|News from the World of Skiing|
|News from the World of Skiing|
|29 nations made the podium|
|Madoka Natsumi - first podium for Japan|
Photo: Nordic Focus
During the 2007/2008 World Cup season, a total of 306 FIS World Cup events were carried out around the world in the six FIS Olympic disciplines. A total of 29 nations, representing four continents, made the podium with 22 of them taking the top spot at least once. During the 2006/07 season, 27 nations appeared on the podium.
The overall podium ranking across the six disciplines is led by Austria which gathered a total of 169 podium finishes. Norway ranked 2nd (101) and USA 3rd (92). Canada, Switzerland and Finland claimed the places from 4th - 6th. Compared with the 2006/07 season, USA rose from 4th to 3rd and Canada from 6th to 4th. At the same time, Switzerland fell from 3rd to 5th and Finland from 5th to 6th. Only four nations - Austria, Finland, Norway and Switzerland - achieved podium finishes in all Olympic disciplines.
The most ladies' podiums were also won by Austria (58), followed by the USA (39). Norwegian and Canadian ladies' teams each collected 28 podium places while the Swiss managed 25 and the Finns 22.
On the men's side, Austria amassed 111 podium spots, while Norway gained 73. USA in third recorded 53 while Canada had 48 and Switzerland 45.
Some of the historic firsts this season included the first-ever podium in Cross-Country Skiing for Japan. Kazakhstan also scored its first ever podiums in Freestyle Skiing including a victory in mogul skiing, while Poland achieved its first World Cup win in men's Snowboarding.
For more details on podiums per nation of the Olympic disciplines, please click here.
|David Durand (FRA)|
Photo: Agency Zoom
The FIS Snowboard Junior World Championships concluded last Friday in Valmalenco (ITA). In the concluding event, the men's and ladies' snowboard cross, David Durand (FRA) led the strong French team, as three Frenchmen finished in the top six with Durand taking the title. The ladies' SBX gold also went to France as only 15-year-old Marion Perez claimed gold. In the men's and ladies' half-pipe on Thursday, both gold medals went to athletes with World Cup podium experience as Daniel Friberg of Switzerland and Sophie Rodriguez of France triumphed. The men's big air was in Nordic hands as Petja Piiroinen (FIN) took the gold ahead of Roger-S Kleivdal of Norway and Piiroinen's teammate Tero Manninen. The ladies' big air title went to Sarka Pancochova of the Czech Republic.
Altogether 13 nations won medals in the ten medals events in Valmalenco. As many as eight nations won gold since only France was able to win more than once (three times). As a result France won the medals table with a total of four medals, followed by Norway with five (1-3-1) and Finland with three (1-0-2). The young Austrian riders went home with the most medals, six, but no victories. Team France won the coveted Marc Hodler Trophy for the best national team ahead of the USA.
"We had superb Snowboard Junior Worlds in Valmalenco. The competition sites were in a great shape after the World Cup Finals and the team at Valmalenco was really motivated until the very last race. The support we received from the ski resort was extraordinary, especially given the short notice that they had to prepare for the event; not more than 2 weeks! Also, the competitions were held at a very high athletic level including many riders with substantial World Cup experience and success. Despite the rescheduling we had more than 300 young riders from 28 countries that all got to enjoy the beautiful weather and a great compact venue in Valtellina. Excellent job and great thanks to Valmalenco and FISI! " stated FIS referee Peter Krogoll.
|Marcel Hirscher (AUT)|
Photo: Agency Zoom
|Lara Gut (SUI)|
Photo: Agency Zoom
The European Cup season ended with finals in Les Orres / Clavieres / Montgenevre / Serre Chevalier (ITA/FRA) that took place simultaneously with the FIS Grand Finals 2008. Both the men's and ladies European Cup schedules this season included a large number of 40 or more races, including the indoor slalom events that kicked off the competitions in November.
