News from the World of Skiing 

  FIS World Cup countdown ... more

  FIS Grand Finals 2008 underway ... more

  Big flights in store in Planica (SLO) ... more

  New course records in the 40th Engadiner ... more

  Speed Skiing World Cup continues ... more

  Four cities apply to host the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012 ... more

 Inside FIS 

  FIS Snowboard Junior World Championships 2008 rescheduled in Valmalenco ... more

  Nssli becomes official FIS Partner ... more

  The FIS Academy announces the perfect addition to FIS Congress 2008 ... more

 In Depth 

  Sport for development: Johann Olav Koss in Interview ... more

 News from the World of Skiing 

FIS World Cup countdown
Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT)
Photo: NordicFocus
Ronny Ackermann (GER)
Photo: NordicFocus

Valentina Shevchenko (UKR) and Anders Soedergren (SWE) claimed victory in the traditional Holmenkollen (NOR) races on Saturday. In wet and slow conditions, Shevchenko, as most others, benefited from the trial to change skis at half-way point and took the victory ahead of Tour de Ski winner Charlotte Kalla (SWE). Finishing 7th, Virpi Kuitunen (FIN) grew her World Cup points lead since runner-up Astrid Jacobsen (NOR) had to quit with cramps in both legs. Kuitunen leads by 210 points whilst 300 points can still be earned during the World Cup Grand Finals in St. Caterina (ITA).

For Soedergren, it was the second victory on Holmenkollen, this time with impressive 2.32 minutes. Remo Fischer of Switzerland surprised by taking third, his career-best finish. With Fischer's podium, a record of 19 nations have been on the podium during this Viessmann FIS World Cup season. Lukas Bauer (CZE), 2nd on `Kollen', will receive the World Cup winner's large crystal globe trophy in St. Caterina on Sunday. Bauer has also won the men's distance World Cup title.

With wins both in Lillehammer and Oslo (NOR), the Ski Flying world champion Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT) also won the Nordic Tournament ahead of Tom Hilde (NOR). Sunday's event was the last e.on Ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping˙competition on the old jumping hill in Oslo since the facility will be rebuilt for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2011. There will be no World Cup competitions on Holmenkollen next season but the new facilities will be tested during the official test events in 2010.

In the Nordic Combined Finale also in Oslo, Petter Tande from Norway won the season's final sprint event on Sunday overtaking Bill Demong (USA) in the overall World Cup rankings. On Saturday, Bernhard Gruber (AUT) triumphed in the season's last individual Gundersen competition.

Ronny Ackermann (GER) had already confirmed his victory in the overall Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined rankings in Lahti. In the end, Ackermann collected 1174 points, 196 points more than Tande while Demong finished third. Ackermann also won the Sprint World Cup trophy four points ahead of the Frenchman Jason Lamy Chappuis (504 points).

The final Audi FIS Alpine World Cup events before the FIS Grand Finals 2008 took place in Crans-Montana (SUI) for the ladies and Kranska Gora (SLO) for the men. With Crans-Montana returning to the calendar after several years, Lindsey Vonn won yet another downhill this season. In Sunday's super combined, Anja Paerson celebrated her first combined win. She has now won in all five alpine events, and joins Pernilla Wiberg, Petra Kronberger and Janica Kostelic as the only ladies to accomplish the feat. Germany's Maria Riesch collected the SC globe, her career's first.

In the men's GS, American Ted Ligety won the second World Cup race of his career Saturday, and moved into the lead of the GS standings. In the slalom, Manfred Moelgg˙of Italy˙finally claimed his career's first win as the slalom rankings promise an exciting finale in Bormio.


Steve Omischl and Jacqui Cooper
Photo: Mike Ridewood
Nicolien Sauerbreij (NED)

The Freestyle FIS World Cup aerials season wrapped up on Friday in Davos (SUI). Steve Omischl (CAN) had already secured his third overall World Cup aerials title beforehand. Omischl won six of the nine World Cups, including the final, while missing the podium only once. In the ladies' aerials final, victory went to Evelyne Leu of Switzerland before an enthused home audience. Jacqui Cooper of Australia had clinched the overall women's title a few events before end of the season.

