|News from the World of Skiing|
|News from the World of Skiing|
|Krasnaya Polyana |
Photo: Sochi 2014
FIS President Gian Franco Kasper visited Sochi this week, as part of the IOC Coordination Commission for Sochi 2014 Games. It was the first inspection in the Black Sea resort by the IOC team overseeing the Games. During two days, the 13-member commission led by IOC member Jean-Claude Killy assessed all functional areas of the preparations for Russia's first ever Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, as presented by Sochi 2014 president Dmitry Chernyshenko and Russian sports minister Vyacheslav Fetisov together with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov, deputy prime minister Alexander Zhukov, Viktor Kolodyazhny, the newly appointed head of Olympstroy, the state corporation overseeing Olympic construction, and Leonid Tyagachev, president of the Russian Olympic Committee and FIS Council Member, among others.
The IOC delegation also toured the mountain and coastal clusters of proposed Olympic venues, including visiting the Psekhako Ridge, venue for the Cross-Country Skiing and Nordic Combined events, and the alpine ski resort Roza Khutor in the Krasnaya Polyana mountains. A total of 13 competition venues will be built for the Sochi Olympics - the largest number in the history of the Winter Olympics. 27 construction projects are scheduled to begin this year, with the remainder starting in 2009. The progress of Sochi's transport infrastructure projects as well as the organizing committee's sponsorship and environmental initiatives were also assessed. The 2014 Games have been cited as "probably the most challenging Olympics ever" due to the massive construction job ahead.
|Simone Origone (ITA)|
|Sanna Tidstrand (SWE)|
The finals of the FIS Speed Skiing World Cup 2007/08 season were held last week in Verbier (SUI). The Speed Skiing week on Mont Fort was initially also planned to include the competitions rescheduled from Cervinia (ITA). Due to inclement weather these had to be cancelled early in the week whilst the finals proper lucked out with the weather god and could be staged as planned from 14th-17th April.
In the ladies' competition, Sanna Tidstrand (SWE), third in last season's overall rankings, again held off Karine Debuchet (FRA) for the race victory as well as for the title of the ladies' World Cup champion. Elena Banfo (ITA) finished third in the season rankings. Ladies record five-time champion Tracie Max Sachs (USA) sat out the entire season to recuperate from various injuries. Linda Baginski of Sweden posted her season's best finish by taking 3rd in the finals.
The victory in the men's final, went to Simone Origone (ITA), three time World Cup champion who prevailed for the first time this season, whilst brother Ivan prevailed in the season's rankings for the first time, despite finishing 8th in Verbier. Philippe May of Switzerland finished third overall while Jukka Viitasaari (FIN) captured his best result of the season by finishing 2nd ahead of May. Altogether 63 men raced in the finals.
|Dominic Harington (GBR) won the EC half-pipe title|
Photo: Stewart Walsh
As in Alpine and Cross-Country Skiing, the competition structure of FIS Snowboarding consists of three steps - FIS level competitions, Continental Cups and the World Cup. This structure is based on the goal of developing young talents and allowing them to gather experience before they progress onto the next, more challenging level.
The Continental Cup as the intermediate stage plays a major role in this system. During the past seasons, competitions at this level were held on three continents: North America (NorAm), South America (SAC) and Europe (EC). Currently, there are plans to implement the same series in Asia (Far East Cup) and in Australia and New Zealand (ANC). Both are seeking approval at the upcoming FIS Congress 2008 in Cape Town (RSA) in May.
But what is it which makes the Continental Cups so important in Snowboarding and other disciplines? The basic idea is having the best riders of the world competing in the World Cup and therefore, the national quotas are limited. In the Continental Cup up-and-coming talents as well as older riders get a chance to (re)prove their abilities and qualify for the highest level. This guarantees only a small gap between the two levels so that the next step for emerging talents is not too big. No wonder that the winners of each event in each Continental Cup series are awarded with a personal spot for the World Cup. The level of riding, however, is also high as many World Cup snowboarders compete in Continental Cups whenever their competition schedule allows it.