On the men's side, still junior-aged Marcel Hirscher (19) of Austria took the overall title thanks to his strong performance in the technical events. Hirscher also won the slalom rankings and finished 7th in giant slalom. Italy's Stefan Thanei finished 2nd overall ahead of Florian Scheiber (AUT) who had his first season in the open category. Thanei and Scheiber both collected points in four events while Thanei also claimed the super combined title. The win in giant slalom went to Finland's Jukka Leino and the super-G title to Olivier Brand of Switzerland. In downhill, Rok Perko (SLO) won the standings.
The ladies' European Cup crown was taken by the 16-year-old Swiss promise, Lara Gut who won by more than 300 points over 20-year-old Monika Springl of Germany and the 2006 & 2007 EC champion Anna Fenninger (AUT), another junior skier. Gut also won the downhill and super-G rankings and finished 3rd in super combined and 4th in giant slalom. Irene Curtoni of Italy claimed the slalom title whilst Stefanie Koehle (AUT) was the best in giant slalom and Fenninger took the super combined.
"We had a great end of the season. Even if we had to cancel the downhill race in Les Orres due to the weather, we had excellent finals. Clavieres did a great job for the technical finals including a big party for all the teams, "commented Janez Flere, FIS Coordinator for the ladies' European Cup. "This year we again saw how that the athletes' skill level continues to improve and the top racers are getting younger and younger (now born in 1989-1991). Many of them also make points at their first appearance in the World Cup." He added: "The organizers are very motivated and several of them, such as Soldeu (AND) or La Molina (SPA), are candidates to host the World Cup. For the European Cup, we have reached the limit in terms of number of races and will have to settle on 30-35 events per season. This means that only the best organizers will be able to have annual events in the future."
Markus Waldner, FIS Coordinator for the men's EC tour added: "With more than 40 races on the schedule, it was a very tough season. Some scheduling challenges also led to less than ideal travel routes. In terms of the weather we had some challenges especially with the speed events. On average, the events were held in good conditions and organized at a high, at times, truly excellent level. It is obvious that more and more organizers really invest in staging high quality events also beyond the field of play. I was especially impressed by Bansko (BUL) and Jasna (SVK) where the organizers worked with great enthusiasm. And, at the speed finals in Les Orres (FRA) they even organized fireworks to mark the end of the season." Drawing some lessons for the future, Waldner noted: "We will have to reduce the number of races and plan a more optimal calendar for the athletes' sake. The general athletic level in the men's technical events is very high but in the speed events, especially downhill, we have to find ways to reduce the gap between the World Cup and European Cup races and also evaluate our rules given the relatively large number of injuries we continue to see."
First: Borge Sovik (NOR) made history by taking it all, the globes in all three events as well as the overall. No male athlete has ever achieved this before whilst three ladies have made it: Hege Johanson (NOR) in 1999, Pia Raita (FIN) in 2000 and Line Aas Sandnes (NOR) in 2004.
Before the last of the season's 18 races, Sovik had already won the Telemark event, Telemark Sprint and overall rankings. The Telemark Classic Cup was open, only 8 points separating Sovik, Daniel Halnes (NOR) and Mattias Wagenius (SWE). With the season victory #11, Sovik made it clear: "This season has been fantastic for me. It is very satisfactory for me to see the hard work throughout the year paying off," he smiled with all four crystal globes.
Second: Sigrid Rykhus (NOR) won three crystal trophies, after a convincing performance at Sugarbush. Two wins and twice in 3rd place at the Finals sealed it for her. Her toughest opponents, Katinka Knudsen (NOR) and Am‚lie Reymond (SUI) both took one win each, but came 105 and 179 points short in the overall rankings.
Third: Am‚lie Reymond (SUI) collected the ladies' fourth globe after a very hard fight in the Telemark Cup. The three ladies were all with a chance in the final fight for the honor. Reymond led by 20 points over Knudsen, with Rykhus not too far behind. In the end, five hundredths of a second decided the Cup winner as Rykhus won over Knudsen by this margin and so Knudsen came second, 5 points behind Reymond.
