News from the World of Skiing 

  Aksel Lund Svindal is back ... more

  Ladies speed teams testing 2009 championships slope in Val d'Isre ... more

  50th CISM championships in Hochfilzen ... more

  Entertainment pure at Russian Sprint Tour ... more


 Inside FIS 

  LG Electronics becomes title sponsor of FIS Snowboard World Cup ... more

  Val d'Isre leaping forward ... more

  Review time for FIS Tour de Ski ... more

  Congress Management Education Program Early Bird registration closing on 18th April ... more


 Member News 

  Longtime USSA Official Dr. Sosman dies ... more


 In Depth 

  Alpine Skiing Season Review ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

Aksel Lund Svindal is back
Cuche, Svindal, Defago
Photo: Patrick Lang

Four months after his crash at Beaver Creek (USA), Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal celebrated a spectacular comeback to racing at the Verbier "High Five" by Carlsberg fun race. The 2007 overall FIS Alpine World Cup champion beat the two-time downhill World Cup champion Didier Cuche (SUI) in the final of a dual slalom, the last in a series of five races which also included a one-run giant slalom, a short speed test and a ski cross competition. Another Swiss, Didier Defago, finished 3rd in the final combined standings of the 9th edition of the event in Valais.

"I'm really pleased - this has been a fun and exciting day for me. You can't compare it to a World Cup race, but for sure it's a good feeling to be so competitive and reach the final," Svindal said afterwards. "I would not be ready now to compete at Soelden, but this success shows that I'm on the way to soon be as competitive as I was prior my accident," he added.

Nearly 300 racers including snowboarders took part in the invitational event. They included Daniel Albrecht (SUI), a two-time World Cup winner last winter, speed specialist Marco Buechel (LIE) and reigning Olympic champion Antoine Deneriaz of France who gave up World Cup racing last December.

Another Swiss, Fraenzi Aufdenblatten, won the ladies' event starring other top athletes including the new overall World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn (USA), reigning giant slalom Olympic champion Julia Mancuso (USA) and her friend Chemmy Alcott (GBR). Spela Pretnar (SLO), the 2000 slalom World Cup champion who retired in 2003, came 2nd in the combined standings ahead of retired Swede Janette Hargin.

Mancuso and Alcott announced at Verbier that they plan to climb the Kilimanjaro next June to collect money for charity organization Right to Play that promotes sport for children around the world. "It will take us a week and it will not be easy but we are all ready and very motivated," explained Mancuso. "We aim to raise $20'0000 - we already have $7'000 so far and we put a lot of our stuff on sale to reach our goal," she added. Alcott presented a Wimbledon T-shirt autographed by five-time winner Roger Federer at an auction party for Right to Play which collected $40'000.

British singer James Blunt was one of the first to congratulate Svindal for his outstanding performance at H5. Blunt, who likes to ski in Verbier, was impressed by the athletic Norwegian whom he met for the first time.

Contributed by Patrick Lang

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Ladies speed teams testing 2009 championships slope in Val d'Isre
Ladies speed training
Photo: Benoit Launay
Rhone-Alpes on Solaise
Photo: OC Val d'Isere

To allow the ladies' teams to test the Rhne-Alpes slope on Solaise, the mountain where the ladies' FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2009 events will be held, Val d'Isre and the French Ski Federation (FFS) invited the world's top thirty FIS ranked skiers, plus one skier per nation registered with the FIS, to ski timed training runs last weekend and early this week. Along with the French ladies' team, teams from Italy, Germany, USA, Spain, Slovenia, Austria and Switzerland accepted the invitation.

The Rhne-Alpes slope has undergone considerable changes, especially in the lower section, since it was tested in competition during the 2007 French national championships. The World Cup events that were to serve as the official test races last December had to be cancelled due to lack of snow. With great snowfall later in the season, however, this week's speed training sessions were held in ideal conditions.

FIS Chief Race Director for the ladies, Atle Skaardal together with Jan Tischhauser, FIS Race Director, also inspected the slope on the weekend and expressed their satisfaction with the modified courses and work done by the team in Val d'Isere to enable the teams' training. One of the topics under review included the staging of the ladies' super combined slalom during the championships on Solaise rather than the men's Bellevarde slope. A possible course could be set at the foot of the Mur Firmin below the virage Russi which would allow for more flexibility for the men's downhill preparation on the Face on Bellevarde. A decision will be taken shortly.

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50th CISM championships in Hochfilzen
Winning French team


The 50th edition of the CISM (International Military Sports Council or Conseil International du Sport Militaire) Military World Skiing Championships took place in Hochfilzen (AUT) last week. The competition program included Alpine Skiing (giant slalom), Cross-Country Skiing and Biathlon races for the ladies and men, as well as a special patrol competition for each. In the Nations' Cup, France triumphed ahead of Germany and Italy after eight competitions. In Alpine Skiing, Romed Baumann (AUT) and Johanna Schnarf (ITA) took the titles. In Cross-Country, Vincent Vittoz (FRA) successfully defended his title from last year, ahead of two-time overall World Cup winner Tobias Angerer (GER). In the ladies' race, Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle (GER) beat last year's champion Karine Philippot (FRA). Both patrol gold medals went to Norway. For more information, please visit here.