In total, 43 events were organized in the European Cup, 18 in the North American Cup and 3 in the South American Cup this season. To underline the importance of these series, the following numbers demonstrate this: In the 07/08 European Cup, 75 ladies from 23 nations and 200 men from 27 nations rode in the snowboard cross races. 44 ladies from 12 nations and 141 men from 18 nations entered in the half-pipe contests whilst 126 ladies from 23 nations and 221 men from 25 nations duelled in the parallel events.
The Continental Cup is not only a good test for the athletes but for the organizers as well. Over the past years, the interest in hosting a European Cup, for example, has increased rapidly giving FIS a chance to improve the standard of each competition and venue. Besides providing continuity for the team captains concerning items such as accommodation prices and travelling routes, all organizing committees have to do a good job in order to stay within the circle of European Cup hosts or potentially being named as one of the World Cup venues. Only those who do a great job at Continental Cup level will be able to move up - similar to the riders.
Contributed by Oliver Kraus
|The revised new Holmenkollen|
The FIS Coordination Group Meeting for the 2011 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Oslo (NOR) took place in warm spring sunshine on Monday, 22nd April. President of the supervisory board and the Norwegian Ski Association, Sverre Seeberg, spoke positively about the ongoing work in preparation for the championships. Organizing committee president Svein Aaser and the administrative team that now includes sne Havnelid, chief executive, Adelheid Sther, head of administration, Stein Opsal, finance director and Egil Storaas, marketing director, presented the mission, goals and strategies they are developing.
Oslo City Council's representatives, Anne Farset , Steinar Helgesen, Hagbarth Vogt Lauritzen and Lasse Johannsen, took center stage presenting the final "new Holmenkollen" that has been approved by the municipal authorities. Dismantling of the existing jumping hill will commence in early September 2008 with the completion of all new venue constructions by January 2010, immediately before the main championship test events. Just days after Oslo has officially opened its spectacular new opera house, there is great desire in the city and the sporting community for its landmark facility at Holmenkollen to achieve similar acclaim.
NRK, the national broadcaster, was represented by head of sport Oyvind Lund and project manager Odd Kaldefoss who showed the detailed planning already undertaken as well as their involvement in all areas of the construction projects.
"The organizing committee has clearly taken significant steps over the last six months. But we are all aware that the focus from all parties is on the construction of Holmenkollen and after various discussions and reports over the past 18 months, it was crucial to receive this information from the responsible persons in Oslo City Council that the construction is progressing with a clearly defined timetable," noted FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis.
|Janne Ahonen, 5-time Tournament winner|
The annual debrief on the Four-Hills-Tournament for Ski Jumping took place last Friday at Munich Airport. The 25 participants included members of the four organizing committees in Oberstdorf, Garmisch-Partenkirchen (both GER), Innsbruck and Bischofshofen (AUT) led by Tournament President Pe Horle, Walter Hofer and Christian Knauth from FIS, Thomas Pfueller from the German Ski Association and Ernst Vettori from the Austrian Ski Association along with representatives of German and Austrian TV stations ZDF and ORF as well as marketing agency IMG.
The debrief concentrated on analyzing the success of the 56th edition of the traditional tournament which was highlighted by the excellent TV figures especially in Germany and Austria. According to the market research firm IFM, the tournament reached an average of 5.79 million daily TV viewers in Germany alone, which is a million more per day than the year before (market ratio of 28.5% vs 26.2%). Looking forward, the participants also discussed the starting times and preparations for the 57th Tournament around New Year's time in 2008.
|Cape Town (RSA)|
Just a month now remains until some 1000 members of the extended FIS Family make their way to Cape Town (RSA) for the 46th International Ski Congress, the first-ever to be held in Africa. The 2008 FIS Congress will take place from 25th May until 30th May at The Westin Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays. Some meetings will also be held in the neighboring hotel, Southern Sun The Cullinan.
