News from the World of Skiing 

  Schlierenzauer wins twice in Zakopane Grand Prix ... more

  LG Snowboard FIS World Cup starts downunder ... more

  Pernilla Wiberg to head IOC Evaluation Commission for 1st Winter Youth Olympics ... more

  Quiksilver to sell Rossignol Group ... more

  Female sport in focus: Vonn nominated for Sportswoman of year ... more


 Inside FIS 

  FIS Tour de Ski preparation in full force ... more

  Obmen get ready for season in St. Petersburg ... more


 Member News 

  Othmar Schneider celebrates his 80th ... more

  Condolences ... more


 In Depth 

  Athletes in Summer Training: Nordic Combined

The new direction of Nordic Combined ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

Schlierenzauer wins twice in Zakopane Grand Prix
Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT)
Photo: NordicFocus

The FIS Grand Prix Ski Jumping 2008 continued in Zakopane (POL) last weekend. Two competitions were scheduled for Friday and Saturday, one each, but the first competition had to be cancelled on Friday due to strong winds. Both competitions were then successfully held on Saturday within four hours of each other. In both of them, Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer, the current Grand Prix overall leader, took a clear victory. In the first competition, he landed the longest jumps in both rounds, winning by 12 points ahead of Michael Uhrmann of Germany. In the second competition, Uhrmann posted the longest second jump and took the runner-up position 6.4 points behind Schlierenzauer. Local talent Lukasz Rutkowski made the spectators happy by finishing third in the second competition.

"It was difficult to concentrate again after the prize-giving ceremony for the first competition. But now I am extremely happy about my two wins. This gave me a lot of self-confidence for the upcoming competitions," commented Schlierenzauer.

After six of the ten competitions, Schlierenzauer now leads the Grand Prix overall rankings with 470 points, ahead of Andreas Kofler (AUT) who has 315 points and Uhrmann, who has collected 287 points. The Grand Prix will continue in Hakuba (JPN) in ten days' time.

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LG Snowboard FIS World Cup starts downunder
Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI)
Photo: Oliver Kraus/FIS

The season opener for the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup 2008/2009 will take place in Cardrona, New Zealand on 6th and 7th September. The half-pipe contest held on the newly-built 22 feet super-pipe will feature many of the world's top talents. For the second time, the international competition series will kick off with qualifier heats on 6th September with the finals on 7th September.

The Cardrona half-pipe will be the first FIS World Cup event in partnership with the new title sponsor LG Electronics of Korea. A high quality starter field is expected with more than 70 male boarders from 19 nations are led by 2007 double World Champion (half-pipe and big air) Mathieu Crepel. The Frenchman will face last year's Cardrona winner Ryoh Aono (JPN) and 2008 half-pipe World Cup champion Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI). Several international top talents from Norway, Switzerland, and Germany, just to name a few countries, will also participate.

Also, this season's only FIS World Cup "downunder" will feature the first ever performance of a World Cup snowboarder from the Bahamas. Korath Wright who previously started for Canada will try to match his so far best World Cup season (2005/2006) during which "Kory" finished third at an event in Whistler (CAN).

On the ladies side, another illustrious field will enter the competition. Besides defending World Cup title holder and 2007 half-pipe world champion Manuela Laura Pesko (SUI), Kjersti Buaas (NOR), 2006 Olympic bronze medallist is among the top aspirants for victory. Holly Crawford (AUS) will celebrate a comeback after an absence of one year as well as Poland's Paulina Ligocka who has recovered from her injury.

Six more half-pipe contests will follow the season opener in Cardrona. They will be hosted in Switzerland, Japan, Italy, Canada and Spain. After New Zealand, the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup will continue in Chapelco (ARG), where the snowboard cross season will begin from 12th September 2008.

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Pernilla Wiberg to head IOC Evaluation Commission for 1st Winter Youth Olympics
Pernilla Wiberg

Following the decision of the IOC Executive Board to shortlist the four Candidate Cities of Harbin (CHI), Innsbruck (AUT), Kuopio (FIN) and Lillehammer (NOR), IOC President Jacques Rogge has appointed an Evaluation Commission to further analyze the projects put forward for the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in 2012.

The Evaluation Commission will be chaired by Pernilla Wiberg (SWE), two-time Olympic champion and four-time world champion, and IOC member. The other Commission members include Victor Khotochkin, Vice-President of the Russian Olympic Committee, Fredi Schmid, International Skating Union Director General, Martin Rutishauser, Swiss Olympic Association Secretary General, Gilbert Felli, IOC Olympic Games Executive Director, Christophe Dubi, IOC Sports Director and Essar Gabriel, IOC Head of the Youth Olympic Games.

