|News from the World of Skiing|
|News from the World of Skiing|
|Gian Franco Kasper |
The XXIX Olympic Summer Games in Beijing 2008 are now history and the skiing world's attention will slowly switch to the coming winter's highlights, including the FIS World Championships in Val d'Isre (FRA), Liberec (CZE), Inawashiro (JPN) and Sunwoo Resort, Gangwon Province (KOR).
As member of the International Olympic Committee, FIS President Gian Franco Kasper attended the Games for their entire duration. Impressed by the quality of his most recent Olympic experience, he commented: "From both organizational and athletic perspectives, the Beijing Games were absolutely on the highest level ever seen; they were truly gigantic!" He added:" In China, with its 1.3 billion inhabitants, everything is bigger than elsewhere in the world, and so were the 2008 Games. The organizing committee had spared neither effort nor time to perfectly prepare absolutely everything, to the tiniest of details."
"The city of Beijing has changed enormously during the years of Games preparation. What impressed me most, however, was the pure excitement of the people working on the Olympic team, the hundreds of thousands of volunteers who participated in making the Games reality. They were so very proud to have been selected as part of the organizing team and to show to the world what their country is capable of. In short, to show China to the world! I was constantly awed by the friendliness of everyone I encountered no matter what their task was in the organization."
In terms of the climatic conditions, President Kasper remarked that the organizers even managed to find a solution to the feared smog-problem. "During the Games, the air quality was absolutely fine. Thanks to the incredible obedience of the Chinese people, the government managed to reduce the traffic levels dramatically. Yet the weather was and is hot and humid - there is nothing to do about that!"
Looking forward to the legacy of the Games, he noted: "The politics are not what we are about as a sports organization. For us the future challenge will be that it will be impossible to outperform Beijing 2008. The future organizers will have to focus on making their event special in their own ways. There is much that we could learn from Beijing in terms of logistical and technical details but it will not possible to repeat elsewhere what we saw there; the 2008 Games were unique in so many respects, not least in terms of financial and human resources. For China, the Games will mean an opening in direction of the West, at a minimum through the thousands of people that had learned English. For sport in general, the Games were a milestone as there can be no doubt about the current˙importance of sport in the Chinese society."
Referring to the consequences to the world of skiing, he concluded: "It is this focus on sport that is also likely to benefit us in skiing. The leadership of the Chinese Ski Association is very determined to develop all the skiing disciplines in their country and to breach the gap to the world's leading nations. But they have an even greater opportunity on the recreational level. With the sheer size of the country's population, it will be a success for us if just a few percent become skiing enthusiasts. A great basis in the number of regular skiers will automatically lead to success at title events, rather than them having to focus on the gold medals from the start."
China will host the 24th World University Games, also known as the `2009 Universiade,' which will be held in the country's skiing capital city Harbin, 800km north of Beijing. Harbin is the former organizer of the Asian Winter Games and is also one of the four remaining candidates for staging the first-ever Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012, the host of which will be elected in November/December this year.
|Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT)|
The FIS Grand Prix Ski Jumping will continue in Zakopane (POL) on 29th-30th August with two competitions. After the first four events, the overall standings are led by Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT), who is 10 points ahead of his teammate Andreas Kofler who has 260 points. German Georg Spaeth is ranked third.
There are still six competitions left on this summer's schedule: After Zakopane, the teams will head to Hakuba (JPN) before the last two competitions are held in Klingenthal (GER) and in Liberec (CZE) in early October. The Liberec event on 4th October will also serve as a pre-World Championship test event on the normal hill as both the ladies and men's Continental Cup series visit the 2009 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships venue.
Zakopane will also stage the last competition in the international 2008 FIS Youth Ski Jumping series. For the third time, these events - targeted at female and male jumpers up to 14 years of age - have been staged in conjunction of the FIS Grand Prix Ski Jumping events in Hinterzarten (GER), Einsiedeln (SUI), Pragelato (ITA) and Zakopane.
"The FIS Youth events continue to be a great experience for these young jumpers. Organized together with the FIS Grand Prix, for many of them these are the first competitions staged in a professional manner including their very first proper equipment controls and accreditation procedures. And the inclusion of some of the world's top ski jumpers such as Andreas Kttel and Simon Ammann in the FIS Youth prize-giving ceremonies leaves enduring memories for the young athletes," commented Walter Hofer, FIS Race Director Ski Jumping.
|Race Day in the sun in Catedral (ARG)|
Several Alpine World Cup teams are training in the Southern hemisphere currently. Many have chosen resorts in New Zealand as their destinations, such as Coronet Peak. These include the US men's and ladies' national teams, the Japanese national team, and Swedish men's and ladies' teams while the Canadian ladies have already returned home following three weeks work and the Swiss ladies are due to arrive in September. The FIS Australian New Zealand Cup (ANC) in Alpine Skiing kicked off at Mt Hotham, Australia last weekend from 18th-21st August with the participation of ski racers from more than a dozen countries and will continue at Treble Cone and Mt Hutt on the New Zealand side in September.