During a busy Freestyle week, two moguls events were held in Are (SWE). In the moguls and dual moguls events, Dale Begg-Smith of Australia collected a win and a second place to clinch his third consecutive FIS World Cup moguls title. In the ladies' events, Aiko Uemura of Japan won her third and fourth straight World Cups. With that she also confirmed the overall ladies' moguls title with one event remaining

The Swiss ski cross week, taking place in Grindelwald and Meiringen-Hasliberg, also saw back-to-back wins by Lars Lewen (SWE) whilst Tomas Kraus (CZE) confirmed his third World Cup title. For Ophelie David of France, the ski cross globe is already her fifth consecutive one. Behind David, Sasa Faric (SLO) rose to 2nd in the rankings thanks to two podium finishes in Switzerland.

In the Stoneham (CAN) SBX, Lindsey Jacobellis (USA) won, reducing the gap to the yellow jersey holder Maelle Ricker (CAN) to only 150 points. On the men's side, Pierre Vaultier led a total podium sweep for the French team for the first time in five years. In the second-to-last parallel race in the 2007/2008 NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup, Nicolien Sauerbreij (NED) crowned herself as queen of PGS/PS. It has been 13 years since a Dutch athlete collected a World Cup title. Benjamin Karl (AUT) took over the men's World Cup lead from Mathieu Bozzetto (FRA) by taking the victory in Stoneham.

In the half-pipe contests, Manuela Laura Pesko (SUI) and Gregory Bretz (USA) secured victory. The Swiss rider now has the historical chance to win her third consecutive World Cup title at the Grand Finals in Valmalenco, Italy. On the men's side, Bretz celebrated his first World Cup victory.


FIS Grand Finals 2008 underway
Lindsey Vonn (USA)
Photo: Agence Zoom

The third edition of the FIS Grand Finals is taking place this week in the Valtellina region in Italy. A total of 28 competitions have been scheduled to be staged as of Wednesday, 12th March 2008 at three different venues: Bormio (Alpine Skiing), Santa Caterina (Cross-Country Skiing) and Valmalenco (Freestyle and Snowboard). Altogether, more than 700 athletes are competing for prize money worth of CHF 1.4 million (approximately _900'000). In Alpine Skiing, 70 men and 65 ladies from 17 countries have been entered. 94 men and 75 ladies from a total of 23 countries will compete in Cross-Country Skiing. In Valmalenco, 429 athletes from more than 20 countries have been accredited to compete in nine different events including six competitions in three events for Freestyle and seven competitions in four events for Snowboard.

Due to mild weather conditions combined with snowfall and rain, both the ladies and men's downhill World Cup final competitions had to be cancelled. Therefore the downhill titles were taken by Lindsey Vonn (USA), the season's unquestionable downhill queen who confirmed her globe several weeks ago, and by Didier Cuche (SUI). For Cuche, it was the second consecutive title which came by a margin of only 5 points over Bode Miller (USA) who missed the chance in the final duel due to the cancellation.

The FIS World Cup Grand Finals 2008 truly got underway on Wednesday afternoon with the Freestyle half-pipe competitions in Valmalenco. Jennifer Hudak (USA) took her maiden World Cup victory as Sarah Burke (CAN) claimed the trophy. In the men's competition, Micheal Riddle (CAN) also won his first World Cup while teammate Matthew Heyward collected the World Cup title.

On Saturday evening, 15th March, 19 of the coveted FIS World Cup crystal globes along with silver and bronze medals will be presented to the season's best athletes at the official FIS World Cup Award Ceremony in Bormio. To find out more details on the famous World Cup globes, click here.


Big flights in store in Planica (SLO)
Photo: OC Planica

The e.on Ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping final will again be held with Ski Flying events in Planica (SLO). The competitions will begin with the first individual competition on Friday, a team event on Saturday and the second and season's final competition on Sunday. Planica, the host of the 2010 FIS Ski Flying World Championships, is where the current world distance record was set by Norwegian Bjoern Einar Romoeren who flew 239 m. Exciting three days are sure to await us as the world's best ski jumpers take on the world's largest Ski Flying hill for the season's finale.

In the overall World Cup rankings, Thomas Morgenstern (AUT) has already clinched the World Cup title, and his teammate, the Ski Flying World Champion and Nordic Tournament winner Gregor Schlierenzauer is all but certain to finish 2nd. At the same time, Janne Ahonen (FIN) and Tom Hilde (NOR), currently 14 points apart, are still fighting for 3rd place in the final rankings. The Austrian team also stands as the supreme winner of the Nations' Cup rankings this season.


