumps at night when the morning wind had subsided. Petter Tande of Norway turned out to be the most consistent across the two disciplines, prevailing in front of Anssi Koivuranta from Finland. Sunday's competition was again cancelled due to difficult wind conditions. Ronny Ackermann (GER) - 3rd on Saturday - continues to lead the World Cup overall rankings.
|Tanja Poutiainen (FIN)|
Photo: Agency Zoom
|Jiayu Liu (CHN)|
Photo: Agency Zoom
The Audi FIS Alpine World Cup continued in Zagreb (CRO), where Tanja Poutiainen (FIN) took her second victory in the well-known Friday night slalom. She claimed the Snow Queen Trophy half a second ahead of Marlies Schild of Austria, another two-time winner in the Croatian capital. In the absence of the other Cup points leader Lindsey Vonn, Nicole Hosp (AUT) missed an opportunity to put some distance between the two of them as she DNF-ed. With her 2nd place, Schild took the lead in the slalom standings with 540 points. Hosp maintained 2nd with 465 points while Poutiainen moved into 3rd.
On Sunday, in the men's premiere slalom event in Zagreb, Croatia's Ivica Kostelic raced to 2nd place despite the roaring 20'000 fans driving him on. Mario Matt (AUT) had a first run lead on the icy Sljeme slope and maintained his calm to collect the win. There were a total of nine nations represented in the top 10 of the final standings and the top eight men finished within one second!
World Cup points leader Bode Miller of the United States failed to qualify for the second run but since current runner-up Benjamin Raich of Austria was only 26th, there was no significant change in the World Cup overall rankings. Following his third season victory, Matt is now only 57 points behind slalom standings leader Jean-Baptiste Grange of France who did not finish. There are two more slalom races on the schedule this season.
In Inawashiro (JPN), the FIS World Cup events also serving as the test events for the FIS Freestyle World Championships were carried out last weekend. In the season's second half-pipe contest, Team Canada took both of the top spots as World Cup leader Sarah Burke won the ladies' event and Matthew Hayward the men's. On Saturday, the men's and ladies moguls were held on the infamously steep slope which proved challenging to many competitors. In the ladies' competition, Aiko Uemura of Japan took her first World Cup victory in three years and the first one on home soil in front of thousands of fans. Margarita Marbler (AUT) kept her lead in the World Cup points. In the men's race, the reigning World Cup moguls champion and rankings leader Dale Begg-Smith of Australia left the rest of the field no chance to catch him.
Sunday's aerials saw Jacqui Cooper (AUS) take already her fifth win in seven competitions this season. Belarusian Anton Kushnir won the men's event ahead of World Cup leader Steve Omischl of Canada.
The NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup travelled to Sungwoo (KOR) with three competitions staged for both ladies and men and similarly, the event was carried out as the main test for the FIS Snowboard World Championships. In the enthralling SBX races, Maelle Ricker (CAN) and Pierre Vaultier (FRA) claimed victory in the event's debut on Korean soil. Both also took over the lead in the SBX World Cup rankings. In half-pipe, Jiayu Liu claimed the historical first-ever FIS Snowboard World Cup victory for China in the ladies competition. Liu's win did not come as a surprise since she has already collected a second and a third place finish last season. In the men's half-pipe, the reigning half-pipe FIS World Cup champion Ryoh Aono of Japan celebrated his second triumph this season. In the concluding PGS, Austria took a double victory as Doris Guenther and Benjamin Karl triumphed. Yet Nicolien Sauerbreij (NED) in 2nd reclaimed the lead in the ladies parallel World Cup from another Austrian, Heidi Neururer. On the men's side, a tight battle for the parallel World Cup trophy continues between Mathieu Bozzetto (FRA) and Sunday's winner Karl.
|Ski Flying hill Oberstdorf (GER)|
The 20th FIS Ski Flying World Championships, are about to begin: it will be the fifth time that Oberstdorf (GER) is playing host to the championships and the first time ever that the world's best ski flyer will be crowned at night. The official opening ceremony for the four-day event will take place at night on Thursday, 21st February 2008.
