News from the World of Skiing 

  Time to say good-bye ... more

  1000 days until Garmisch-Partenkirchen 2011 ... more

  Virtual Olympic Conference: The Structure of the Olympic Movement ... more


 Inside FIS 

  Focus on TV production quality: Alpine Skiing ... more

  Correction of results: FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships 2007 ... more


 Member News 

  Review and brainstorming in OPA ... more

  10 years of tunnel skiing in Vuokatti (FIN) ... more


 In Depth 

  Season Review Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

Time to say good-bye
Janne Ahonen (FIN)
Photo: NordicFocus
Alexandra Meissnitzer (AUT)
Photo: Agence Zoom

Compared to last two years, relatively few star athletes have announced their retirement after this season so far. With three seasons of back-to-back title events coming up from 2009-2011, most of them appear to be motivated to pick up the training again after some well-deserved post-season holidays.

One of those deciding to bring down the curtain on a great career is Janne Ahonen, one of the most successful ski jumpers of all times. Following his fifth victory in the traditional Four-Hills-Tournament, the Finnish champion decided that 16 seasons at the highest level suffice. Ahonen set many records during his extraordinary career while achieving, among other things, 36 FIS World Cup victories.

Other well-known `eagles' that have announced their retirement include Martin Hoellwarth and Andreas Widhoelzl (both AUT), Henning Stensrud (NOR) and, perhaps more surprisingly after his career-best season, only 22-year-old Guido Landert (SUI).

In Alpine Skiing, the biggest name calling it quits is Alexandra Meissnitzer (AUT). 2'500 fans wished her farewell in her home town of Abtenau some ten days ago. Some of the highlights of `Meisi's' long career included three Olympic medals, two World Championship titles and one further medal, as well as one large and two small World Cup crystal globes along with 44 World Cup podiums.

Two long-time Nordic Combined World Cup warriors have also bid farewell: Michael Gruber (AUT) and Antti Kuisma (FIN), who recorded a total of 192 World Cup starts between the two of them.

In Snowboarding, Alex Maier (AUT) ended his career after 10 seasons and 234 international competitions after the Valmalenco FIS World Cup finals. His career highlight was a bronze medal in the 2001 World Championships in SBX. Maier's teammate, Dieter Krassnig, retired after 15 seasons already in January. Another rider ending his career this season was Xavier Hoffmann (GER), the half-pipe specialist.

Rather than recording retirements, Cross-Country Skiing is reporting comebacks: Marianna Longa (ITA), who announced her retirement last season, returned to racing at the World Cup events in Lahti (FIN) and earlier this week was named into the Italian national team for the upcoming season. Russians Olga Savialova and Alena Sidko are reported to be planning comebacks after a baby break. Meanwhile, the double Olympic champion of Turin, Kristina Smigun (EST) who already took the current season off is expecting her first child in June.

Several other athletes are still reported to be considering their options, including such world stars as Renate Goetschl (AUT; Alpine Skiing) and Hannu Manninen (FIN; Nordic Combined), who along with a few others are expected to confirm their future plans during the spring and early summer months.

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1000 days until Garmisch-Partenkirchen 2011
Photo: : OK WM 2011

On Saturday, 3rd May, it will be 1000 days until the opening of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER) in 2011. As part of the local spring festival, the official countdown clock will be revealed on the Richard-Strauss-Platz by Mayor Thomas Schmid together with the event's ambassadors Rosi Mittermaier, Maria Riesch, Christian and Felix Neureuther. The countdown will begin precisely at 12 noon on Saturday.

To protect the environment, the countdown clock operates on solar energy. It was designed in the same style as the signs at the town entrance promoting the future championships. Among the many activities at the traditional spring festival at GAP, the organizing committee for the championships will also be offering the visitors a chance to put their skiing skills to a test in a ski simulator. For more information on the 2011 champs visit www.gap2011.com.