The Congress Week will kick off with the Welcome Cocktail on Sunday evening, 25th May. The meetings of the FIS Council and the FIS Committees will be held from Monday 26th May to Wednesday 28th May. The exhibition of the Candidates for the FIS World Championships 2012 and 2013 will be officially opened at 10 am on Monday, and will remain until Wednesday evening at 18:30. Congress participants can also benefit from two educational seminars staged by the FIS Academy, one on leadership and change management scheduled for Monday and the other on Sports Marketing, Sponsorship & Brand Connection, set for Wednesday.
The FIS Council will elect the organizers of the 2012/13 Championships on Thursday afternoon, 29th May. The announcement of the elected organizers will be made at a cocktail reception that evening. Thursday is also the day of the traditional Congress excursion, which includes lunch and tasting at the well-known Stellenbosch vineyards.
The Congress - the FIS General Assembly - will take place on Friday, 30th May starting at 8:00 in the Cape Town International Convention Center. It will review the accounts of the 2006-2008 period and elect the members of the FIS Council for the upcoming two years, along with considering initiatives related to new media rights, recruitment to skiing and winter sports, and the environment, to mention just a few of the important topics. For more information on the FIS Congress, visit here.
Following on the first FIS Junior Race Camp held in India in February 2007, the skiing development project supported by the FIS Solidarity program continued this winter with a second Camp there. In early January, Curdin Malr, FIS nominated Swiss ski expert, traveled to Gulmarg, 65 km west of Srinagar, the capital of Kaschmir that lies at the altitude of 2700m near the Indian-Pakistani border, to train Indian Alpine and Cross-Country skiers for a period of three weeks. The local ski area has been built on the slopes of Apharwat and reaches up to the altitude of 4300m (summit at 4390m) The participants included athletes from the Indian army ski team as well as the national team and local athletes from the Jammu and Kaschmir regions. The Cross-Country athletes also included members of the Indian Tibet border police and two ladies. Thanks to great support by the Apharwat ski resort, and despite the extraordinary amount of snow that falls in the area at that time of the year, the Race Camp was held consisting of creative but effective training units typically divided into Alpine Skiing sessions in the mornings and Cross-Country in the afternoons. The main competitive goal for the participating athletes this season were the National Games of India in Cross-Country and Alpine Skiing organized by the Winter Games Federation of India in Gulmarg in mid-February as well as FIS Cross-Country races held there in early March.
"The people of Kaschmir are very determined to continue to develop Gulmarg into an internationally recognized center of skiing. The responsible managers at the resort were as interested in the latest news and developments in the area of ski technique as in the questions relating to ski resort infrastructure," commented Malr. "Special thanks belong to the Winter Games Federation of India for its cooperation with the camp's organization, and especially Mr. Gupta and his team, in particular Anchok Sharma from the Indian Olympic Association for assistance on site."
|Aerial view of Val d'Isere|
In conjunction with the Audi men's FIS Alpine World Cup races that also served as the official test events for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2009 in Val d'Isre (FRA) in early February, the FIS World Cup title sponsor Audi through its French subsidiary organized an auction to benefit UNICEF, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. The auction was presided by French artist Laetitia Haliday and included famous visitors including ski legends Patrick Ortlieb, Franck Piccard, Gnther Mader (the three medallists of the of the Olympic downhill in 1992), Steve Locher, Kjetil Andr Aamodt, Marc Girardelli and Bernhard Russi. The items offered for auction included an Audi A3, footballer Bixente Lizarazu's surfboards, Kjetil Andr Aamodt's˙skis, David Haliday's helmet and an authentic 1992 Olympic Games bib signed by all the legendary skiers in attendance. All in all, the auction collected _67'000 which UNICEF plans to invest to continue its activities focused on the areas of health, nutrition, education and social protection to benefit children in 158 countries.
Walter Hofer and Uli Wehling, the FIS Race Directors for Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined, shared some of their thoughts on the 2007/2008 season for the e.on Ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping and Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined, respectively.
Walter Hofer: For Ski Jumping, the entire 2007/08 season was characterized by challenging weather conditions. At the same time, we can draw a positive balance since in the end only one competition had to be cancelled all season. In all other cases, we found some kind of a solution, such as a new time or place or both.
