News from the World of Skiing 

  Record weekend for Ruka Nordic Opening ... more

  North American tour sees many first-time winners ... more

  Alpine Skiing Continental Cups get underway ... more

  Virtual Olympic Congress - win a trip to Copenhagen! ... more

  New Freestyle sites just finished before snowfalls ... more


 Inside FIS 

  FIS and Doppelmayr/Garaventa extend partnership ... more

  FIS launches new Ski Jumping World Cup website ... more

  Engadine expertise highly appreciated in Bulgaria ... more

  International Perspectives on Skiing: Part VI ... more


 Member News 

  Oskar Fischer turns 70 ... more

  New Garmisch (GER) hill receives coveted prize ... more


 In Depth 

  Interview with Pernilla Wiberg: Making an impact through Athletes' Commission ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

Record weekend for Ruka Nordic Opening
Kuusamo atmosphere
Photo: NordicFocus
Petra Majdic (SLO)
Photo: NordicFocus

The 7th FIS Nordic Opening held at the Kuusamo ski resort Ruka (FIN) set a new audience record with 18'000 spectators visiting the ski stadium over the weekend. The revised competition program, true winter weather and the success of the Finnish athletes were given as reasons for the record numbers. On Saturday, a compact program consisting of five World Cup events within six hours was well-liked and created a great atmosphere at the stadium as 9000 spectators came to cheer for their favorites.

The Opening got off to a rocky start, with the rescheduling of the Ski Jumping team event to Saturday due to heavy winds that surfaced towards the end of the first round on Friday evening. Nordic Combined kicked off the competitions on Saturday morning with the first test of the new competition format. With the defending World Cup champion Ronny Ackermann (GER)˙taking the season's first victory, not much seems to have changed in practice.

In the season's first Cross-Country sprint competitions Slovenia's Petra Majdic continued her incredible record in Ruka taking already her third back-to-back win on the challenging sprint course while the Norwegian men swept the podium led by the defending World Cup sprint champion Ola Vigen Hattestad on top.

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Simon Ammann (SUI)
Photo: NordicFocus
Anssi Koivuranta (FIN)
Photo: NordicFocus

During Saturday's Ski Jumping, Simon Ammann of Switzerland edged a strong Austrian trio - Wolfgang Loitzl, Gregor Schlierenzauer and defending World Cup champion Thomas Morgenstern in this order - for victory. In the team competition staged immediately thereafter, the host nation Finland took revenge from the poor showing in the individual event and won ahead of the highly-favored Austrians. The German team surprisingly landed in the third place, ahead of the Russian team.

On Sunday, the first individual start distance race in classical technique saw a Finnish double victory in the ladies with Aino Kaisa Saarinen taking her second World Cup victory ahead of teammate Virpi Kuitunen. In the men's race, 24-year-old Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR) claimed surprise victory in an exciting race, just 3.5 seconds ahead of defending overall World Cup winner, Lukas Bauer (CZE). More Finnish celebration was seen in the second Nordic Combined race as youngsters Anssi Koivuranta and Janne Ryynaenen took a double victory for the hosts. It was Koivuranta's maiden World Cup victory which was made that much more special as it came in front of his home town audience.

All eight planned events were successfully completed. The positive feedback motivates the organizers to develop the event and atmosphere further, especially after the Nordic Opening has now been confirmed by the FIS Council for further four years up to and including the 2012/2013 season.

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North American tour sees many first-time winners
Peter Fill (ITA)
Photo: Agence Zoom
Hermann Maier (AUT),
Photo: Agence Zoom

In the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup it is time for the traditional North American tour with visits to Lake Louise (CAN); Aspen and Beaver Creek (both USA). The much-awaited start of the speed season ensued in Lake Louise with the men's downhill and super-G races last weekend. In good snow but changing wind and light conditions, the downhill race on Saturday turned out to be a story of first-timers. The win went to Peter Fill of Italy, who took his first career win. The surprise second of the race was Swiss Carlo Janka, who claimed his first World Cup podium with bib number 65 with third place going to Swede Hans Olsson, also on the podium for the first time. For the experienced athletes, Lake Louise proved a hard nut to crack: The dominator of two of the three training runs, Bode Miller, finished 16th while last year's downhill champion Didier Cuche took 32nd.

Sunday's super-G also brought a shock result, of different nature: Hermann Maier (AUT), the greatest super-G skier of all time, surprised everyone including himself and claimed his 54th career, and 24th super-G win. The latter extends his own record, the former leaves him one win shy of Vreni Schneider for third on the all-time win list, second among men behind only Ingemar Stenmark. With his Lake Louise triumph, 35-year-old Maier (he turns 36 this Sunday) became the second-oldest World Cup winner after 36-year-old Marco Bchel who won in Kitzbhel (AUT) last season. The men's tour continues in Beaver Creek (USA) this week with the season's first super combined scheduled for Thursday.