Fourth: Sugarbush as the FIS World Cup Finals host. Before the third race, the mountain was fully covered with ice from a freezing rainstorm. The groomers were called out to remove the breakable, one-centimeter crust in winds of 50-70 km/h. he staff, officials and athletes were brought to the race slope by a trailer behind a snow cat, which was the only way to stage the first run. The chair lifts were operating by the second run! The US Nationals and Canadian Alpine Nationals were both held in the same region at the same time, with race delays due to the storm. Chapeau and great thanks to the organizers at Sugarbush for an all-out effort!
Contributed by Trond Gunleiksrud
|Stefan Thurnbichler (AUT)|
Photo: Nordic Focus
It was a good season in the men's Continental Cup Ski Jumping. 16 competitions were held on three different continents. Despite some challenging winds and weather conditions and the rescheduling of one event to another location in the early season, only one event had to be completely cancelled due to a lack of snow (Liberec, CZE). The highlights of the season included the inaugural competition on the new Olympic hill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER) in December 2007 and the international premiere of the 2010 Olympic hills in the Whistler Olympic Park in March 2008. A total of 172 athletes from 20 nations scored CoC points while jumpers from nine nations made the podium during the winter season with 17 different athletes winning.
Stefan Thurnbichler of Austria won the overall rankings with 1157 points, 56 points ahead of teammate Bastian Kaltenboeck. Lars Byestoel of Norway finished 3rd. The Austrians were the dominating nation, placing eight men in the top ten in the final rankings. "The athletic performance in the men's Continental Cup for Ski Jumping is at a very high level. For some nations with large pools of very good jumpers such as Austria and Norway, the series plays an important role as qualification ground for the World Cup team. And the top CoC athletes showed time and again that they are able to jump into the top 10 even in the World Cup," commented Horst Tielmann, FIS Coordinator for the men's CoC series. "We benefit from having many of the same organizers as the World Cup tour but must also highlight the excellent work done by the organizing teams for example in Brotterode (GER) and Iron Mountain (USA) both of which delivered excellent events. Yet another special highlight was the live TV coverage from our three events in Sapporo (JPN)."
|Anders Aukland (NOR)|
Photo: Nordic Focus
The FIS Marathon Cup concluded with the Birkebeinerrennet (NOR) on 15th March. In the traditional 54 km race in the classical technique from Rena to Lillehammer, the victories went to Stanislav Rezac (CZE) and already 43-year-old Hilde G. Pedersen (NOR). Rezac delivered an exciting finale with Anders Aukland (NOR) on the finish stretch where he triumphed narrowly in the end. Both Rezac and Pedersen also set new course records.
In the FMC standings, after nine of the originally scheduled ten races, the winners were Tatyana Jambaeva (RUS) and Aukland. Jambaeva collected three victories and three second places in seven races to beat the Swedes Jenny Hansson and Elin Ek in the points ranking by 86 and 110 points, respectively. Aukland recorded two wins and three second places to take the standings by a margin of 59 points over Jerry Ahrlin (SWE) and 82 points over Marco Cattaneo (ITA).
Over 50'000˙skiers participated in the nine races making up the FIS Marathon Cup. Along with the anniversary celebrations at the 30th Transjurassienne and the 40th Engadin Ski Marathon, the warm temperatures in the middle of the season caused real trouble and so for example the 38th edition of the Tartu Marathon (EST) had to be cancelled. The last time Tartu Marathon was cancelled was in 2004. The Transjurassienne, too, was held on an alternative track between Lamoura and Pr‚manon rather than the traditional course from Lamoura to Mouthe while The K”nig Ludwig Lauf was carried out on a 21 km lap that was raced twice. The 35th edition of Marcialonga was also successfully staged despite the very spring like weather with temperatures up to +15C.
|Kaveli "H„k„" H„kkinen|
The FIS Speed Skiing World Cup will continue in Salla (FIN) this week. The first of the two World Cup races to be carried out in Eastern Finnish Lapland as of Wednesday 26th March will also be staged in honor of the 80th birthday of Kalevi `H„k„' H„kkinen, the long-time Finnish chairman of the FIS Speed Skiing Committee. The official name of the event is Hakkinen 80 Years Jubilee Race. H„kkinen is also the name-giver for the new „Trophy for the downhill class where the racers compete using Alpine downhill equipment on the Speed Skiing course.
