News from the World of Skiing 

New season, new faces: Trainer changes in Cross-Country Skiing

As in Alpine Skiing, the new training season has brought some changes in the coaching ranks of many Cross-Country Skiing teams. A summary of some that have come to the attention of the FIS Newsflash:

In Finland, Magnar Dalen is the first-ever foreigner to be appointed to the post of head coach of the Finnish Cross-Country team. Norwegian by birth, Dalen (42) has lived in Sweden for the last 15 years and was the head coach of Sweden's cross-country ski team from 1998-2002. He will be supported by assistant coach Eero Hietanen and Vesa M„kip„„ who takes on the new position of sprint coach.

In Norway, Źge Skinstad replaced Bjornar Haakensmoen as head of the Norwegian Cross-Country team as of April 1. Egil Kristiansen will coach the ladies' team while the position of the men's coach is reportedly still open. In Russia, Alexei Prokurorov is the new coach of the ladies' team while in Slovenia, Ivan Hudač (SVK) has been appointed to the position of head coach for Cross-Country.

In Sweden, Per-Źke Ytterg†rd (58) replaces Anders Bergstr”m as head of Nordic Disciplines in the Swedish Ski Association. While Inge Br†ten and Thomas Alsgaard continue in their previous coaching roles - albeit Alsgaard will be based in France where he can spend more time in his newly-found interest in wine - Ola Rawald (37) will be leaving his position as sprint trainer to take up a new challenge as coach for the Chinese national team. There he will work at the side of Per-Erik `Peken' R”nnestrand, who continues into his second year as head coach.

Swiss-Ski has named Barbara Broger (54) the successor of Michel Amtzenberger as head of Cross-Country while Giachem Guidon (44) was named head coach of the Swiss Cross-Country team. In Austria, Franz Gattermann, previously Nordic Race Director at Fischer, and Bernd Raupach from the German training center Ruhpolding form the main coaching staff at ™SV.

In the US, Pete Vordenberg has moved up to head coach, replacing Trond Nystad who departed after four years, and Chris Grover has been named sprint head coach replacing Vidar Loefshus, who is returning to Norway.

Jochen Behle, Marco Albarello, Dave Wood, Jean-Pierre Burdet and Mati Alaver are reported to continue in their previous roles with the German, Italian, Canadian, French and Estonian Cross-Country teams, respectively.


 Inside FIS 

Andorra visits FIS Office
Andorra delegation with Kasper

FIS President Gian-Franco Kasper received high-level guests from Andorra at the FIS headquarters in Oberhofen (SUI) on Thursday, 4th May. The Andorran delegation was led by Albert Pintat, Executive Council President (Head of Government) of Andorra, and also included Carles Font, Minister for Sports, and Albert Coma, President of the Andorran Ski Association. The main purpose of the visit was to demonstrate the importance to the Andorran government of an opportunity to host a FIS Alpine World Cup race in Andorra where skiing is the #1 national sport. Specifically, the delegation expressed an interest in hosting a ladies' race in a technical disciplines in the near future.


FIS President in key IOC Commissions
FIS President Gian-Franco Kasper

The IOC finalized the composition of its commissions for 2006 last week. In all, the members of 24 commissions, the audit committee, the delegate members and the IOC members on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Foundation Board were appointed. The role of IOC commissions is to guide the IOC and the Organizing Committees for the Olympic Games in their missions. As in 2005, FIS President Gian-Franco Kasper has been appointed to the Radio and Television Commission as well as in the Coordination Commission for XXI Olympic Winter Games - Vancouver 2010 where he will play a key role in ensuring the success of the next winter Olympics.


Spring Coordination Group in Val d'IsŠre: Getting ready for 2009

The spring Coordination Group meeting for the 2009 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in d'IsŠre (FRA) took place on Wednesday, 3rd May. With the resort enjoying outstanding spring conditions, skiers were still enjoying the final days of the season under bright blue skies when representatives from the Local Organizing Committee, the French Ski Association, EBU and FIS convened in the Congress Centre. Led by President of the Supervisory Board, Jean-Claude Killy, and Chairman of the Organizing Committee, Mayor Bernard Catelan, the on-going work, plans and visions were presented to the group.

