|News from the World of Skiing|
with Marcel Looze ... more
|News from the World of Skiing|
|Swiss double victory|
Photo: Agence Zoom
Photo: Agence Zoom
The Audi FIS Alpine Ski˙World Cup season got off to a sunny start in Solden (AUT) last weekend. The glacier venue hosted the season opening for the 11th time in 12 years.
On Saturday, the ladies kicked off the competitive action in a giant slalom race. Austrian Kathrin Zettel made an impressive comeback after the injury-plagued last season and summer as she overtook first run leader Tanja Poutiainen of Finland by 98 hundredths of a second. Austrian Andrea Fischbacher, until now known mainly as a super-G skier, took her first giant slalom podium, while the defending World Cup giant slalom champion, Italian Denise Karbon, finished fourth.
On Sunday, the Swiss controlled the opening men's race of the 2008/2009 World Cup season with Daniel Albrecht catching his third career win and Didier Cuche taking second, with a full second or more of a margin over all others. Beginning the defense of his GS title, Ted Ligety (USA) skied into third while Thomas Fanara of France made an impressive comeback from injury-related absence. The much anticipated return of Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal from last year's injury was perhaps a bit disappointing as he finished 13th. Clear and sunny conditions, with temperatures just above freezing, welcomed an estimated 15,000 fans at the Rettenbach glacier on Sunday.
The season will continue with two slalom races up in Finnish Lapland at Levi on 15th-16th November 2008.
|Peetu Piiroinen (FIN)|
Photo: Oliver Kraus/FIS
Photo: Oliver Kraus/FIS
The first big air of the current˙LG Snowboard FIS World Cup saw London debut as host of a FIS World Cup. In an enthralling final at sold-out Battersea Power Station before 10'000 fans, 2007 World Cup winner Peetu Piiroinen (FIN) took home the victory beating defending World Cup champion Stefan Gimpl (AUT). The podium was rounded out by Benedikt Nadig (SUI).
Piiroinen - along with the other Finnish stars Risto Mattila and Markku Koski, who both missed the final as did Olympic silver medalist Danny Kass (USA) - was among the top aspirants for victory. The Finn took the honors with first-class tricks: a flawless "Cab 1080" followed by a "Backside 900 Rodeo", which didn't count for the final score, and a "Cab 900."
Runner-up Stefan Gimpl was full of praise for his contender: "Peetu was unbeatable today. He was the best in the final as he was the best in the qualifiers." He added: "The event was outstanding. The location was wicked and the spectators were killing it. They definitely had a lot of understanding of what we were doing."
Although Piiroinen and Gimpl were the dominating riders, it was a young American who took home the honor of winning the best trick of the day contest. Scotty Lago deservedly claimed victory as he stuck a phenomenal "Double Backflip Late Backside 180" making the audience go nuts.
The LG Snowboard FIS World Cup will continue in Saas-Fee (SUI) for the season's second half-pipe contest this weekend. The qualification for both ladies and men is held on Thursday 30th October with the semi-finals and finals scheduled for Friday 31st October in the Freestyle Park Allalin. It's the fifth consecutive season now the freestyle riders will meet in the Swiss glacier village. No wonder that more than 130 athletes from 22 nations will enter the event.
The AIJS - the International Association of Ski Journalists - again took advantage of the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup season opening to award the Skieur d'Or - Serge Lang Trophy to recognize the most impressive performance of the last season. The 2008 trophy was presented to Austrian Matthias Lanzinger whose was tragically injured in a career-ending ski accident at the end of last season which led to the amputation of his lower leg.
The 27-year-old Salzburg native was member of the Austrian team since 1997, competing in the World Cup since 2004/05 and was deemed one of the most talented ski racers on the team. He specialized in giant slalom and super-G. His best World Cup result was a fourth place in super-G in Beaver Creek in 2005.
"Matthias Lanzinger is a role model for all athletes. Thanks to his permanent optimism he has been able to master his destiny in a truly remarkable way," commented AIJS-President Robert Seeger the unanimous choice by AIJS. "We wish Matthias Lanzinger all the best for the future and are sure we will still be hearing much about him."
The IOC's Coordination Commission, of which FIS President Gian Franco Kasper is member, made its seventh visit to Vancouver last week. The Commission confirmed that the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee (VANOC) continues to be on the right track to host top quality Olympic Winter Games in February 2010. The Commission was particularly pleased to see that VANOC's participation in the IOC's Beijing 2008 Observer's Program had a positive impact on its planning and that the Games legacy remains a top priority for the next Olympic Games organizers.
The Coordination Commission Chairman Ren Fasel said: "With the Beijing Games now over, it is Vancouver 2010's turn to step into the spotlight and I am confident that Vancouver 2010 can also raise the bar for the Olympic Winter Games. The team is in the process of finalizing a number of key Games-time plans, such as transport, volunteers and staffing, over the coming few months, and will then be in a very good position going into their operational phase at the end of next year."
