News from the World of Skiing 

  Sunny start for FIS Grand Prix Ski Jumping ... more

  Successful first Nordic Combined test events ... more


 Inside FIS 

  Sybille Gafner appointed as FIS Finance Manager ... more

  New structure in FIS Marketing & Communication Department ... more

  Switzerland host the FIS Grass Ski Junior World Championships 2008 ... more


 Member News 

  South American Cup to kick off ... more

  Scientific survey on learning curve for Big Air Snowboarding ... more

  Inauguration of new water ramp in Oberaudorf ... more


 In Depth 

  Voices of New Committee Chairmen ... more


 News from the World of Skiing  

Sunny start for FIS Grand Prix Ski Jumping
Podium in Hinterzarten (GER)
Photo: Nordic Focus

The 15th edition of the FIS Grand Prix Ski Jumping kicked off last weekend together with the Grand Prix in Nordic Combined, both in Hinterzarten (GER). On Saturday, the team event was on the schedule at the traditional "Adlerschanze" (eagle hill) jumping venue. The Austrian team with Andreas Kofler, Manuel Fettner, Gregor Schlierenzauer and Thomas Morgenstern claimed victory 5.5 points ahead of a strong German team that is newly coached by Werner Schuster (AUT). The Czech team took third place.

On Sunday, German Georg Spth, who already had the longest jump in the team event with 108,5 meters, won the first individual competition of the 2008 FIS Grand Prix in Ski Jumping. The native of Oberstdorf was fourth after the first round but landed a great jump of 110 m in the second round perfectly. Spth claimed victory 7,5 points ahead of the Austrians Andreas Kofler and the 2007 Grand Prix Champion Thomas Morgenstern. The competitions in Hinterzarten were a successful start to the 2008 Grand Prix, as well as of the 3rd edition of the 4-Nations-Tournament which consists of competitions in Hinterzarten, Einsiedeln (SUI), Courchevel (FRA) and Pragelato (ITA). The series will continue on the home hill of the 2002 Olympic Champion Simon Ammann and his well-known teammate Andreas Kttel on the Swiss national day on 1st August.

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Successful first Nordic Combined test events
Georg Hettich (GER)
Photo: Nordic Focus
FIS Grand Prix in Oberstdorf (GER)
Photo: OC Oberstdorf

The first test events with a new Nordic Combined format took place successfully on 25th- 26th July in Hinterzarten and on 28th-29th in Oberstdorf (both GER). For the first time in the history of this Olympic discipline, the Nordic Combined athletes competed on the day before the official competition in a jumping qualification round and carried out their competition with only one jump and an inline skate race of approx. 15 km (which takes about the same time as a 10 km Cross-Country race).

In Hinterzarten, 53 competitors found good conditions on the jumping venue "Adlerschanze". With a great jump of 106 m, the young Austrian athlete David Zauner took the lead after the first part of the Nordic Combined competition.

After a short postponement of the Inline skate competition due to a thunderstorm, Zauner went into the Inline race over 7 x 2,3 km in the center of Hinterzarten with an advantage of 8 seconds to his first chaser of the now reduced field of 40 competitors. Soon several big groups were built and the race tactics started, cheered by over 4000 spectators on the course. At the end, the 2006 Olympic champion and native from the Black Forest, Georg Hettich (GER) attacked on the last 100 meters and claimed victory 1.3 seconds ahead of Bill Demong (USA) and David Kreiner (AUT).

The test event in Oberstdorf, the host city of the 2005 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, took place under sunny but windy weather. On Tuesday, the conditions to make a fair and safe jumping competition were not given due to gusts and the new rule that the qualification round counts for the competition jump and is the base for the starting order in the inline skate race was activated. In front of a big crowd, Anssi Koivuranta (FIN) started first on the challenging in line course in Oberstdorf. After an exciting race, the Austrian Mario Stecher claimed victory in the finish sprint, 0,5 seconds ahead of the both Finnish athletes Jaakko Tallus and Anssi Koivuranta.
The overall ranking of the 2008 FIS Grand Prix Nordic Combined is led by Mario Stecher, four points ahead of the winner from Hinterzarten, Georg Hettich.

The next and last competition of the test event series, the 2008 FIS Grand Prix Nordic Combined, will take place on Friday, 1st in Einsiedeln (SUI) in combination with the FIS Grand Prix Ski Jumping.

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 Inside FIS 

Sybille Gafner appointed as FIS Finance Manager

From 1st August, Sybille Gafner (gafner@fisski.ch) will take over the running of the FIS Finance Department, having worked as finance assistant for 7 years. For those of you who have not met Sybille at the FIS Committee Meetings in Zrich, you will be able to do so this year when the meetings take place during the first week in October. She is supported by Nadia Wicker (wicker@fisski.ch) who joined FIS in April on a 50% part-time basis. After a short second spell with FIS, Martin Pluess decided to leave at the end of July 2008.