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Entertainment pure at Russian Sprint Tour
Yekaterinburg sprint

The second edition of the Russian Sprint Tour took place from 1st to 5th April. The competition series with five different sprint stages was won by the international cross-country stars Justyna Kowalcyzk (POL) and Emil Joensson (SWE), who took second in the this year's sprint World Cup.

In total, 54 athletes from 14 nations competed in the exciting series. On the ladies side, Kowalczyk beat the home favorite Natalia Matveeva and Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) in the final standings. Emil Joensson decided the men's series for himself ahead of John Kristian Dahl (NOR) and Martin Koukal (CZE).

The Sprint Tour started in the Ural city of Yekaterinburg (two stages), continued in Yugorsk (West Siberia) and finished in the oil town of Khanty-Mansiysk (two stages). The creative series included five challenging sprint formats such as an elimination sprint, an extreme sprint (downhill), a super sprint (100m), a regular sprint and as a final, an uphill race with handicap start over the distance of 1300m (ladies) and 1400m (men).

The Sprint Tour also included an extensive side event program and its own orchestra as the musicians belonging to the military orchestra conducted by Alexander Pavlov entertained on-site.
For more information click here.

Contributed by Sandra Spitz

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 Inside FIS 

LG Electronics becomes title sponsor of FIS Snowboard World Cup

FIS and LG Electronics were very pleased to announce a new cooperation whereby LG Electronics will become the title sponsor of the FIS Snowboard World Cup as of the 2008-2009 competition season. LG Electronics will also be a major sponsor of the FIS Snowboard World Championships 2009 in Sungwoo, Gangwon Province, Korea.

"We warmly welcome LG Electronics onboard as the new title sponsor of the FIS Snowboard World Cup. As a dynamic, global series, the FIS Snowboard World Cup is happy to have found a similarly-minded, creative partner in LG Electronics," said FIS President Gian Franco Kasper. "We look forward to working with LG Electronics to write the next chapter in the development of Snowboarding which has grown to be one of the most loved winter sports, especially among the youth."

"LG is sponsoring the FIS Snowboard World Cup because it fits well with our image as a company that takes on new challenges to create electronics that are stylish, innovative and in tune with our customers' needs," said Sung-Hun Han, Vice President of Global Brand Marketing at LG Electronics. "Our participation in this sporting event will help us meet even more people who will enjoy our mobile phones, televisions and other high-tech products."

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Val d'Isre leaping forward

Photo: Benoit Launay

The second-to-last FIS Coordination Group meeting for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2009 in Val d'Isere (FRA) took place this Monday and Tuesday, 7th-8th April. Led by the newly appointed mayor Marc Bauer and Executive Director Jean Luc Fabre, the organizing committee presented a full day update on its progress with preparations, as just 10 months remains until the event. Following the various changes last summer and the cancellation of the ladies' test event in December due to lack of snow, the team has been making great progress especially since the highly successful men's World Cup events in February. However, certain areas will continue to be monitored carefully, notably the construction of a complex that will house for example the press and international broadcasting centers which began on Monday and is scheduled to be completed by end of November, and the accommodation planning. The final inspection for the event is scheduled for 9th-10th September, 2008.

Following the meeting, Sarah Lewis, FIS Secretary General commented: "The organizing committee is really working hard to stage memorable championships and has made real progress in solving some of the difficult logistical issues. This was the first coordination meeting where we could start to sense the enthusiasm of the citizens of Val d'Isre towards the championships led by the newly-elected mayor who has gone on record stating that the municipal council will ensure that the championships receive full political support."

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Review time for FIS Tour de Ski

More than 20 representatives of the organizing committees of Nove Mesto, Prague (both CZE), Asiago, Val di Fiemme (both ITA) and Oberstdorf (GER), the National Ski Associations and the Tour Board conducted a debrief of the second edition of the Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski performance by Craft Sportswear in Val di Fiemme (ITA) on Friday, 4th April.

Summaries of detailed feedback collected from different stakeholders such as the media, national teams and service industry were reviewed and discussed. Afterwards, working groups focused on the details and next steps for specific aspects of event organization including logistics, on-site experience and promotion, to make sure that the next edition of the Tour will also be a success. At the end, the group looked into the future to define the goals for the Tour in the next five to ten years.

"The Tour de Ski is already a good product but we have to develop further. The Tour must be more sophisticated than the World Cup to become its own brand with a high value. As a next step, we are working together with the National Ski Associations on joint marketing packages for this premium product," explained Jrg Capol, one of the Tour fathers and FIS Race Director Cross-Country.