Just last week, the Heini Klopfer Ski Flying facility was inspected by Wolfgang Happle, Chairman of the FIS Sub-Committee for Jumping Hill who awarded the hill its new certificate. Several aspects of the facility have been reconstructed, including a wider tower and brand-new floodlight installations (featuring no less than 170 spotlights along the landing slope and in the outrun, and another 188 lamps along the inrun track) amongst other things, at a total cost of 1.3 million Euros, creating excellent conditions for the winter's highlight event.
This past fortnight, Oberstdorf has had ideal weather conditions: bright sunshine during day, freezing nights, as cold as -10C. Thanks to sophisticated snow-making facilities, ample amounts of snow have been produced - enough to manage even in the case of a warm Foehn wind - and the competition facilities are perfectly prepared for the approximately 80 athletes from 18 nations.
The Organizing Committee is expecting up to 80'000 spectators during the four days from Thursday, 21st February to Sunday, 24th February. Ticket sales have been going well yet there will be sufficient standing space in the Ski Flying Arena for all late comers as theoretically up to 40'000 spectators can be accommodated every day. As many as 750 volunteers are working to create a perfect celebration for the fans of Ski Flying both on site and at home in front of their TVs. More than 400 media have been accredited and will be in place to report from the beautiful Allgu. For more information, visit http://www.skifliegen-oberstdorf.com/
|Whistler Mountain (CAN)|
A week of alpine ski racing commenced on Tuesday, 19th February, with the ladies' first downhill training run at Whistler (CAN). Both the ladies' and men's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup tours are visiting the 2010 Olympic venue this week. The men will compete in a super-G on Thursday, 21st February and in a giant slalom on Saturday, 23rd February. The ladies will compete in a downhill on Friday, 22nd February and in a super combined on Sunday, 24th February. The men's races will be held on the Dave Murray Downhill while the ladies race on the course named Franz's Run.
These competitions will serve as the test events for all things related to the operations on the field of play for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games to be held on the same courses. This week will also be the only time that both the ladies and men's World Cup tours gather in one place in North America before 2010. Yet it will be the eighth time that Whistler is staging the FIS World Cup, the last time dating back to 1995. Various changes have been made to both of the courses since the last World Cup races were held to modernize them to meet today's standards for safety, speed and technique.
Another premiere at Whistler this week is represented by the TV production operation. It will be the first large-scale event where Infront's Winter Sports division will be cooperating in TV production both with Infront Production that usually implements the European ski production deliverables and Infront HBS, best known for its FIFA World Cup host broadcasts in Korea/Japan, Germany and presently in South Africa, the 32nd America's Cup host coverage in Spain and the Asian Games host broadcast operations in Qatar.
Following the IOC Executive Board's approval of the qualification systems for all sports on the program of the Olympic Winter Games 2010 in Vancouver in December 2007, the qualification criteria have now been provided to the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) by the IOC. The National Ski Associations received details in the Short Summary of the Council Meeting last November, and the full document as provided to the NOCs can be found on the FIS Web site. To download a copy, click here.
|Lara Gut (SUI)|
Photo: Agency Zoom
The ski resort of Aramon Formigal will serve as the first Spanish host of the FIS Alpine Junior World Ski Championships from 22nd February until 1st March 2008. Situated in the Tena Valley in the Aragon Pyrenees, in the region of Aragon, Formigal is getting ready to stage an unforgettable event for almost 400 athletes aged 15-20 representing some 40 countries from around the world. His Majesty The King Juan Carlos I himself is chairing the Honorary Committee of the event. Altogether some 600 team members, officials and media representatives are expected at the resort as the young racers will compete in the downhill, super-G, giant slalom and slalom races. The technical events will be held on the Collado slope while the piste for the speed events is called Tres Hombres.
The ladies Super-G on Sunday, 23rd February will kick off the competition schedule and the first winners will receive their prizes at the prize-giving during the official opening celebration in Sallent de Gallego on the evening of 24th February. The men's and ladies' giant slalom events on Friday, 29th February are scheduled to conclude the event.
The organizing team has been working hard to welcome the world's best young alpine ski racers. Many of the talents have already made a name for themselves in the Continental Cups and, some even at the World Cup level, including the Swiss shooting star Lara Gut, the current leader of the ladies' European Cup overall ranking, Nina Loeseth of Norway, who posted a 5th place finish in the Zagreb ladies slalom last Friday, and Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany, along with many others.