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Tessa Worley (FRA)
Photo: Agence Zoom
Sarka Zahrobska (CZE)
Photo: Agence Zoom

In Aspen, the ladies technical season continued in honor of the American Thanksgiving holiday. Saturday's giant slalom saw 19-year-old French Tessa Worley storming to her first World Cup podium and win. After tough conditions including poor visibility due to a snowstorm, the skies cleared up for the second run, but the conditions were still trying. First-run leader Denise Karbon (ITA) experienced that toughness first-hand, and fell just before she reached the finish, which moved her down to 15th place.

Saturday's slalom was a special day for the Czech Republic that finally collected a FIS Alpine Ski World Cup victory. 2007 slalom world champion Sarka Zahrobska skied calmly through a pelting snow and ferocious wind to hold off the challenges from Austria's Nicole Hosp and third place finisher Tanja Poutiainen (FIN) who has taken the overall World Cup lead before the speed races in Lake Louise.

The wind also caused challenges for the timing operations. In one visible wind-caused challenge the timing appeared to stop too early and the proper result required checking of back-up timing which delayed the final time score for Canadian Brigitte Acton and caused confusion about current leader between her and Marusa Ferk (SLO).

Serge Carnal, director of Swiss Timing comments: "We had heavy snowfall and strong winds at the ladies slalom in Aspen. The race had to be interrupted several times to ensure the safety of athletes and guarantee the timing. Although all procedures are in place to ensure correct results, nothing can counter the natural elements, even the latest technology. Our rules are made so the accuracy of the timing can be guaranteed and sometimes this means that the times must be double-checked before publication."

Chief Race Director Atle Skaardal confirmed: "The jury checked the timing tape print out immediately after the problem occurred. We could see for ourselves that the times were correct after the wind-gusts caused the early additional impulse and truly appreciate the professional and calm work of the Swiss Timing team in dealing with such problems."

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Alpine Skiing Continental Cups get underway
Karin Hackl (AUT)
Photo: Erich Spiess
Loveland hosted opening NorAm races

While the FIS European Cup for Alpine Skiing already kicked off with the indoor slaloms a few weeks ago, the real racing got underway for the ladies in the last ten days in Funasdalen (SWE), Trysil and Kvitfell (both NOR). After the indoor and first six outdoor events, Verena Hoellbacher (AUT) leads the overall standings before Karin Hackl (also AUT) and Lene Loeseth (NOR).

The men are currently in the process of racing at Reiteralm (AUT) where the season opening giant slalom was held yesterday followed by the first slalom today and super-G on Thursday, following its rescheduling from Monday due to a storm. The men will then continue in St. Vigil (ITA) while the ladies' planned races in Claviere (ITA) and Montegenevre (FRA) have been postponed with further information following in January. The ladies' EC season will now continue with the season's first downhill and super combined races in St Moritz (SUI) from 11th-15th December.

The 2009 Alpine NorAm Cup, a stepping-stone tour for aspiring World Cup racers, opened this week in Colorado with men's races at Loveland Ski Area 1st-2nd December and ladies' races at Winter Park Resort 2nd-3rd December. This NorAm season will include a total of 28 ladies' races and 30 men's races throughout the U.S. and Canada with NorAm Finals, consisting of four days of racing, concluding the tour at Whiteface Mountain outside Lake Placid, NY (USA) in March.

Athletes winning event titles in the Alpine Skiing Continental Cup races earn fixed World Cup starting places for the following season. As of next season this also applies to the overall winner of any of the Continental Cup series.

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Virtual Olympic Congress - win a trip to Copenhagen!

Have you made your contribution to the Virtual Olympic Congress yet? The Virtual Olympic Congress is the IOC's way of encouraging participation in the context of the next Olympic Congress, scheduled to be held in October 2009, and an effort to take the pulse of the Olympic Movement and the general public.

The five themes that the IOC is seeking comments on are the Athletes; Olympic Games; the Structure of the Olympic Movement; Olympism and Youth, and the Digital Revolution. Within the last topic, areas under consideration include a new management of sports rights; how to increase the size of the sports audience; and communication with stakeholders in the digital age. Some of the questions that the IOC is seeking feedback on are: to what extent can new media help to increase audience sizes and what should be the Olympic Movement's position in relation to virtual communities?

