News from the World of Skiing 

New season, new faces: Trainer changes in Alpine Skiing

With the beginning of the new training season, there have been several changes in the coaching ranks of many World Cup teams. A summary of some in Alpine Skiing that have come to the attention of the FIS Newsflash:

Swiss-Ski recently announced that Hugues Ansermoz (42) is taking over the direction on the Swiss ladies' Alpine team. Ansermoz, a citizen of Switzerland, has previously worked with the Canadian team, most recently as the manager of the ladies' team. Coming from a skiing family, he is the son of Jean-Pierre Ansermoz, who was a legendary serviceman working for many years for Switzerland's most successful athlete, Vreni Scheider. Ansermoz's successor as the head of the Canadian ladies' team is said to be Lionel Finance, currently the head of the French ladies' team, who reportedly will be replaced by Jean-Philippe Vulliet, until now the coach of the ladies' speed team at Swiss-Ski.

Alpine Canada also announced the nomination of Paul Kristofic to the position of team manager for the men's team. The coach the Canadian men's World Cup speed team until the past season, Kristofic will now be responsible for overseeing team logistics, planning training programs, and supporting the men's team coaches. He will report to Dusan Grasic, who was recently nominated to the position of alpine director for the entire Canadian alpine ski team, succeeding Max Gartner as alpine director.

Kristofic succeeds men's head coach and World Cup speed coach, Burkhard Schaffer, who is returning to home in Austria to pursue new opportunities with the Austrian ski team.

In Germany, Wolfgang Maier was recently nominated as Head of Alpine Skiing, moving up from his previous position of Alpine ladies' head coach. His successor is Mathias Berthold, who previously trained the German ladies' technical team. The German men's team will continue to be led by Werner Margreiter.

In Finland, Christian Leitner and Michael Bont have confirmed that they will be continuing to oversee the men's and ladies' Alpine teams that include Kalle Palander and Tanja Poutiainen, among others.

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 Inside FIS 

Marcel Looze appointed as FIS Snowboard Race Director
Marcel Looze (NED)

FIS is pleased to announce the appointment of Marcel Looze (NED) to the position of FIS Snowboard Race Director. He will commence officially from 1st June, 2006 but will, however, also be present in his new position at the 45th International Ski Congress in Vilamoura/Algarve (POR) from 21st to 27th May, 2006.

Succeeding Alex Hller, who returns to the family business, Marcel Looze (40) brings to his new role a diverse set of skills and experience with several sport disciplines. A member of the FIS Snowboard and Alpine Committees since 2000 and of the FIS Children and Youth Committee since 2003, he also understands the challenges and responsibilities faced by event organizers, having organized several FIS Snowboard World Cup and European Cup events between 2003-2005. Day-to-day sports management know-how collected in his current role as Technical Manager at the Netherlands Ski Association, and previously as Elite Sports Manager at the Netherlands Triathlon Association and as the owner of an event organizing firm, round up Looze's profile as a multi-faceted sports professional.

"I am very excited about this opportunity and I believe that I will be able to both sustain the on-going development and bring some new ideas to the Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup", says Looze and adds:"I am really looking forward to working together with the entire Snowboard family."

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FIS Congress: Final details
Vilamoura/Algarve (POR)

Now just over 2 weeks away, the 45th International Ski Congress promises to be a fantastic occasion for the worldwide skiing family. On the last count, 880 participants have registered for the event at Vilamoura/Algarve (POR).

In addition to over 250 hours of meetings, attractive networking opportunities are available. The Congress excursion will take place on Thursday, 25th May 2006, exploring the famous red cliffs and the inland nature of the region "off the beaten path." Please note that the deadline for registration for the Jeep Safari excursion is on May 8th (ris@fisski.ch). Registration on-site is not possible.

On Thursday, 25th May 2006, there will be a cocktail for the announcement of the elected organizers of the FIS World Championships in 2010 & 2011. Additionally, since the Algarve is one of the world's leading golf destinations, a FIS golf tournament will take place for all interested persons on Sunday, 21st May or Tuesday, 23rd May. If you wish to participate in the golf tournament, featuring a business class round-trip flight in Europe as the winner's prize, and have not yet registered, please register with the tournament coordinator, Toni Kaegi (toni.kaegi@bluewin.ch) as soon as possible.