The Commission especially spent time reviewing venues in the Whistler area, which will host the skiing and sliding sports as well as the athletes' village. Next season will see FIS World Cup events in five of the six FIS Olympic disciplines being held in the 2010 Olympic site, providing a valuable real-time test of the Olympic organizers' preparedness.
|Moscow press conference|
Photo: OC Moscow
Russia is on its way to becoming an international winter sports hub. "During my recent visits to Russia, I have become convinced of Russia being fully worth its success in winning the right to host the Olympic Winter Games 2014. There is no doubt that ski venues in Sochi will be at the highest level and the Russian attitude towards sports is unique," commented FIS Chief Race Director for the men's Alpine World Cup Gnter Hujara at a Press Conference in Moscow last week covering this winter season's schedule of competitions.
Russia will host a number of major events this winter. The first of these will be an unprecedented FIS Alpine World Cup promotional event in parallel slalom in Moscow, for which a unique and imposing site is being constructed. The facility will be 150 meters long, 36 meters wide and 60 meters high, and will allow more than 10,000 people to watch the action from a special viewing platform. Construction of the structure has already started in the Vorobievy mountains. Other events include a FIS Freestyle World Cup in aerials and the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup in big air, both in Moscow, as well as three Viessmann FIS Cross-Country World Cup competitions in Rybinsk.
Sochi 2014 is working closely with the FIS in readiness for its Alpine Skiing test event program, which begins in 2012. This will enable Russian athletes to prepare for the Games in the very venues in which they will be competing in 2014.
Audi has been giving its name to the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup for six years now. At the start of the 2008/2009 season in Slden, Audi announced the extension of this cooperation with FIS by another four seasons up to and including the 2011/2012 season. Audi is the name-giver and thus one of the most important partners of FIS and the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup. In addition, AUDI AG has been supporting the German Ski Association for over two decades now and is also partner of the Alpine national teams from Sweden, Finland, France, Liechtenstein, Italy as well as the athletes from Austria and the United States. For Audi another highlight of the 2008/2009 season will be the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Val d'Isre, France, in February 2009 where Audi is the presenting sponsor.
FIS is pleased to present two new World Cup websites, focused on the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup at www.fisalpineworldcup.com and LG Snowboard FIS World Cup at www.fissnowboardworldcup.com, launched last week.
The goal of these FIS World Cup fan websites is to provide year-round service to fans of skiing and snowboarding along with delivering background information for the media. They will especially focus on the athletes offering detailed profiles, behind-the-scenes reports, blogs and lifestyle information. Of course, the sites will also feature race and news coverage from the FIS World Cup competitions and in-depth information on the venues as well as a World Cup Wall of Fame. For Snowboarding, a community will also be incorporated allowing the fans to contribute their content.
FIS is working together with Zug, Switzerland-based Infront Sports and Media AG and its Italian subsidiary Infront Italia on this project. With support from the National Ski Associations, the ski industry and other FIS partners, FIS is convinced that these new websites will help us make great strides in promoting skiing globally. To visit the new Alpine site, click here and for the Snowboard site, here.
|Simulation in progress|
Photo: OC Inawashiro
The final inspection for the FIS Freestyle World Championships took place at the Inawashiro Town General Gymnasium, "Camerina", on 28th October 2008. More than 100 officials and staff who will be involved in the Championships gathered together to inspect the state of preparations and discuss possible cases which might occur during the event.
FIS Freestyle Coordinator Joe Fitzgerald commented: "We have 125 days, about three months to go. This kind of rehearsal is the last one before the actual competition in March. Collaboration of all parts of the organization is essential for the success of the Championships."
The inspection reviewed details from preparation phases before competitions, such as team arrival to the bib distribution prior to the race. During the second half, a simulation of the day of the Opening Ceremony was also held at the Inawashiro ski area, reviewing all procedures from course preparation to the start of the qualification to mixed zone operations and winner presentations and spectator guidance.
Some 30 participants representing 20 countries, including some newcomers such as India and Argentina, participated in the 7th FIS Leaders' Seminar that was held last week in Interlaken (SUI) and Solden (AUT). The seminar was entitled as "Development of Ski Sport in Emerging Countries by Organizing Events" and it saw presentations on the economic impact of winter sports events along with perspectives of the industry, local organizers and FIS. For the first time, the Leaders' Seminar included a visit to the FIS office in Oberhofen as well as a three-day outing at the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Opening in Solden (AUT). For many of the participants representing developing ski nations in the FIS Aid&Promotion program, the combination of presentations and attendance at a World Cup provided a unique opportunity to learn about event organization on site and the chance to meet with various representatives of the ski industry, such as during the FIS Forum Alpinum held in Solden in conjunction with the season opening.
FIS Event and Sponsoring Manager Niklas Carlsson was among the 2495 participants at last week's Sportel, the international sports convention for television and new media, held in Monaco. With the support of Richard Bunn, FIS TV Consultant, meetings were held with marketing agencies, TV companies and many others keen to learn about FIS and its activities. "The benefits to FIS of being able to make contact in one venue with so many players from the TV sports industry are enormous," commented Carlsson.