Ski Jumping was the only FIS discipline that staged a title event this year. The FIS Ski Flying World Championships 2008 in Oberstdorf (GER) were excellent. For the first time we awarded the Ski Flying titles under floodlights at night and are very pleased about the excellent TV images that were delivered.
Among the other season highlights, the 56th edition of the Four-Hills-Tournament was a special occasion for two reasons: for the first time in the tournament's history, we had to reschedule one of the competitions to another venue (Innsbruck to Bischofshofen). And for the first time, an athlete, Janne Ahonen (FIN), won this prestigious tournament for the fifth time in his career.
The winner of the World Cup itself was clear very early in the season, already after the competitions in Willingen (GER) in mid February. Thomas Morgenstern (AUT) was especially dominating during the early part of the season. Regardless that the title had been sealed, the initial reports from the TV stations show that the Ski Jumping World Cup attracted an excellent number of viewers in all the core countries.
In terms of facilities, we did have two construction sites on the calendar. In Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER), the hill was not fully completed for the New Year's competition. This did not impact the sports organization however. In Oslo, this year's event really showed that we have reached the capacity limits of the old facility and a new hill has become necessary.
This was also the first season that we conducted a structured analysis of all the World Cup venues. The evaluation included organization, facility, event factors and public relations. The results were of great help for us in the calendar planning for the 2008/09 season. On this occasion, I would like to extend my congratulations to Planica (SLO) which has made particularly great progress in its organization in several areas, including logistics, the hill lay-out and competition management.
Looking forward, the biggest change for next season will be that for the first time we will stage four Ski Flying events next season, leading to the awarding of a small crystal globe for this event, as proposed by the Sub-Committee for Calendar Planning and to be approved by the FIS Council. In the meantime, we have also received a written request from the German Ski Association for the so-called Three-Hills-Tournament with Willingen, Klingenthal and Oberstdorf. The final calendar will be discussed by the Ski Jumping Committee and approved by the FIS Council in Cape Town (RSA) in May. For equipment, we do not foresee any changes since the season analysis did not reveal any need for amendments.
Uli Wehling: In the end, the 2007/08 season featured the second highest number of completed competitions ever. With 20 individual events, only the 2005/06 season has seen more competitions, a total of 21. Especially during the first two periods we were well in plan, but then unfortunately, during the third period we lost four competitions due to weather and organizational problems. Some other events could only be held thanks to the great flexibility and cooperation amongst the competition management, organizer and TV. In three cases, we ended up changing the competition format and in another two cases, the schedule was altered. The sprint competitions turned out to be easier to carry out since only one jump is required. For us, a fair even if modified competition is better than a cancelled one, and that is what we sought to deliver especially for the sake of the athletes and organizers.
On a positive note, from a sports perspective we saw quite a broad field on top this season. Eight nations made it to the top 6 while 17 different athletes from 7 nations appeared on the podium. Notably, we also saw the first-ever Italian junior world champion in Nordic Combined.
In terms of our new initiatives, the bonus sprints during the mass start races were well-received although we have still some homework to do to better market them and to exploit their full potential. The same goes for the so-called pit stops which was trialed twice. In both occasions, the rather wet conditions helped to make the pilots successful. Both these initiatives have been introduced to make the competitions even more interesting and exciting for the spectators and the media.
The pre-World Championships in Liberec (CZE) were a valuable experience to get ready for the title event next year. The Organizing Committee obtained great lessons learnt especially for snow production, competition management and security services. This especially applies to Cross-Country since on the hill, the sports organization worked well whilst certain infrastructure works still have to be completed.
In our new venue, Klingenthal (GER), we had weather problems with very strong winds. Our appreciation belongs to the very engaged team there which worked extremely hard both before and during the event.
For next season, we will do our utmost to welcome the Grand Prix Germany back to the schedule. After all, the tournament has a 15 year long history. We are also looking forward to the return of Chaux-Neuve (FRA) since 2003. Since the stadium at Holmenkollen in Oslo (NOR) will be under construction, our final is planned to take place in Trondheim next year.