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Virtual Olympic Conference: The Structure of the Olympic Movement

To prepare for the 13th Olympic Congress to be held in Copenhagen (DEN) in October 2009, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is calling on the general public to contribute to the future of the Olympic Movement. One of the themes that the IOC is asking the public-at-large to comment on is the structure of the Olympic Movement.

Within this major topic area, the three sub-themes that can be commented are the autonomy of the Olympic Movement, good governance and ethics, and the relationship between the Olympic Movement and its stakeholders.

These topic areas include such issues as how the Olympic Movement can best cooperate with different governments and supranational governmental organizations, whether the Olympic Movement is or should be autonomous with regard to various stakeholders such as commercial partners and the media, and what does the notion of a code of "ethics" for the Olympic Movement mean.

To contribute or find out more on the public consultation process, visit www.2009congress.olympic.org. Each individual may contribute two comments of up to 1000 words. Registration is required.

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 Inside FIS 

Focus on TV production quality: Alpine Skiing
OB van

Improving the quality of TV presentation of its sports has a high priority for FIS. Last Thursday, 24th April, a workshop was held at Zurich Airport Hilton with the participation of several experienced TV directors working with the FIS Alpine World Cup. Led by Richard Bunn, FIS TV Consultant, the expert group consisted of Fritz Melchert from ORF (Austria), Beni Giger from SF-DRS (Switzerland), Johan Bernhagen from SVT (Sweden), Ranko Varlaj from Croatian TV and Claudio Cavalotti and Peter Angel representing Infront. The workshop participants had two main objectives: first, to discuss ways of standardizing the TV production at a high level across all races and second, to consider new features for relaying more of the feel, dynamics and race experience to both current and new fans.

The meeting began with a review of the best and the worst from the 2007/08 season both in terms of technique/equipment and as well as style of coverage. All the participants contributed to an open and comprehensive evaluation of the TV production quality from last season on the basis of short clips from selected races. The next step for the workshop participants will be to update the FIS TV production guidelines for Alpine Skiing in time for another session in the autumn where all the TV directors for the 2008/09 season will be invited to discuss and review the revised guidelines.

Richard Bunn summarized:"We had very constructive discussions and identified a number of areas for improvement. These include the choice of cameras, the working methods and cooperation between the FIS Race Directors and the TV director, and the presentation of the races to the public, just to mention a few."

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Correction of results: FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships 2007

In view of the disqualification of Ondrej Horyna (CZE) for an anti-doping rule violation during a national competition in January 2007, and the disqualification of all results, forfeiture of all medals, points and prizes which he obtained afterwards, including the silver medal in the men's 20 km competition at the FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships in Tarvisio (ITA) on 16th March 2007, the results of the said competition have been corrected as follows:

1st Place OLSEN Eirik Kurland (NOR)
2nd Place ROETHE Sjur (NOR)
3rd Place HARVEY Alex (CAN)

The Norwegian and Canadian Ski Associations will receive the silver and bronze medals (on their return) to award to the successful athletes.

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 Member News 

Review and brainstorming in OPA
Manuela Henkel (GER), winner of 2008 OPA Cup
Photo: NordicFocus

Meeting in Planegg (GER) on Friday, 25th April, the Cross-Country representatives of the six OPA countries (Organisation des f‚d‚rations de ski des pays alpines) conducted a debrief and working group meeting for developing the sport at the Continental Cup level. Their Nordic Combined/Ski Jumping counterparts had already held their meeting a week before. Starting last season, the OPA holds separate spring review and discussion meetings for Cross-Country and Nordic Combined/Ski Jumping whilst the final decisions will be taken in a joint meeting in the autumn.

The meeting agenda included, besides a debrief of the past season, the proposed calendar for the 2008/2009 season, the possible introduction of a FIS COC Mini Tour for all nations, the future of the Cup Kurikkala, the values and counting of FIS points, as well as the future of the FIS Nordic Junior and U23 World Ski Championships.