The two Salla World Cup races will be the third stop on this year's World Cup calendar. The tour will then move to Saelen/Idre (SWE), before continuing in Breuil Cervinia (ITA). The season finals will be held in Verbier (SUI) from 14th-17th April 2008.
The FIS Doping Panel has on 25th March 2008 issued its decision in the case of the athlete Markus Hasler who represented the Cross-Country team of Liechtenstein and resided with the Austrian Cross-Country team during the XX Olympic Winter Games in Torino in February 2006.
Having considered the available evidence and testimony, the FIS Doping Panel decided to dismiss the charges raised against Markus Hasler since the Panel could not find any direct or circumstantial evidence to support the charges that Mr. Hasler was in possession of, or practiced a prohibited method, prior to or on the date of the search and seizure on February 18th, 2006 at the residence of the Austrian Cross-Country team in Torino.
|Gian Franco Kasper |
Photo: Nordic Focus
Talking with FIS Newsflash, FIS President Gian Franco Kasper appeared quite satisfied with the 2007/08 season. "After a very poor snow year last season 2006/07, most parts of the world have enjoyed relatively good snow conditions this season. Most importantly, the snow fell early, especially in Central Europe. This is always important for the ski industry for their Christmas sales and for the regions that live from ski tourism. The snow has also stayed put most everywhere until Easter. Based on early indications, the sales are up, even 30% higher than in the past several years, and there has also been an increase in the number of ski tourists. Of course, the fact that Easter this year was very early - it has not been as early since 1913 - will have some impact on the overall figures but in general, from the snow and tourism standpoints, it was a good season."
Commenting on the sports, President Kasper noted: "This was a season focused on the various FIS World Cup series. Following the disastrous previous season with many cancellations, we also had quite some making up to do especially on the junior levels and for children's races. I am pleased to say that the great majority of the events scheduled in the international FIS competition calendar could be held including the races for the younger generations. At the World Cup level, we had hardly any cancellations. In terms of title events, the main season highlight were the FIS Ski Flying World Championships in Oberstdorf (GER). They were again organized in an outstanding manner and had an excellent echo. For the juniors, three FIS Junior World Championships were held in Spain (Alpine), Poland and Italy (Nordic) and Italy (Snowboard)."
He was especially pleased about the many nations making podium appearances: "A total of 29 nations reached the podium across our six Olympic disciplines. In Snowboard we had 21 nations on the podium, in Alpine 15, in Cross-Country 19 and in Freestyle 18, just to mention a few. For FIS, this is very motivating because national champions are what drives the sport, inspiring the Member Associations, ski clubs and governments to get engaged."
"Of course we also have work to do. Next season will again be focused on the FIS World Championships. We held test events for the four main title events this season. We can be very positively attuned about the great progress made in Val d'IsŠre in preparation of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2009. The plans and work are well on their way both in Inawashiro (JPN) for Freestyle, and in Sungoo (KOR) for Snowboard. And we will be working closely with the organizers in Liberec (CZE) to prepare for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships there. We are optimistic about next year but also appreciate the challenges in front of us," President Kasper added. "In terms of the topic of safety, FIS remains vigilant. All new developments in techniques, materials or equipment will continue to be evaluated and tested. Any improvements that are both realistic and financially plausible will also be implemented. The fact remains that skiing is a sport with high speeds and there will always be some risk that we cannot remove. The recent developments in the athlete's skill levels, piste preparation, technique and equipment have altogether led to increased speeds. Controlling the speed remains a challenge for us."