News from the World of Skiing 

  Perfect Austrian weekend at 2008 Ski Flying World Championships ... more

  World Cups on three continents ... more

  Alpine Junior Worlds under the Spanish sun ... more

  Cross-Country Juniors and U-23 in progress in Malles (ITA) ... more

  Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Junior Championships begin in Zakopane (POL) ... more


 Inside FIS 

  IOC Coordination Commission reviews progress in Vancouver ... more


 Member News 

  Finnish Ski Association celebrates centenary ... more

  Ski racing loses a great friend ... more

  17th Asian Junior Championship held in Lebanon ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

Perfect Austrian weekend at 2008 Ski Flying World Championships
Grand stand in Oberstdorf
Photo: Daniel Gehring
Team Austria

Some 70'000 spectators attended the three competition days and one training/qualification day during the 2008 FIS Ski Flying World Championships in Oberstdorf (GER). Once again the experienced organizers in the Bavarian Allgaeu delivered a wonderful winter sports festival, marked by superb athletic performances. Thanks to impeccable planning, the beautiful, spring-like weather (up to +18C!) that has been melting the snow around Central Europe had no chance of disrupting the schedule.

The star of the weekend was 18-year-old Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer, who captured the title of the youngest ever World Champion in Ski Flying in the individual competition consisting of four rounds. Schlierenzauer took his first flight on any Ski Flying hill in Thursday's training and got better and better at each attempt. In Sunday's team competition he was the core of the Austrian team on its way to team gold, the second one for Schlierenzauer.

Schilerenzauer's teammate Martin Koch also collected two medals, as he won the silver on Saturday along with the team gold. The five-time Four-Hills-Tournament winner Janne Ahonen (FIN) rose from 7th place after the first day to claim the bronze medal. Bjoern Einar Romoeren (NOR), the Ski Flying distance record holder (239m), leading after the first two rounds was eventually left without a medal in 4th place. Ahonen, too, captured two medals as the Finnish team won silver in the team event ahead of the Norwegian team, while the host country Germany finished 4th.

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World Cups on three continents
Jacobsen & Bjoergen
Photo: NordicFocus
Whistler men's GS podium
Photo: Agence Zoom

The traditional Scandinavian Tour within the Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country launched in Falun (SWE) last weekend. In the ladies' pursuit competition, Astrid Jacobsen of Norway collected already her third consecutive victory after two wins the previous weekend in Liberec (CZE). Recovering from a mid-season low, Marit Bjoergen returned to the podium in 2nd place. In the men's race, Lukas Bauer (CZE) scored his 4th season win ahead of Tord Asle Gjerdalen (NOR) who made his first podium appearance. In the team events on Sunday, Norway claimed victory in both relays.

Wednesday night, at the fifth Royal Palace Sprint in Stockholm (SWE), Virpi Kuitunen (FIN)˙grew her lead in the overall World Cup standings by taking her third season victory. Kuitunen is now 86 points ahead of Jacobsen. The third place finish by Natsumi Madoka was the first ever podium place for a Japanese Cross-Country skier. In the men's classical sprint, only Cyril Miranda (FRA) managed to break the Scandinavian domination as Jens Arte Svartedal (NOR) won the Palace Sprint for the third time. Lukas Bauer continues to lead the overall standings by more than 400 points as the World Cup now moves to Lahti (FIN) for the Ski Games.

After two cancellations in Liberec, warm weather conditions again wrought havoc in the Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined schedule. Saturday's competition in Zakopane (POL) had to be cancelled after unseasonably warm temperatures melted the snow from the Cross-Country Skiing track. With a lot of effort and aided by colder weather overnight, Sunday's sprint race was held as planned. The exciting race saw Bernhard Gruber (AUT) as a first time World Cup winner. Tommy Schmid of Switzerland finished 2nd, claiming the first World Cup podium for Switzerland in ten years. Bill Demong (USA) in 3rd closed the gap between him and the overall World Cup leader Ronny Ackermann (GER).