The main subjects that were addressed included the imminent construction of the resort's new sports center that will be located at the foot of the slopes and that will serve as the main building for the media and competition services during the championships. In the coming months, the program for the test events will be foremost on the agenda, together with the preparation of the initial draft of the championship competition schedule.

Plans are also being drawn up to create an outstanding spectator experience. Specifically, the Organizing Committee is devising plans to enable the spectators to visit the competitions free of charge in order to create a real festival atmosphere during the championships in Val d'IsŠre.


Major venue reconstruction work underway for Liberec 2009

Liberec (CZE), site for the 2009 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, hosted a productive Coordination Group meeting on Wednesday, 10th May.

FIS Council Member Milan Jirasek and the City's Lord Mayor Jiřˇ Kittner joined the start of the day's deliberations which were led by Roman Kumpost, President of the Organizing Committee.

Numerous construction projects are underway both in the sports venues and in the city of Liberec, which is using the championships as a catalyst to renew and upgrade numerous facilities and services.

EBU member Czech Television also presented detailed plans for the television production, taking into consideration the technical advancements with digital production and high definition television.

The next gathering for the Liberec 2009 Coordination˙Group˙will be in September during the final inspection for the 2007 Championships in Sapporo where a team from Liberec will participate.


 In Depth 

Now and then of FIS Public Relations and Mass Media
Elisabeth Hussey

Interview with Elisabeth Hussey

Elisabeth Hussey (GBR), Chairman of the FIS Committee for Public Relations and Mass Media, will be retiring at the Vilamoura Congress after 33 years of service, including with the FIS Sub-Committee for Alpine Citizen Racers since 1973 and with the PR and Mass Media Committee since 1980. FIS Newsflash had a chance to get her parting thoughts on the latter area.

FIS Newsflash: There has been a lot of change in the media field during your tenure. What would you characterize as the most important developments since you started working with FIS?

Elisabeth Hussey: When I joined the PR & Mass Media Committee, it was known as the Publications Committee and we mostly dealt with the FIS Bulletin. At that time, the FIS Bulletin was the best, and only, method for regular communication with the media although it was published just three or four times a year. In fact, I remember having been an accredited journalist at the 1976 Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck (AUT) and our main working tools were the telephone, the telex and the copy-takers at the main newspapers.

The situation is very different now. There is constant communication between the media and FIS via the FIS Bulletin, the FIS Newsflash, the FIS PR & Media service and the FIS Office, all using a variety of communication channels and technologies. With that in mind, I would summarize the biggest changes in the PR & Mass Media area being the greatly increased speed of communication, the enhanced availability and efficiency of the various media, as well as the increased accuracy of coverage.

Today, Christian Knauth and his team provide a very comprehensive service and the daily work is nearly all done by the FIS Office. So we in the Committee have been able to concentrate on preparing a proper account of the history of skiing. We are hoping that this detailed timeline with key dates and figures will be finished this summer. Once available on the FIS Website, we will have a great tool that will help reduce mistakes and be a great reference for the media.

FIS Newsflash: Not only has the media changed drastically but also the FIS sports. What would you highlight as the biggest changes there in the past thirty years?

Elisabeth Hussey: I think the biggest change is clearly the role of money. In the 1970's, sport was still supposed to be about amateurism. That obviously did not work since the winners derived a financial advantage from their success, which led to a type of `sham-amateurism.' In my view, FIS has dealt with this challenge very well, introducing official prize money from early on. In other areas, I find that FIS has done a great job in its anti-doping work, maintaining exemplary relations with the World Anti-Doping Agency, and in promoting ever more professional event organization. Having followed the Torino Olympic Winter Games on TV, I would also like to highlight the fantastically entertaining events in Snowboard, especially snowboardcross, and in Freestyle Skiing, which provided excellent promotion for the sport of skiing on the whole.

FIS Newsflash: Going forward, what do you think will be FIS's greatest challenge in the PR & Media area in the future?

Elisabeth Hussey: As in the past, the media's expectations for more information, quicker service and improved access will continue to increase in the future, too. We should realize, however, that some limits will always be there and we will not be able to satisfy everyone no matter how we try. In terms of the greatest challenge, it is difficult to say as we cannot foresee how technology, for example, will develop and how we might need to adapt. Hence I prefer to leave this challenge for the next Committee Chairman!