Finally, it has come to our attention that some items were missing from the official Congress Book. Please click here to find the details on:

16.1 - Council: Maximum price for accommodation at FIS Intercontinental Cups
16.2 - GER: Central order and commercialisation of data/timing services
16.3 - NOR: Data and timing for the Alpine World Cup
16.4 - AUT: FIS registration fees
16.5 - AUT: Series sponsors at FIS Series Events

The missing pages will be sent to all National Ski Associations by e-mail and post as well.

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Special offer for FIS Academy Congress Modules and 6-Day Program

As previously communicated, the FIS Academy will be holding three management education modules at the FIS Congress. These modules cost a total of _250. The 6-day Program, tailored to the needs of the FIS Family, will be held in the week following the Congress in Manchester (GBR).

If you wish to attend both of these courses, the cost of the modules will be deducted from the cost of the 6-day program, making the 6-day program cost _4195.

This offer is only available for Congress Modules booked prior to the Congress.

To register, email info@wasec.mbs.ac.uk or click here.

Note: There are three scholarships available. Applications for scholarships must be made by Friday 12th May. Scholarships will be announced on Monday, 15th May. For more information, email info@wasec.ac.uk or visit here.

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 In Depth 

On the Past and Future of Cross-Country Skiing
Peter Petricek (SLO)

Interview with Peter Petricek (SLO)

Prior to the 2006 FIS Congress in Vilamoura, the FIS Newsflash had a chance to ask Peter Petricek (SLO), Chairman of the FIS Cross-Country Committee, about his thoughts on the sport and its future.

FIS Newsflash: The FIS Tour de Ski promises to be the biggest change in the 2006-2007 Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country calendar. What do you think of this new concept?

Peter Petricek: I have always been a great fan of the Four-Hills-Tournament in Ski Jumping and therefore have supported the concept of the FIS Tour de Ski since the idea was introduced by Jrg Capol and Vegard Ulvang in late 2004. I see it as a great vehicle to make the sport of Cross-Country Skiing more attractive. Besides the overall World Cup winners, we will, with the Tour, have an annual World Cup season highlight. Our previous attempts to modernize the sport may have been a bit too conservative. Now, I think we have the right mix of capabilities and timing. Of course, the first edition of the Tour must be a success in all aspects. Providing that, I think the Tour will show what unused potential we still have in Cross-Country Skiing.

FIS Newsflash: Some critics argue that it is now time to stop the changes and stabilize the situation in Cross-Country Skiing. How do you see the development of Cross-Country Skiing in the past several years?

Peter Petricek: Cross-Country Skiing is unlike football which is equally popular from Argentina to Germany and Slovenia. It has long traditions in the Nordic countries where it is simply part of life. Our challenge is to make Cross-Country Skiing more popular worldwide, but in particular in Central Europe where the large populations live, and the audiences with money. Like it or not, we need TV viewers who can spend money on a sport as that is what our sponsors are looking for, and our sponsors are what enables us to award more prize money, organize better events and support the organizers.

Granted, we have introduced some new elements to Cross-Country Skiing, such as the sprint and the pursuit with a pit stop. These modifications have served to make the sport more exciting to the big audiences and are especially attractive on television. But I would also argue that some other changes, such as the mass start, are no real changes but rather refinements based on our past experience. The mass start had been used in team events for decades so it was only natural for us to implement it in the individual events as well. Other changes, such as having 30 instead of 16 athletes in the sprint finals, are really just fine-tuning.

FIS Newsflash: How do you see the future of Cross-Country Skiing?

Peter Petricek: From the perspective of TV viewers, a star is good for the sport. But there, too, a balance between stars and high quality competition is needed in the long term. In the future, I think we have two main challenges: first, we have to make sure that even at the elite level we cater to the needs of our broad basis of hobby skiers. They are important opinion leaders, promoters of the sport, and are also the people that the industry is most interested in given their expenditure in equipment. Secondly, we absolutely cannot allow poor TV coverage to continue. To ensure high quality TV production, we should consider hiring a TV expert to work together with the FIS Race Director and the PR & Media Coordinator throughout the season.

Although I will no longer be guiding the Cross-Country Committee since I will step down from the position of Chairman in Vilamoura, I think it will continue to be important to invest in good training for our Technical Delegates. And we have to take better care of the athletes and team service staff in the future, especially in terms of the World Cup calendar, traveling and working conditions. But given the leadership provided by Jrg Capol as FIS Race Director in the past three years, I know that the sport of Cross-Country Skiing is in good hands and can look forward to a bright future.

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