The 2010 Olympic courses at Whistler Mountain (CAN) had their first official test last weekend as the men's and ladies Audi FIS Alpine World Cups stopped there. In the men's events, the Austrians were the measure of all things, taking four of the six podium places. In the sunny super-G race on Thursday, Christoph Gruber collected his fifth career World Cup win as he edged teammate Hannes Reichelt. Ales Gorza took third, the first World Cup podium for the Slovenian. On Saturday, in the giant slalom, it was Reichelt's turn to win ahead of super-G and downhill standings leader, Didier Cuche (SUI).

With Benjamin Raich's third place finish in GS, he gained slightly on Bode Miller (USA), DNF on Thursday and seventh on Saturday, in the overall World Cup rankings. Didier Cuche is also back in the game, just 105 points behind Miller. The men's Tour continues in Kvitfjell (NOR) with a double downhill - one super-G line-up.

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Lindsey Vonn (USA)
Photo: Agence Zoom
Nicolien Sauerbreij (NED)

Lindsey Vonn (USA) may have missed the victory in the ladies' downhill by one hundredth of a second but her 2nd place finish was enough for her to clinch the World Cup downhill crystal globe.. Vonn became just the second American female to win the World Cup downhill title. Swiss Nadia Styger won for the first time in downhill. In the last race of the 2010 Olympic test events, Maria Riesch of Germany scored her career-first win in super combined and made a comeback into the fight for the World Cup overall trophy. In the overall standings, Vonn retained the lead ahead of Niki Hosp as the ladies next compete in Zwiesel (GER) in two technical events this weekend.

Sierra Nevada (SPA) played host to a Freestyle FIS World Cup ski cross race last Saturday. Both Tomas Kraus from the Czech Republic and Ophelie David of France took their fourth season victories in five events. Kraus has not finished lower than 5th in any World Cup competitions this season. The Freestyle FIS World Cup in ski cross will continue with the so-called Swiss Freestyle week which includes ski cross events in Meiringen-Hasliberg and Grindelwald followed by the season finals in Valmalenco.

The NOKIA Snowboard World Cup continued with three events in Gujo (JPN). In the season's sixth SBX, Canadian Maelle Ricker grew her lead in the World Cup standings with her victory ahead of Zoe Gillings of the United Kingdom who collected her third career podium, 3 « years after her first two. Like Gillings, the men's winner Graham Watanabe˙(USA)˙last stood on top of the podium in Chile in September 2004. After Jiayu Liu had taken the historical first Snowboard World Cup win for China in Korea, her teammate Zhifeng Sun repeated the feat in the ladies' half-pipe on Saturday. In the men's event, another first-time winner Kazuumi Fujita (JPN) celebrated victory. The concluding PGS event was one for the veterans: with Nicolien Sauerbreij (NED) and Jasey Jay Anderson (CAN) two experienced riders taking the honors. The NOKIA Snowboard World Cup will next move to North America, for events in Calgary and Lake Placid (USA).

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Alpine Junior Worlds under the Spanish sun

The 27th FIS Junior Alpine World Ski Championships, known as a stepping stone for the current and future World Cup and Olympic skiers from around the world, kicked off on Saturday in Formigal, Spain. The ladies' super-G was the first race on Saturday morning whilst the Championships were officially opened at a festive ceremony on Sunday night in near-by Sallent de Gallego. Some 400 young talents from almost 40 nations are competing, meeting each other and having a great time in the sunny Spanish Pyrenees this week.

In the opening ladies' super-G, the Junior Champion title went to Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany. She also collected the bronze medal in the downhill where gold was won by Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia ahead of Swiss talent, 16-year-old Lara Gut. In the men's downhill, Hagen Patscheider from Italy captured the gold. In the men's slalom, the big favorite Marcel Hirscher of Austria met the expectations by taking a clear victory.