Speed Skiing World Cup continues
Photo: Sun Peaks Resort

The FIS Speed Skiing World Cup continued at Sun Peaks (CAN) last weekend. Two World Cup competitions were held in perfect conditions on the infamous Headwalls race track that hosted the so-called Velocity Challenge races for the 19th time. In the men's races the Italians had the leading edge. Brothers Origone were the top racers with younger brother Ivan, who won his first World Cup podium at Sun Peaks last year, taking two victories. The older Origone brother Simone, world record holder for speed skiing, took 2nd in the first race while Switzerland's Philippe May collected 2nd in the second one.

The ladies were also showing they had what it took to be fast. The Scandinavians turned to be the fastest with Sanna Tidstrand of Sweden and Liss-Anne Pettersen of Norway coming in first, respectively. Elena Banfo of Italy and Karine Dubouchet-Revoc of France collected the other podium places. The World Cup will continue in Salla (FIN) with the Kalevi Hakkinen jubilee races from 26th March 2008.


New course records in the 40th Engadiner
Photo: NordicFocus
Engadiner 2008 winners

The 40th Engadin Ski Marathon saw a very strong field of elite skiers, including many World Cup champions and the best of the FIS Marathon Cup (FMC) racers.˙In a breathtaking finish sprint, Tor Arne Hetland (NOR) beat last year's winner Dario Cologna (SUI). It was Hetland's second victory in the Engadiner, this time with a new course record. Katrin Zeller (GER) won the ladies race followed by Elin Ek (SWE), also in a new record time.

More than 11'000 racers participated in the anniversary edition of the race from Maloja to S-chanf (including the editor of the FIS Newsflash!). They enjoyed ideal conditions with tail wind. Parallel to the main race, the first half-marathon also took place. This was a great success, too, partially because young skiers born in 1992 and 1993 were allowed to race as well.

Before the final FMC race - the Birkebeinerrennet in Norway on Sunday - the overall rankings are still open. For the first time in the history of the series, three men and ladies each still have a chance to claim the title. Anders Auckland (NOR) leads the men's rankings with 414 points ahead of Jerry Ahrlin (SWE) and Marco Cattaneo (374 respectively 371 points). In the ladies' standings, Tatiana Jambaeva (RUS) leads with 520 points with Swedes Jenny Hansson and Elin Ek trailing her by 56 respectively 90 points.


Four cities apply to host the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced that four cities have applied to host the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012. The Candidate Cities, in alphabetical order, are: Harbin (CHN), Innsbruck (AUT), Kuopio (FIN), and Lillehammer (NOR).

The four Candidate Cities now have until 19th June to prepare and submit their Candidature Files by replying to the IOC questionnaire. A panel of Olympic Movement experts will shortlist the Candidate Cities for further assessment by an IOC Evaluation Commission. The IOC members will then elect by postal vote among the candidates recommended by the IOC Executive Board. The host city for the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games will be announced in December 2008.


 Inside FIS 

FIS Snowboard Junior World Championships 2008 rescheduled in Valmalenco

The FIS Snowboard Junior World Championships 2008 planned in Khanty-Mansisk (RUS) at the end of March had to be cancelled due to force majeure relating to the construction of the facilities. Thanks to the great flexibility and support by the Italian Winter Sports Federation (FISI) and the Organizing Committee in Valmalenco (ITA), the event could be rescheduled in Valmalenco (ITA) from 16th -23rd March, 2008. Please click here for the detailed competition program.


Nssli becomes official FIS Partner

FIS and Nssli, a leading supplier of temporary infrastructures, have announced a new cooperation whereby Nssli will become an official "FIS Partner." As part of the partnership, Nssli will make available its long-term experience and technical know-how in planning and implementing temporary infrastructures to FIS event organizers. In particular, Nssli will work to promote highest quality solutions tailored to the organizers' needs, such as grandstands, platforms, stages and podiums. Special focus will be paid to designing creative solutions incorporating the latest innovations.

"FIS is paying increasing attention to the quality of organization around the field of play. We are proud to partner with Nssli that is well-known for its technical expertise and substantial experience as existing supplier of several FIS World Cup organizers, as well as the 2003 and 2005 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships and several editions of the Olympic Winter Games," said FIS President Gian Franco Kasper. "We look forward to working with Nssli to benefit our organizers in their efforts to continuously improve the on-site experience for all event participants."


The FIS Academy announces the perfect addition to FIS Congress 2008

REGISTER NOW! Early Bird Registration for 2008 FIS Congress Management Education Program

The FIS Academy is pleased to announce that it has secured the world renowned business management academic John Westwood to open the Management Education Program at the 2008 FIS Congress in Cape Town (RSA).