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New structure in FIS Marketing & Communication Department
Christian Knauth
Photo: Nordic Focus

As part of the continued efforts to best service the challenges and tasks facing FIS, the roles within the marketing and communications department have been redefined:

Christian Knauth will serve as the Public Relations Director, servicing existing sponsors and partners;
Niklas Carlsson will become Sponsorship Coordinator in addition to the role of Event Manager;
Riikka Rakic as Communications Manager also includes several projects including the new FIS World Cup fan websites and Bring Children to the Snow campaign;
Richard Bunn in his capacity as FIS Television Consultant is handling negotiations and regulations
Susanne Gawlyta, Marketing Assistant additionally manages the Transfer of Knowledge Programmes
Kathrin Schiesser, Marketing Services keeps an eye on them all! and supports the administrative work

Details are presented in the Inside FIS section of www.fis-ski.com

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Switzerland host the FIS Grass Ski Junior World Championships 2008

After 2003, the FIS Grass Ski Junior World Championships are about to return to Switzerland. The organizing committee from GSC Linth will host the season's main event for the younger Grass Ski athletes from 30th July to 3rd August, 2008 in Rieden/Gommiswald, not far from the lake of Zurich. On the home turf of the 2007 FIS Grass Ski Junior World Champion Mirko Hppi, the athletes will measure their form on the "Chummeren" slope which has a length of 420 m and a vertical drop of 105 m in the super combined, the super-G, the giant slalom and finally the slalom races.

Grass Skiing has a long history since the 1960's. The leading nations in this discipline are Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, as well as Iran. If you would like to learn more about Grass Skiing and visit an event please check the competition schedule here.

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 Member News 

South American Cup to kick off
Cristian Javier Simari Birkner
Photo: Zoom

The Southern hemisphere Alpine Continental Cup season will start soon. For the second time, the South American Cup (SAC) will kick off at Cerro Castor (ARG), the southernmost ski area in the world located in the `Tierra del Fuego' (Land of Fire) National Park. The competitions will begin with the ladies' and men's slalom races on 8th August, 2008 and continue on 9th August with giant slalom races of both genders. Cerro Castor is quite a new ski resort, which is becoming more and more attractive for training camps for several traditional Alpine nations because of the low altitude of between only 195-1'057 meters above sea level. After the competitions in Cerro Castor, the SAC will continue at the traditional venue of Catedral (ARG) on 18th August with slalom races for both genders. The men will stay then in Catedral and have a giant slalom on 20th August while the ladies are heading as usual to Chapelco for a giant slalom on 23rd August.

At the end of August, the South American Cup will move to Chile, where speed races and a super combined competition will take place in La Parva. The last stage of the SAC will be held in El Colorado (CHI) from 31st August to 2nd September, where one super-G per gender will be organized by the Brazilian Ski Association. Two super-Gs, a giant slalom, a super combined are on the schedule of the final weekend in Chile.

Last year, the SAC rankings were dominated by the Argentinean siblings Cristian Javier and Maria Belen Simari Birkner despite the participation of several foreign athletes - by the beginning of September we will know if they were able to repeat that feat.

South America is enjoying great snow conditions. Tierra del Fuego for example had ski-able snow by mid-late May and the season kick-off already took place on 16th June. Besides the flourishing Alpine market, Cerro Castor along with other resorts in the Valley of Tierra Mayor outside of Ushuaia, Argentina, is also slowly expanding its Nordic ski services and will again be part of the Marchablanca's 21/7km race this coming August.

In addition to the SAC, the Australia/New Zealand Cup (ANC), another one of the five regional series in the FIS Alpine Inter-Continental Cup program, which also includes European Cup, Nor-Am Cup and Far East Cup, is scheduled to start in the middle of August.

"The Alpine Continental Cups play a very important role as a stepping stone into the FIS Alpine World Cup, and especially for the younger athletes, as an opportunity for them to gain valuable high-level competition experience," says Oskar Fischer, Chairman of the FIS Sub-Committee for Continental Cups and adds: "Particularly, I'm happy that the super combined races for both genders are established and again included in this year's schedule of both Continental Cups in the southern hemisphere. We are looking forward to great COC series in the southern hemisphere with optimal conditions and wish all athletes good luck!."

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Scientific survey on learning curve for Big Air Snowboarding
Big Air competition in Arosa (SUI)
Photo: Zoom

During last season, Jerom Pannier, a snowboarding coach from Belgium, conducted a survey to determine the typical learning curve and zones for Big Air riders. A retrospective questionnaire was developed with experts in the field. A total of 34 World Cup athletes participated in the study. Now available, the survey's conclusions may help coaches in talent detection and provide training advice.

The survey found that the snowboard Big Air techniques can be divided into ten levels. The time needed to reach the top-level is approximately ten years, regardless of the starting age. The technical learning zone is not influenced by the evolution of equipment nor by the fact that the riders have their roots in a country with natural snowboard conditions or not. The zone is influenced by the starting ages of the athletes where it is noted that any delay in time is recovered by a faster learning curve at the higher technique levels. Needless to say, the individual characteristics of the athletes (riders), the backward looking focus of this study and the relatively small sample size should be considered in interpreting the results. Click here to see the brief results of the research.