"The OPA nations are frightened about the future of the FIS Nordic Junior and U23 World Ski Championships. This is an event of critical importance for us and especially for our young athletes. Immediate steps must be taken to increase its value for the media and spectators," said Karl-Heinz Lickert Chairman of the OPA Nordic Commission. "Most importantly, we have to find a solution to make this event more attractive to the organizers either with program changes, through separation of the disciplines (Cross-Country and Nordic Combined/Ski Jumping) or by mandating its organization by future hosts of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.

As a next step, the OPA nations will collect their detailed proposals for developing the OPA and other items together until the end of May.

Contributed by Sandra Spitz

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10 years of tunnel skiing in Vuokatti (FIN)

This April, the world's first ski tunnel in Vuokatti celebrated 10 years since it first opened its doors. Since VuokattiSport SkiTunnel's construction in 1997, it has served both professional and amateur skiers seeking to continue their training on snow throughout the year. Naturally, the summer months are the most sought-after thanks to the rare possibilities of skiing on snow. And, from as early as October onwards outside tracks prepared with man-made snow are linked to the trails in the tunnel.

"With 10 years behind us there is a great desire for evolution and expansion," said VuokattiSport Institute leader Pekka V„h„s”yrinki. He continued: "Thanks to close cooperation with our partners, such as Snowpolis and Jyvaskyla University, this evolution has now become reality. New mechanisms have been implemented to measure the athletes' performance while skiing in the tunnel. This technology is not limited to the ski tunnel; it has also been implemented on the jumping hills at the VuokattiSport Institute. The future also promises to bring tunnel expansion. Increasing the tunnel length is a certain must that will serve all skiers."

After 10 years of success, the Vuokatti ski tunnel plans for growth, which will cater to all athletes and help enable greater performances . A warm thank you goes to the 30.000+ skiers who have made VuokattiSport Ski tunnel their "training partner" throughout the years. VuokattiSport Institute vows to keep thriving for sporting excellence to serve these skiers even better in the years to come.

Contributed by Danny Silva

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 In Depth 

Season Review Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding
Joe Fitzgerald

Joe Fitzgerald, FIS Freestyle Coordinator, and Marcel Looze, FIS Race Director for Snowboard, shared some of their thoughts on the 2007/2008 season with the FIS Newsflash.

Joe Fitzgerald: It is often commented that `skiing is an outdoor sport'. Well, this season we had a lot of outdoors to deal with. Yet, compared to previous season, we can be quite happy with the 2007/08 season. We were able to carry out 95% of the planned competitions which is excellent after we only had 66% a year ago. At the same time, we experienced the complete spectrum of all possible weather conditions and lots of snow this season. From zero visibility to near-by avalanches to beautiful sunny mountain days and nice temperatures at night competitions, we saw it all. Several organizers put in absolutely heroic efforts to prepare the courses in conditions that ranged from massive amounts of snow to very heavy rainfall. Thanks to great cooperation among the teams, organizers and officials, I think we can be quite pleased with the season.

All of our key performance indicators are moving in the right direction - upwards. In terms of numbers, 470 different skiers (150 ladies and 320 men) from 35 nations competed at the 17 World Cup venues in twelve nations this year. In terms of national ski team participation, this season set a new record in our 28-year World Cup history. That is quite a difference from 1980, when we had 141 athletes from ten nations. And, a total of 18 nations made the podium. In our 60 competitions, there were 2019 starts, which is also 37.7% more than last season.