As part of the candidature procedure, the Candidate Cities will have the opportunity in September to present their bid to the Evaluation Commission during a one-hour video conference call. The Evaluation Commission will draft a report on the basis of which the IOC Executive Board will decide which shortlisted Candidate Cities will participate in a postal vote by all IOC members. The announcement of the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games host city will take place in December 2008.

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Quiksilver to sell Rossignol Group

Quiksilver, one of the world's leading outdoor sports lifestyle companies, announced last week that it has received a binding offer from Chartreuse & Mont Blanc to buy 100% of the Rossignol Group. The group includes the Rossignol, Dynastar, Look and Lange brands. Quiksilver bought Rossignol three years ago. According to Quiksilver, the sale is consistent with its intention to reduce its exposure to the winter sports equipment manufacturing business to concentrate on its core apparel and footwear products.

Chartreuse & Mont Blanc is named after the two mountain ranges which are home to Rossignol's two key brands: Rossignol is nestled in the shadow of the Chartreuse mountain range and Dynastar in the shadow of Mont Blanc. Led by Bruno Cercley, a former CEO of Rossignol, C&MB is majority owned by the Macquarie Group and supported by a non-voting minority interest by Jarden Corporation. Jarden Corp. is the parent company of K2 and V”lkl.

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Female sport in focus: Vonn nominated for Sportswoman of year
Lindsey Vonn (USA)
Photo: Agence Zoom

FIS World Cup overall and downhill champion Lindsey Vonn (USA) was one of the nominees for the 2008 Sportswoman of the Year staged by the Women's Sports Foundation. One individual and one team sport female athlete have the chance to be honored Sportswomen of the Year annually.

Vonn's nomination follows her incredible 2008 season during which she became the second US female to win both the World Cup overall and downhill titles. One of 10 athletes nominated, Vonn competed for the award with such champions as Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin and pro golfer Lorena Ochoa.

The Women's Sports Foundation is an educational non-profit organization founded in 1974 by tennis legend Billie Jean King. It seeks to advance the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity (more here).

Female sport has recently set new benchmarks in general. With more than 42% female athletes, the Olympic Summer Games in Beijing set a new record for female participation in Olympic Games. Out of 11'196 total athletes, 4,746 were female. At the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, there were 611 women or 11.5 % of the athletes, whilst in Moscow in 1980, this had grown to 22%. At the Sydney Games in 2000, the number of female athletes reached more than 38 % and in Athens, four years later, there was female participation in 26 of the 28 Olympic sports. In Beijing, both sexes competed in the same number of sports.

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 Inside FIS 

FIS Tour de Ski preparation in full force
Výstaviště Praha

Over the last three days, the lead persons involved with the FIS Tour de Ski visited the four Tour host venues of Oberhof (GER), Prague, Nove Mesto (both CZE) and Val di Fiemme (ITA) for the upcoming 3rd edition of the FIS Tour de Ski performance by Craft Sportswear, which will take place from 27th December 2008 to 4th January 2009.

The site inspection started with the newcomer host Oberhof, the traditional German winter sports village in Thuringia. The Tour profits here from a well-proven infrastructure at the Grenzadler ski center and the experienced organizing committee which has often organized and will again organize the FIS Nordic Combined World Cup, as well as the IBU Biathlon World Cup.

In Prague, the organizing team led by Olympic Champion Katerina Neumannova presented the Tour inspectors the new venue on the former world expo grounds at Výstaviště Praha and spoke enthusiastically about the promotional activities planned for fans and spectators.

At the traditional Tour venues of Nove Mesto and Val di Fiemme, the focus of discussions was on refining the courses and related television coverage topics by building upon the exciting races from last season´s event.

“I’m very satisfied with the progress shown for the Tour. Our new partner Oberhof, along with the new competition site in Prague, promises to increase the value of the Tour and complements our experienced hosts in Nove Mesto and Val di Fiemme,” said Jürg Capol, FIS Race Director Cross –Country, and added: “The baby, the FIS Tour de Ski, is quickly growing up!”

For more information, visit www.tour-de-ski.com.

Contributed by Sandra Spitz and Mark Buttermann

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Obmen get ready for season in St. Petersburg
FIS Obmen in St. Petersburg

Ueli Forrer, Chairman of the FIS Sub-Committee for Ski Jumping Officials, Rules and Control, welcomed the FIS Ski Jumping commissioners, commonly known as "Obmen," representing their National Ski Associations in their annual meeting in St. Petersburg (RUS) from 28th-30th August 2008.

The session focused on analyzing the work of the FIS Technical Delegates and Jumping Judges during the past 2007/08 season. A special thank you belongs to the Working Group for Jumping Judge analysis that had done substantial work to observe and evaluate the judge scores during the entire season.

The Obmen also received additional guidance based on video analysis and examples to enable the further education of their national judge colleagues. A further agenda point included a discussion on the rule changes for the coming World and Continental Cup seasons along with the outstanding nominations of Technical Delegates and Judges for current season's competitions.