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Inauguration of new water ramp in Oberaudorf
New water ramp in Oberaudorf (GER)
WSV Oberaudorf

On Sunday, 27th July, the inauguration of the Viking water ramp, which is especially made for mogul skiers, freeriders and snowboarders took place in Oberaudorf (Germany). More than 600 spectators attended the official opening to cheer the performances of the athletes from the German National Team (Snowboard and Freestyle ski cross) and as well the young athletes from the Bavarian Ski Federation. This new facility provides for all national teams with perfect training conditions by featuring a water ramp (12m high, run 23 m, 2 ramps, 33 and 44 degrees), a huge ground trampoline, a grass soccer place, two beach volleyball fields and a climbing area. Please click here for more information about the Viking water ramp in Oberaudorf.

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 In Depth 

Voices of New Committee Chairmen
Finn Marsland (AUS)

As reported earlier, the newly-elected FIS Council appointed several new Committee Chairmen in its first meeting following the FIS Congress in Cape Town (RSA). In this second part of the series, the FIS Newsflash is pleased to present the initial thoughts by two of them as they embark on their new task for the 2008-2010 period:

Finn Marsland (AUS), new Chairman of the Sub-Committee Cross-country for Lowlanders and Citizen Racers

"I didn't go to Cape Town with the intention of becoming chairperson of the Cross-Country Sub-Committee for Lowlanders. Although Australia had sent teams to the Lowlanders competition in the 1980's, as coach of the Australian Team since 1999 I was always more interested in taking my athletes to compete in national competitions such as Swiss Cup and Austrian Cup, and having them progress up through Continental Cup to World Cup level.

After discussions with Lowlanders committee members and with Vegard Ulvang I found there was wide support to have the committee change its focus to providing support for developing nations, rather than focusing on running an event that had been superseded by strong Continental Cup competitions and Worldloppet competitions. The Worldloppet series is now the main attraction for citizen ski racers, and the Continental Cup series around the world are perfect stepping stones for new nations to experience international competition and develop athletes to the next level.

My vision for the "Cross-Country sub-committee for development", which is what I would like to call it, is to provide support for developing nations. The goal is to bring more countries into the FIS Cross-Country skiing family; to help them develop and promote the sport at home; and to assist athletes to progress through the various levels of competition, ultimately to World Cup level. The starting point for each nation can be quite different. Some nations have no snow and no skiing culture; some have snow but no competitions; and some have domestic ski competitions, even FIS competitions, but no athletes competing at World Cup.

The main commodity we have to offer these developing nations is information. Information on how to train; how to organise a team; how to organise ski competitions; how to enter FIS competitions. On a number of occasions on Continental Cup and at World Junior Championships I have seen coaches from new teams turn up to team captains' meetings without confirming the entry two hours before, simply because no-one told them they needed to. Most nations are aware there are qualification standards for World Cup and World Championships, but I'm willing to bet that many athletes from developing nations do not know the new IOC participation criteria for 2010 Winter Olympics and what they need to do to qualify for Vancouver.

Initially I have three main tasks that I'd like the committee to work on.

When we have achieved these initial tasks then we can look at other strategies to develop and promote cross country skiing below World Cup level. I have some ideas already, and I'm looking forward to receiving input from other nations.

Thank you for this opportunity to outline my ideas for the committee. Don't forget, the Australia / New Zealand Cup for Cross Country Skiing starts on 9th August and concludes with the Kangaroo Hoppet at Falls Creek in Australia on 30th August. All nations welcome!"

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zkan Koyuncu (TUR)

zkan Koyuncu (TUR), new Chairman of the Sub-Committee for Rollerskiing

"I think the priority of our Sub-Committee will be the promotion of our sport toward new countries and regions. Now we are really active in Europe but our goal is to engage countries from the American and Asian continents. I know that there are lots of roller skiers but unfortunately they are not participating in any FIS activities. We will try to reach them.
We have spent the last two years on integrating our competition rules into the FIS Cross-Country ICR and we modified our TD system according to FIS standards. I know we still need further improvement on these topics.

Another point that we should focus on is to include and attract more Cross-Country skiers to roller ski competitions. In effect all Cross-Country athletes train on roller skis during the summer. But most of them prefer to use them only as training equipment. We should persuade them to also compete. I believe that once they are used to competing on roller skis, they will enjoy it a lot such as amongst others, Giorgio Di Centa, Sabina Valbusa or some other top Cross-Country athletes do.

Given the reality of global warming, I believe that popularity and importance ofRoller Skiing will increase. I will try to closely cooperate with the Cross-Country sections of the National Ski Associations. The FIS Sub-Committee for Rollerskiing will be more active inside FIS than ever. We will also closely collaborate with the other FIS Cross-Country Committees and the FIS Marketing & Communication department. Of course we would like to ask for more support from FIS management.

I believe that in few years the organizational level of the FIS Roller Skiing World Cup will increase and we will attract more interest from the sponsors as well as TV coverage.

The proposal to the FIS Council for my nomination was supported by the Committee members. Of course, it was a big honor for me but a huge responsibility, too. I know the Roller Skiing family and their expectations very well but I trust myself and my Committee members. I know that they believe in me as well. I want to thank them all for their trust. I believe that we will work in great harmony and move our lovely sport forward. Many thanks as well to my federation for their support of my nomination."

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