Based on these figures it is clear that more National Ski Associations are investing in Freestyle Skiing. This investment is flowing both into the teams and development of the coaches. The greatest interest and investment right now seems to be in ski cross which will make its Olympic debut in 2010. Many organizers have also made significant investments in their facilities and infrastructure. We held the first competitions at the brand-new future Olympic venue at Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver (CAN) in February and this is probably the best world-class venue on the circuit currently. The aerials event in Moscow (RUS), held on the huge scaffolding ramp which set a Guinness World Record, was one of the real highlights of the season. This competition was a great testimony of organizers' willing to invest to put together a top-level event. The same goes for the test events for the 2009 FIS Freestyle World Championships in Inawashiro (JPN) and for the 2011 title events in Deer Valley where we this season staged the first-ever FIS World Cup ski cross in North America. Finally, we are also seeing many companies showing greater interest in the Freestyle discipline in the form of financial support and sponsorship.

Overall, this was a season where we saw the Freestyle Committee decisions taken in the year 2000 to modernize Freestyle Skiing really starting to bear fruit. In ski cross, our strategy of organizing the so-called ski cross weeks both in France (Les Contamines & Flaine) and Switzerland (Grindelwald & Meiringen) worked out well. In both cases, two events were organized during one week in great cooperation between the two organizing ski areas. We are currently considering adding a third similar week. As an event, ski cross is developing in great strides and has really struck a chord with the audiences because of the exciting one-on-one duels and lots of action. As the results from this season show, there is a great mixture of seasoned skiers with several new up-and-coming names entering our competitions.

In moguls and aerials, our most established events with mature structures, we saw a very different season in terms of the names on top: along with some veteran skiers, some new names emerged. The modification of the air bump rules really put the focus back onto the turns. Aerials continues to be particularly strong in the growing ski markets of Eastern Europe and China, however top skiers from Canada and Australia won the men's and ladies' globes, respectively.

The half-pipe event, too, saw some great advances this season especially in course development and high quality competitions. For Freestyle, half-pipe is the one event finding the greatest resonance among the young generations and therefore very important for our future.

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Marcel Looze

Marcel Looze: It was a great season. All our competitions were held exactly as scheduled which is exceptional. Compared with the previous season this was a great improvement. Most organizers did an excellent job, too, which helped us further improve the quality of our events.

We were especially happy with the flow of the World Cup calendar. It is always difficult to find an appropriate balance among the global needs in terms of travel time and routes over an entire season. This year, we managed this challenge quite well and I hope we will continue to succeed with that in the future.

It was the second season working with our technical advisors for snowboard cross and half-pipe events. Particularly in SBX this approach has helped the event develop in a great way. Typically the technical advisors arrive on site some 8-10 days prior to the competition. This year they helped build some very good and challenging SBX courses especially in Valle Nevado (CHI), Lake Placid (USA), Gujo (JPN) and at the test events for the FIS Snowboard World Championships 2009 in Sungwoo (KOR). In half-pipe, the investment has also paid out for enhanced pipe quality. Our next challenge will be to implement the same at the other competition levels such as the Continental Cup. This is likely to take some time and we will probably have to develop specific guidelines for local SBX course builders to help guide the preparations.

This season, we held the first test for a team snowboard cross competition with two riders in each team and the normal four riders on the course at any point in time. It was very exciting and was well received by the teams who cherished the chance to demonstrate their team spirit. We also held the first slopestyle competitions at Continental Cup level. Those went really well and the proposed 2008/09 World Cup calendar that is subject to approval by the FIS Council already includes two slopestyle competitions,.

After 10 years of involvement, Nokia stepped down as the title sponsor of the FIS Snowboard World Cup at the end of the season. They did a great job in improving the sport and we are very grateful for their engagement over the years. Of course, we are also pleased to be able to announce a new title sponsor, LG Electronics of Korea, as of next season. With them, preparations for the coming season are developing really well and we hope to make our cooperation a great long-term success.

Looking forward, we will continue to focus on the athletes' safety, especially the safety procedures in SBX. We have not had any serious accidents in the past two years and are convinced of maintaining this line of strict precautions also in the future. In terms of other changes, we will be considering a format improvement for our big air competitions. We think that there are ways to condense the competition time while building excitement towards the end more effectively. We were also very encouraged by the success of the SBX team competition and would like to stage more of those in the future.

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