A special bonus for all the newly-crowned Junior World Champions is the right to start in the FIS World Cup finals for Alpine Skiing to be held as part of the FIS Grand Finals in Valtellina (ITA) as of 12th March 2008. After four races, the medals table is led by Austria with three medals, one of each. Closely behind are Italy (1-1-0) and Germany (1-0-1) with two medals each. The championships will end on Friday, 29th February 2008. For more information visit www.formigal2008.com.

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Cross-Country Juniors and U-23 in progress in Malles (ITA)
Junior ladies' 10k podium
Photo: Aapo Laiho

The FIS Cross-Country Junior and U-23 World Ski Championships are currently underway in Malles, Val Venosta (ITA). Originally scheduled in Szczyrk (POL) for early February, the competitions were rescheduled and are being staged at the Cross-Country stadium of Schlinig, just a few kilometers from Malles and near the Swiss-Austrian border. So far, the championships have enjoyed beautiful, but very warm weather and plenty of snow.

The Championships kicked off on Saturday with the sprint competitions in the free technique in the junior category, followed by the same events for U-23. The interval races in the classical technique followed on Monday and Tuesday for U-20 and U-23, respectively, while on Wednesday it was time for the mass start races in the free technique for the juniors.

After 10 out of 14 competitions, the medals table is led by Norway that has collected a total of five medals (3-1-1) followed by Sweden (2-2-1) and France (1-4-0). So far, 10 nations have won medals. The program will continue with the mass start races for the U-23 category on Thursday, to conclude with the junior relays on Friday.

For more information, click here and for results, here.

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Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Junior Championships begin in Zakopane (POL)

After several changes, the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined got underway in Zakopane (POL) on Wednesday. The first competitions were the normal hill Ski Jumping for the men and the individual Gundersen event for Nordic Combined. Originally scheduled for Szczyrk (POL) in early February and then rescheduled for 21st -28th February, windy weather made its mark even in Zakopane today causing some delays.

The new junior World Champion in Ski Jumping is Andreas Wank of Germany who prevailed ahead of the first round leader Shohhei Tochimoto (JPN). In Nordic Combined, Alessandro Pittin from Italy established a strong lead in the Ski Jumping and kept that until the Cross-Country finish line with a 3.6 second margin ahead of Tomaz Druml of Austria. Pittin is the first-ever Italian FIS Junior World Champion in Nordic Combined.

The schedule will continue with the ladies' Ski Jumping and the Nordic Combined team event on Thursday, followed by the Ski Jumping team event on Friday. The Nordic Combined sprint will conclude the event on Saturday, 1st March. The ski jumping competitions are all held on the K85 hill, to the left of the H134 hill on which the World Cup competitions are staged. The cross-country competitions are not carried out where the Nordic Combined World Cup was held last weekend as the warm weather does not allow using these tracks anymore. Instead, the trails on a plateau in the mountains, some kilometers away from Zakopane, are being used.

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 Inside FIS 

IOC Coordination Commission reviews progress in Vancouver
Photo: The Vancouver Traveler

This week, FIS President Gian Franco Kasper is attending the meetings of the IOC Coordination Commission for the Vancouver 2010 Games in Vancouver, the host city. It is the first visit of the IOC Coordination Commission to Vancouver this year, presenting an opportunity for them to meet with the organizers and conduct an in-depth review on-site of the advances that the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) has made since their last visit. Specific focus of the meetings is on progress in planning in areas such as sport, marketing, media services and services to the National Olympic Committees. The group will also visit some of the sports venues that will be used in 2010 now that less than two years remains until the Games get underway. The Coordination Group is led by Rene Fasel, President of the International Ice Hockey Federation, and also includes Jos‚ Luis Marco and Pernilla Wiberg as additional representatives of the extended FIS family.