Meanwhile, others such as the Swiss men's team have spent several weeks in South America where the FIS South American Cup (SAC) is also in full swing. The competitions started at Cerro Castor with a technical weekend on 8th-11th August, followed by more technical races at Catedral and Chapelco, all in Argentina. The series moved to Chile for the first speed races this week. A total of four downhill races and two super-G and super combined competitions each were scheduled in La Parva (CHI) for this week. Unfortunately the first two days of downhill training runs had to be re-scheduled due to high winds. After La Parva, the final SAC competitions will be held in El Colorado (CHI) from 31st August to 2nd September.
For detailed results see˙for ANC, here and for SAC, here.
|"Toppa's Dream" course at Perisher Blue |
Photo: Andrew Pattison
The ANC Continental Cup in Freestyle Skiing opened in Australia with two mogul events at the Perisher Blue Ski Resort on 22nd-23rd August.
Teams from eight nations - USA, South Africa, Japan, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Canada and Australia - are taking advantage of bumper snowfalls for excellent summer training and competitions. Several top World Cup Freestyle skiers participated in the first events including the ladies' World Cup mogul champion Aiko Uemura (JPN) who won the first ladies event and took second in the other one, behind Australian 20-year-old Emma Chapman-Davies. Wins in both of the men's events went to Osamu Ueno of Japan.
The ANC continued at Mt Hotham on 23rd August with a ski cross that featured a strong contingent from Canada, as well as teams from Great Britain and Australia. Aleisha Cline and Brian Bennet took the victories.
The ANC in Freestyle Skiing will conclude at Mt Buller (AUS) with the ABOM Mogul Challenge 30th August.
The 2008/2009 season of Worldloppet will get underway on 30th August 2008 with the Kangaroo Hoppet. The Kangaroo Hoppet is the Australian representative in the Worldloppet series of ski marathons in which only one race from each country may belong. With the acceptance of the Polish race of Bieg Piastow, this season's Worldloppet will, for the first time, feature 15 races in as many countries on four continents. The 21km & 42 km free technique races at Falls Creek (AUS) will offer excellent conditions as Australia is enjoying one of the best winters in memory.
The Worldloppet series also partners with Right To Play, a humanitarian organization that seeks to create a healthier and safer world through the power of sport and play. For more information, visit www.rightoplay-ski.ch
|FIS Grand Prix Nordic Combined in Einsiedeln|
The FIS Nordic Combined Committee met in Prague (CZE) last Saturday to evaluate the experiences and feedback collected following the summer events held as the FIS Grand Prix Nordic Combined from 25th July to 1st August. These three events served as a test for the new competition format introduced during the FIS Congress week in Cape Town (RSA) in May, consisting of one jump followed by a 10km Cross-Country race.
Following the so-called "Funnel System," which is a structured method of decision-making in use in the FIS Nordic disciplines, the experience from the test events and the proposals of FIS experts were first discussed by the Nordic Combined Committee and will now be circulated to the National Ski Associations for comment by 15th September. They will again be dealt with by the Nordic Combined Committee at their Autumn Meeting on 1st October 2008. The final versions of proposals will then be forwarded for approval by the FIS Council at its next meeting in November.
"I was positively surprised by the constructive approach and upbeat tone of our Prague meeting. Based on the analysis, feedback and experiences during the test events, we continue to proceed with the new one jump, 10km race competition format. Overall, I have the feeling that the discipline of Nordic Combined finds itself in a certain phase of consolidation, especially regarding its competitive elements," commented Walter Hofer, the FIS Head of Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping.
The FIS Statutes edition 2008 is now available and can be downloaded from the FIS home page here. The 2008 edition includes the changes approved by the 2008 FIS Congress in Cape Town (RSA) in May. Each National Ski Association will be posted one paper copy while additional copies are available on request from the FIS Office in Oberhofen.
|Bernhard Russi |
Photo: Agence Zoom
FIS wishes to extend its best wishes to Bernhard Russi (SUI) who turned 60 last week. The downhill world champion in 1970, Olympic champion in 1972 and two time downhill World Cup champion is currently serving as Vice-Chairman of the FIS Alpine Committee. He is also a successful businessman including working as ambassador for Subaru and Intersport and as advisor for Vlkl and CEO of the Swiss subsidiary of the Willy Bogner Company. Known as a columnist for Swiss daily newspaper Blick and TV co-commentator for Alpine Skiing at SF DRS, Russi has designed many downhill courses including the new ladies' course Rhone-Alpes on the Solaise mountain in Val d'Isere where the 2009 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships will be staged, as well as the men's course for the championships on the facing mountain, Bellevarde which he designed for the Olympic Winter Games in 1992.