For more information, visit the event's home page here.
|Anette Sagen (NOR)|
Photo: OC Schnwald
The unseasonably warm weather in several parts of Europe has severely impacted the winter season in the ladies` Continental Cup in Ski Jumping. Altogether six events have had to be cancelled so far, including those in Finland in December, Slovenia in January and Austria in February.
Last weekend, two individual competitions took place in Breitenberg/Rastbchl (GER) where 64 competitors from 12 nations were at the start. Altogether young ladies from 16 nations have participated during the winter season. Before the season highlight, the 3rd Junior World Championships for the ladies, now rescheduled for Zakopane (POL) and set for 28th February, the last two competitions of the so-called Ladies Grand Prix will take place in Baiersbronn and Schnwald (GER). In fact, this is the tenth time the traditional series of events in Germany are staged which is at the core of the ladies' Continental Cup series.
Currently, Anette Sagen of Norway leads the overall Continental Cup rankings with 830 points. Daniela Iraschko (AUT) is ranked 2nd with 636 points ahead of teammate Jaqueline Seifriedsberger who has collected 561 points. A total of 58 ladies have scored Continental Cup points, the majority of whom still qualify in the junior category. A reason enough to expect exciting events in Zakopane, just a year before the historical FIS World Championships to be carried out in Liberec (CZE) in 2009.
|International ski delegation|
FIS President Gian Franco Kasper had the pleasure of being received by the President of the Republic of Croatia, Stjepan Mesic during his visit to the FIS Alpine World Cup events last weekend. President Mesic received an international ski delegation that also included the President of the Croatian Ski Association Srecko Ferencak, Honorarye President Milan Tumara, Head Secretary of the Croatian Olympic Committee Josipa Copa, ski legends Ingemar Stenmark, Bojan Krizaj and Ursko Horvat, as well as FIS Marketing and Communications Director Christian Knauth.
President Kasper noted the positive development of the Croatian Ski Association in the past six years, leading to the organization of both the ladies' and men's World Cup events this season. President Mesic highlighted the century of skiing history in his country this year and the great accomplishments of the young athletes including the Kostelic siblings and now also many others.
|Fans in Adelboden|
Photo: Agency Zoom
At its meeting in Bariloche (ARG) in November 2007, the FIS Council decided that FIS undertake a year-long project which aims to `optimize' the FIS Alpine World Cup. The goal of the project is to assess the current state of the event series and suggest improvements designed to attract new fans to the sport of skiing and especially to alpine ski racing, as well as to bring additional value to current fans and partners of the sport. The project will concentrate on the areas of TV production, look and feel of the circuit, and event marketing, promotion and fan experience activities. FIS is collaborating with Infront Sports & Media AG of Zug (SUI) in this project.
Various experts from all different interest areas have been invited to contribute to the project. Following the initial brainstorming and development of ideas in progress, specific recommendations will be submitted to the FIS Council at its next meeting in Cape Town (RSA) at the end of May 2008.
The Norwegian Ski Association is celebrating its 100th anniversary this week. The celebrations started already in November in conjunction with the Cross-Country World Cup event in Beitostoelen. The Association was officially founded on 21st February 1908 and the main weekend of celebrations around the country is planned for this coming weekend, 22nd-24th February. The main anniversary party, a reception in the presence of His Majesty The King of Norway is taking place tonight, Wednesday 20th February in the Oslo Town Hall. FIS President Gian Franco Kasper will deliver congratulations on behalf of the international ski family together with Secretary General Sarah Lewis.
Other activities taking place this week include a Ski Cultural Conference on Thursday while a new exhibition was opened on Wednesday in the Norwegian National Library entitled "Born with Skis on Feet?" In the course of the year, dozens of activities are underway, especially geared at bringing and keeping the children and youngsters on snow. The festivities will end in June with the skitinget.
The FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Ǻre (SWE) has been nominated as one of the five candidates for the Best Public Event in Sweden in 2007. There were 120 applications and the winner will be selected among the five finalists by the Swedish Sponsor & Event Association. The award for the best sponsor and event project are awarded for the 11th time this year. Some of the other projects nominated in the category for the Best Public Event are the Peak Performance King of Style and the Tobogganing World Championships. Altogether there are seven categories in which awards are given. In 2006, the Best Public Event award went to the telecommunications company TeliaSonera AB for its Telia Music event.