The IOC Coordination Commission's visit comes just after VANOC concluded its field-of-play testing during the first official Sport Event at the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup races on Whistler Mountain. With four days of clear weather conditions and successful course preparation, the alpine courses for the 2010 Olympic and Winter Games showed that the stage for exciting and challenging competitions is set for 2010. VANOC also became the first Olympic Organizing Committee to have its alpine venues completed and tested two years in advance of the Games. The areas tested included the mobilization of an 800-person volunteer workforce; roles and responsibilities of the chiefs of course and VANOC workforce; snowmaking; grooming; safety systems; technical and logistical components of race-day operations.

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 Member News 

Finnish Ski Association celebrates centenary

Yesterday, 26th February 2008 was the 100th anniversary of the Finnish Ski Association. During the last century, Finnish skiers have won more than 300 medals in the various title events, a third at the Olympic Winter Games and the rest at the FIS World Championships. The last two of those came at the FIS Ski Flying World Championships 2008 in Oberstdorf (GER) last weekend.

The main anniversary party and reception along with a concert will be held on Thursday, 28th February in the Sibelius Hall, in Lahti, on the eve of the Lahti Ski Games which begin on Friday. The so-called Festival of the Sports will be celebrated at the joint Finnish national championships at Ruka/Kuusamo at the end of March. Among the various other activities are many youth events as well as a special exhibition at the Lahti Ski Museum. Entitled Celebration of Winter Sports - Finnish Ski Association 100 years 1908-2008, the exhibition was opened in late January and can be visited until the end of the year.

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Ski racing loses a great friend
Paul Robbins
Photo: Jonathan Selkowitz

FIS sends its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Paul Robbins who passed away on Saturday while working on weekend ski stories in his home in Weathersfield, Vermont (USA). Internationally renowned ski journalist, Paul Robbins was 68 as he died of an apparent heart attack. A wordsmith and historian for the U.S. Ski Team for 30 years, Robbins was known by generations of skiers and friends of skiing. While he covered most FIS disciplines, he focused on the Nordic disciplines where he was considered to be perhaps "the" expert journalist on the sport in North America.

Paul Robbins's wit, humor and vast knowledge are legendary. He had been a primary writer for the U.S. Ski Team for over two decades. A familiar face in press rooms worldwide, Robbins worked at eight Olympic Winter Games -- every one since the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics where he served as press chief for luge. At subsequent Olympics he served as a press officer for the U.S. Ski Team, as well as an expert commentator for Nordic sports for CBS and NBC.

Those who want to share their memories of Paul or read the dozens of tributes to a wonderful person and one of the greatest friends of ski racing, visit here.

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17th Asian Junior Championship held in Lebanon

In spite of the dreadful recent events, Lebanon again proved that it is a country of peace that encourages prosperity and sports. Last weekend Lebanon served as the proud host - for the second time - of the Asian Alpine Ski Championships and the 17th Asian Junior Championships. Teams from India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Korea, Mongolia and Uzbekistan, along with a team from the host nation, participated to ensure the success of this event.

The opening ceremony was held on the terrace Intercontinental Hotel - Mzaar under the bright blue skies and against the silhouette of the Lebanese mountains in the presence of the Chief of the Lebanese Army's representative, FIS Council Member Dr. Lee, and many other political and diplomatic personalities.

On Saturday 23rd February, there was a giant slalom race for the J1 (1991-92) and J2 (1988-1990) categories while on Sunday a slalom took place. In the nations' ranking, the host team from Lebanon triumphed before Iran and Korea. All competitions were organized under the supervision of a FIS technical delegate and took place at a high level. The event attracted coverage by several local and international TV stations and also received considerable coverage in the written media.

The Lebanese Ski Association is working hard to provide the best training opportunities for its junior skiers including organizing many camps in Lebanon and elsewhere. The Asian Junior Championships represented a major milestone on the way towards the 2010 Olympic Winter Games that the young skiers have set as their main goal.

Contributed by Dina Nasr

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