The national commissioner of Russia, Yuri Kalinin, had done an excellent job in preparing the meeting along with an interesting program of side events which left all the participants with beautiful memories from their visit to St. Petersburg.

Contributed by Horst Tielmann

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 Member News 

Othmar Schneider celebrates his 80th
Othmar Schneider in Boyne

FIS wishes to extend its best wishes to Othmar Schneider (AUT) who turned 80 last week. The first Austrian to win Olympic gold in any skiing discipline, Othmar Schneider is one of the ski sport legends in his native country. Olympic champion in slalom and silver medalist in downhill at the 1952 Olympic Winter Games in Oslo (NOR), Schneider was named the Athlete of the Year in Austria that year. Also a successful competitor in various forms of shooting and later coach of the Austrian shooters at the 1976 Olympic Summer Games, he was one of the ski pioneers in the USA and in˙Chile in both of which he established ski schools. Schneider also served as Chief of Course at the FIS World Championships in Portillo (CHI) in 1966. Othmar Schneider is owner of Hotel Kristiania in his native Lech in Arlberg and of Huber-Ger„tebau, manufacturer of ski edges. He is also a keen photographer and hunter.

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Condolences

FIS sends its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Achilleas Mitoudis who passed away on Thursday, 28th August 2008. A long-time FIS Technical Delegate (TD), FIS TD Regional Coordinator in his native Greece and member of the FIS Sub-Committee for Classification of Alpine Competitors, Sub-Committee for Alpine Courses and Sub-Committee for Alpine TDs as well as a past member of the FIS Sub-Committee for Alpine Rules and Control (ICR), Mr Mitoudis was a key contributor to alpine ski sport in the South-Balkan/East Mediterranean area for several years.

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 In Depth 

Athletes in Summer Training: Nordic Combined
Ronny Heer (SUI)
Photo: NordicFocus
Christoph Bieler (AUT)
Photo: NordicFocus

The new direction of Nordic Combined

By Sandra Spitz

The FIS Nordic Combined World Cup 2008/2009 will start in late November, at the traditional FIS Nordic Opening in Kuusamo/Ruka (FIN) on 29th-30th November. After the three competitions that made up this year's FIS Grand Prix Nordic Combined held from 24th July to 1st August 2008, right before the Olympic Summer Games in Beijing, the athletes are currently enjoying a longer than normal training period before the season truly gets underway.

As reported previously, the competition format in Nordic Combined will change for the World Cup season 2008/2009. The 2008 FIS Grand Prix provided an opportune chance to test the suggested new format consisting of only one jump and a 10 km race. The changes being tested received positive feedback from several athletes and teams.

"From my point of view, this step was necessary and very important for our discipline," said Ronny Heer, winner of the FIS Grand Prix competition in Einsiedeln (SUI) and a long-time member of the Swiss Nordic Combined team. "As long as I have been involved, there has been more of a downward trend in our discipline, especially in financial terms: We have had problems to find sponsors and organizers, which also impacts our chances for prize money. We needed this revolution to keep our sport on the radar screen. I'm convinced that with good marketing the discipline of Nordic Combined will thrive in the future."

Heer added: "Despite the changes, the best combined athlete - the best and fittest jumper-skier - will also win in the future; the new competition format will just be more compact. In the end, ski jumping will stay ski jumping and cross-country will stay cross-country, no matter if we race 10 km or 7.5/15 km."

Christoph Bieler, a member of the Austrian national team and a team Olympic champion in Nordic Combined, comments on the discipline's`re-launch': "It's time to change something in our discipline. I see potential especially in the marketing arena. I personally feel good with these changes."

But what, if anything, will change for the athletes and teams during their training?

"As regards the methods of training we do not plan to make any significant changes despite the rule changes. Rather, we will stay with the proven concepts and structures," noted Head Coach of the German national team, Hermann Weinbuch, "Whether we compete in one or two jumps makes no difference in the training. And there are no necessary major changes required to be fit for a 10km Cross-Country race."

"The only thing is probably that we will have to be more focused on concentration and the ability to deliver our best performance exactly in that one jump and during the 10 km race", agreed Ronny Heer.

There appears to be wide-spread support for the changes despite some nations possibly feeling disadvantaged. "The planned changes are massive, but I think that this represents a great chance for us to make Nordic Combined popular beyond Germany, one of its current core markets. That's why we are willing to make one or another compromise, even if the planned reduction of national starting places hurts us a bit," explained Hermann Weinbuch.

The final decision on the changes to the competition format will be taken by the FIS Council in its next meeting in November. The proposals prepared by the experts in the FIS Nordic Combined Committee are now for review with the National Ski Associations, with their comments due back by 15th September. They will again be discussed during the FIS Autumn Meetings in early October.

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