Organized for the 19th time in the Grimaldi Forum, four-day SPORTELMonaco is universally recognized as the most important trade show for companies involved with any aspect of sports programming and sports content across all distribution platforms.
|Seminar in Garmisch-Partenkirchen|
|Seminar in Steamboat Springs|
A busy program of FIS Technical Delegate and Jumping Judges' seminars is currently underway in Ski Jumping. Following a European seminar in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER) on 17th-18th October 2008, another seminar for North American TDs and Jumping Judges was held in Steamboat Springs, Colorado (USA) on 24th-25th October. Both seminars were led by Ueli Forrer, Chairman of the Jumping Sub-Committee for Officials, Rules and Control, and supported by Horst Tielmann, COC Coordinator, and in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, also by Miran Tepes, FIS Assistant Race Director Ski Jumping.
The seminars discussed topics such as the International Competition Rules and roles of the Jury and TD. Special focus was given to practical preparation of the in-run, equipment control, wind measurement and collecting information for the FIS Injury Surveillance System. At the end of both seminars, several participants took their TD and/or Jumping Judge examinations required for on-site duty.
Includes contributions by Horst Tielmann
Austrian Ski Association (OeSV) and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) signed an agreement to broadcast key European skiing events. The agreement includes a number of Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup events and the Four-Hills Tournament in Ski Jumping, both in Austria, including last weekend's opening in Slden.
Under the agreement, the EBU acquired all worldwide media rights for the next three seasons. EBU Director-General Jean Rveillon was quoted commenting on the agreement as an important achievement for the organization and its members. "We are delighted that the Austrian Ski Association has chosen the EBU to showcase its sport on TV. Skiing is a thrilling experience for audiences. We hope that this will be the start of a long-running partnership," he concluded.
with Marcel Looze
One competition in each event of the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup has been staged since the season start in New Zealand in September. FIS Race Director Snowboard Marcel Looze took his time to reflect on the first events and look forward to the rest of the season.
FIS Newsflash: What do you expect from this season?
Marcel Looze: "We had a really good start in New Zealand with the season opening half-pipe contest in Cardrona. With pretty much all the nations already training down there, staging the competition at the end of their training sessions is a great way to kick off the season. We hope to continue with the same strong rider fields in the other World Cup half-pipe competitions. This is already true for this week's event in Saas Fee (SUI) where we have welcomed a very strong group of riders from both around Europe and overseas.
The season's first snowboard cross in Chapelco (ARG) was the first time we competed in Argentina. We were able to try a new style snowboard cross course which was 20-30% longer than usual, in order to add a dimension of stamina to the technical elements. The course, shaped by highly experienced FIS technical advisor David Ny, was excellent and showed the direction in which we would like to develop.
The indoor parallel opening in Landgraaf has become a tradition, but this time it really showcased excellent opportunities for our new title sponsor LG to activate their sponsorship on the local level. The nearby facilities offered a great chance for the spectators and sponsor guests to get acquainted with the sport through lessons and other activities.
The London big air last weekend was a very special four-day event combining sports and music in an excellent manner. It also demonstrated the benefits of a high level of cooperation between the national association and the local organizer. The sold-out audience of 10'000 and the best rider field ever at a big air event was testimony to the attractiveness of our sport. I really hope to see more events of this caliber and quality of organization in the future too."
FIS Newsflash: What is new this season?
Marcel Looze: "One of the major changes is obviously that we have welcome onboard a new title sponsor, LG Electronics. With the European snow season just getting underway in earnest we look forward to further strengthening our cooperation and partnership.
In terms of venues, besides Chapelco and London, Grenoble - the next big air venue - is a new location on the calendar. A team from the local organizing committee was on site in London to collect ideas and experiences and I am very much looking forward to that event. We will also see a premiere big air in downtown Quebec City, along with the established big air sites of Moscow and Stockholm.
The new big air format received good feedback after the first try in London last weekend. The riders and audience alike enjoyed the suspense lasting until the very last jump of the competition. In fact, based on the initial feedback we might consider having more than 10 riders into the finals to make them even more exciting.
Another new thing on this year's schedule is the first-ever FIS slopestyle World Cup event to be held in Bardonecchia (ITA) in February. By organizing both a half-pipe and slopestyle competitions on one weekend, the organizers can benefit from the synergies of a group of riders competing in both events. The competition venues will also benefit leisure riders afterwards as the competition sites will be available to the public as snowpark afterwards."
FIS Newsflash: Is there something special this season?
Marcel Looze: "Of course, the first ever FIS Snowboard World Championships in Asia, to be held at Sungwon, Gangwon Province (KOR), are a highlight of the season. The competition venues are well-prepared for excellent sports competitions and the organizing committee is currently in the process of training their staff and finalizing all other preparations. The January World Championships also represent the start of the quota qualification period for the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010."