Contributed by Sandra Spitz

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Congress Management Education Program Early Bird registration closing on 18th April

The FIS Academy has added to the world-class line up of speakers at this year's FIS Congress by securing Mr. Patrick Nally to present the session on Sports Marketing, Sponsorship and Brand Connection at the 2008 FIS Congress in Cape Town. Patrick is acknowledged as a pioneer of international sports marketing and sponsorship. Many international sports sponsorship initiatives follow the principles he devised including the FIFA World Cup and IOC TOP sponsorship arrangements.

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 here and send it today. Also, if you wish to arrange an appointment in Cape Town with FIS Academy representatives please call the FIS Academy on +44 161 275 6739 or email info@fis-academy.org.

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 Member News 

Longtime USSA Official Dr. Sosman dies

FIS sends its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Dr. J. Leland Sosman (Sos). Doc Sos passed away on 3rd April at the age of 87 at his Boston area home. Many in the FIS community have benefited from his lifelong work to serve as a FIS and USSA volunteer, as well as being the spirit of Waterville Valley's Black and Blue Trail Smashers club. Among other things, he served for decades on USSA and FIS Committees, including over 20 years as North American technical delegate commissioner. He also worked for many years for the FIS Congress as scrutinizer of the Congress minutes and some of his most important work came as the interpreter for translating FIS rules from German to English. Sos was an official at six Olympic Winter Games and countless World Championships. He was recognized with the highest honors in FIS sports, receiving the USSA Blegen Award in 1976 and being inducted to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1999.

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 In Depth 

Alpine Skiing Season Review
Atle Skaardal
Gnter Hujara
Photo: Agence Zoom

FIS Chief Race Directors for Alpine Skiing, Gnter Hujara for the men, and Atle Skaardal for the ladies, shared some of their observations of 2007/2008 Audi FIS Alpine World Cup season for the FIS Newsflash.

Atle Skaardal: On the whole, we had quite a good season on the ladies side. There was enough snow at our venues and at times, it felt like we had the good ol' winter back with tons of snow. From the sports perspective, it was an exciting season, too. It was not quite as tight as last year although the fight for the overall World Cup title remained close until the Finals. Mostly, it was the well-known names on the top without big surprises, with the exception of young Swiss Lara Gut making her first podium in St. Moritz.

In terms of the new equipment rules introduced for this season, I expect them to have a positive impact in the long run. It was a big change for the industry and it will take time for their effect to be fully seen. I think we are moving in the right direction but we need to realize that this is all part of a continued development process. In many cases, such as injuries, many variables are at play, not only the equipment. It is the same for safety. Overall, our measures are at a very high level and where there is room for improvement, continued work is being done. We have already made significant progress in the past 10-15 years; there is no comparison between what we had in 1990 and now. At the same time, we cannot even begin to think what types of safety standards we will have in another 10-15 years. This, too, is a step-by-step process.

Next season will be the first season that we will be implementing the schedule changes that we have been anticipating for two years now. The calendar will include fewer World Cup races for both men and ladies. This will indicate a new direction for us, with increased focus on quality rather than quantity.

This season's calendar included quite a few weekends with the ladies and men together. These joint events are good and we will probably have 3-4 of those in the future as well, but not more. This year, both of the returning organizers - Panorama (CAN) and Crans-Montana (SUI) - did a great job and next year we will again welcome two new organizers, La Molina (SPA) and Bansko (BUL). At the same time, we will also continue to support the further development of the ladies' classical sites, Cortina, St. Moritz, Val d'Isre and Zagreb, just to mention a few.

Gnter Hujara: On the sports side, this season saw, as expected, the established racers being challenged by many new names. We had many different and many new winners. We also saw several racers making great progress through the super combined to do well in the special events, such as Ivica Kostelic in the downhill.

From an organizational perspective, the season was very challenging. We had enough snow but the rapid weather changes also made it very difficult to work and this season really showed what extreme efforts are required to prepare the courses for the World Cup races. The positive news is that we set new records at several sites, such as Adelboden and Schladming for spectators, and at many others such as Wengen and Val Gardena for TV. The highlight of the season in the technical events was the first-ever men's slalom in Zagreb (CRO).

We also saw relatively many injuries, especially early in the season. Later, we may have seen fewer of them but unfortunately some very dramatic ones. We are constantly working on improving the safety of the racers. These efforts may not always be transparent to all since speed and safety are often the two sides of the same coin. Despite some spectacular crashes, we can say that the speed events - downhill and super-G - have been developing well. The current requirements in the World Cup are extremely high and the top racers do meet these requirements. Of course, the continued development of the World Cup also increases the demands for the other racing levels such as the Continental Cups and below.

Our future challenge will be to continue to offer great events and sports competitions at their best. There will be some good ideas coming out from the Alpine World Cup optimization project, especially to better promote the events and our sport. But there are probably some additional opportunities to further target and improve the management and marketing of the World Cup from a holistic perspective. Clearly we still can do it better.

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