The FIS Academy will be conducting two educational modules at the FIS Congress:

Monday 26th May, 2008 - Leadership and Change Management
Wednesday 28th May, 2008 - Sports Marketing, Sponsorship and Brand Connection

Register prior to the 18th April and get 20%+ off the program fee. Download your Registration Form and send it today.

Representatives from the FIS Academy will be making their way to Cape Town for the FIS Congress in order to update delegates on the work of the FIS Academy. If you wish to arrange an appointment in Cape Town with FIS Academy representatives or you wish to take advantage of the early bird special and register for the Management Education Program, please call the FIS Academy on +44 (0) 161 275 6739, email or download the Registration Form from the FIS website.


 In Depth 

Sport for development: Johann Olav Koss in Interview
Johann Olav Koss
Photo: Right To Play

On the occasion of the Engadin Ski Marathon, the FIS Newsflash had a chance to speak with Johann Olav Koss, four-time Olympic gold medalist and President & CEO of Right To Play (RTP), an international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play programs to foster the healthy development of children. FIS and Right To Play have cooperated since 2005 to promote sport for development especially within the skiing world.

FIS Newsflash: You just completed your second FIS Marathon Cup race this season - how do you feel?

Johann Olav Koss: It was great. I did the Marcialonga in January and now the Engadiner. For me as a speed skater, the free technique is easier but the experience has been fantastic both times. These popular races are very enjoyable. The scenery is just breath-taking and they are great motivators for staying in shape. I am sure I will do another race next season!

FN: FIS and RTP have been partners since 2005. The cooperation has taken the form of partnerships with several World Cup events, Worldloppet races and FIS World Championships, both through promotional presence and fund-raising activities. How important is this partnership for RTP?

JOK: It is very important. FIS was the first international federation to sign such an agreement with RTP. The partnerships provides us with a great channel to promote the work we do, and to reach athletes, both TV and on-site spectators and event participants. These groups are major targets for us because they are people who enjoy sport themselves and understand its power for personal development.

FN: How exactly does RTP work with skiing?

JOK: With the various skiing events we have a two-fold strategy. Our partner events allow us to promote RTP on-site and in their pre-event communications, to make our work and mission better known. At the same time we have been able to use them for fund-raising. At the World Cup and World Ski Championships, we distribute VIP packages, and at Worldloppet races, starting places.

The Athlete Ambassadors are another important element of the partnership. They play a crucial role in representing us and reaching out to our various target audiences. Some of them from the world of skiing include Anja Paerson, Beckie Scott, Julia Mancuso and Bruno Kernen, just to mention a few.

Finally, we are in the process of establishing specific partnerships with individual National Ski Associations to develop more structured national programs related to skiing. We hope to announce the first ones shortly.

FN: You yourself started your involvement with a predecessor of RTP, Olympic Aid that is run by the IOC, as an Athlete Ambassador, before setting up RTP as an independent organization. What was it about that experience that led you down this road?

JOK: When I served as Athlete Ambassador at the time of the Lillehammer Olympic Games, I saw the power of sport for personal and community development, particularly after a war. It made a very strong impression on me. I felt very privileged growing up in Norway and wanted to find a way to give these people, especially children, some hope and a chance to develop as persons. That is what drove me to get more involved in this sector. In 2001 I was able to set up RTP as an organization separate from Olympic Aid and with its own projects that the organization is responsible for implementing.

FN: How do you use the Athlete Ambassadors (AA) for RTP?

JOK: We have a detailed selection process for the Ambassadors. It is important for us that these individuals are aligned to the eight values we represent and can reinforce those. They serve as role models and as faces of our organization. For the AAs themselves, RTP is a way to help and give something back to the sports that have given them so much. Some of them have traveled to see the impact of our programs on-site and come back with lasting impressions. Others get involved with auctions, sponsors or give presentations at schools or other events. The feedback from them is always very positive. They work well together and we feel that as a group, their work has even larger impact.

FN: Until now, the funds raised from skiing activities are used to finance a project in a refugee camp in Tanzania. What are your plans for the future?

JOK: For RTP as organization, we have set a very clear goal: by 2012, we want to have 1 million children participating in RTP organized activities every week. We are half-way there today. In terms of skiing related activities, our current focus is on the world's poorest countries. Of course there are very poor countries where children's play activities could involve play in the snow. We are in the process of evaluating possibilities to channel some funds raised in partnership with FIS to such RTP projects.