If you haven't already, contribute today for your chance to win a trip to Copenhagen. There is just a month left to send in the contributions. The deadline is 31 December 2008 - click here to contribute,

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New Freestyle sites just finished before snowfalls
New half-pipe in La Plagne (FRA)
New mogul course in Myrkdalen (NOR)

Significant competition infrastructure investments have occurred in many FIS Freestyle World Cup locations in the past several months. The ski area owners, ski clubs and organizing committees have worked together to develop new ski cross courses, mogul slopes and made significant investments in the construction of half-pipe structures.

La Plagne (FRA) has probably made some of the most significant infrastructure investments with the development of two half-pipes, one for beginners and one so-called oversized World Cup pipe at the Plagne Bellec“te area. The FIS Freestyle World Cup final will be held there in mid-March and the mogul and ski cross courses will be constructed on the Jean-Luc Cr‚tier slalom stadium (see here).

At the St Johann (Tirol) Oberndorf ski area in Austria, there has been significant work to modify one of the main slopes to create a permanent track for training use by the Austrian Freestyle ski cross team. The slope will also be used for the upcoming FIS Freestyle World Cup to be held in early January 2009 (for more see here).

In Myrkdalen (Voss Fjellandsby, NOR), recently elected to stage the 2013 FIS Freestyle World Championships, a new mogul course and a new ski cross site has been developed which will be used for the World Cup in February. The courses will share a combined finish area (for more see here).

Branas (SWE) has made significant investments in the construction of a permanent ski cross course which has 210 meters vertical drop and is 1000 meters long. Special efforts have been made to build jumps and banks into the natural terrain. It will also host a World Cup ski cross in February (link).

The Olympic venue for freestyle and snowboard competitions at Cypress Mountain, West Vancouver (CAN) is now fully prepared to stage the final test events this coming February. The shared course for ski cross and snowboard cross events will be tested for the first time. (link)

A less permanent, but perhaps just as expensive proposition is the specially-constructed scaffolding jump sites planned for the aerial World Cup competitions in Moscow (RUS) and Kiev (UKR). These temporary structures will have a vertical drop of some 40 meters. The jump site in Moscow will eventually be used for the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup that takes place some two weeks afterwards.

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 Inside FIS 

FIS and Doppelmayr/Garaventa extend partnership

FIS and the Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group have agreed an extension of their partnership for further two seasons up to and including the 2009/2010 ski season. Through the agreement, Doppelmayr/Garaventa carries the label of the "Official FIS Product Partner" in the field of ropeway engineering. The agreement is effective immediately and includes the option for further two years after 2010.

Reflecting on the cooperation, FIS President Gian Franco Kasper stated: "We look forward to the continuing partnership with the Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group. For FIS, it is important to help our member National Ski Associations, their Local Organizing Committees and partnering ski resorts gain access to the latest know-how and technology in ropeway engineering. This partnership is of special importance for the developing ski nations which truly benefit from the expertise they obtain through interaction with Doppelmayr/Garaventa professionals."

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FIS launches new Ski Jumping World Cup website
New Ski Jumping World Cup site is online

Coinciding with the FIS Nordic Opening, FIS was pleased to present the launch of the new FIS Ski Jumping World Cup website at www.fisskijumpingworldcup.com.

Joining the websites focused on the Audi FIS Alpine Ski and LG Snowboard FIS World Cup launched in October, the new Ski Jumping FIS World Cup fan website intends to provide year-round service to fans of Ski Jumping along with background information for the media. All three sites focus on the athletes offering detailed profiles, behind-the-scenes reports, blogs and lifestyle information. Of course, the sites will also feature live and delayed streaming from the competitions along with continuous news coverage and in-depth information on the venues as well as a World Cup Wall of Fame for each discipline.

FIS is working together with Infront Advanced Media Solutions, an Italian subsidiary of Zug, Switzerland-based Infront Sports and Media AG 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 and snowboarding globally. To visit the new Alpine site, click here and for the Snowboard site, here.

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Engadine expertise highly appreciated in Bulgaria
Bansko seminar organizers & experts

The first-time World Cup venue Bansko (BUL) is well on its way preparing for the challenge ahead. On Sunday, 30th November 2008, the Bulgarian Ski Association organized a seminar for local decision-makers (hoteliers, municipality, industry, etc.) in Bansko where Dr. Josef Zenh„usern from the FIS Aid & Promotion program and member of the Wengen World Cup organizing committee, and Andri Schmellentin, marketing chief for the Alpine World Cup in St. Moritz, shared their know-how. The discussion especially focused on the impact on tourism and economic effects of a World Cup, while highlighting the challenges an organizer may face during the event.

The Bulgarians were particularly impressed by the volunteers in St. Moritz. They had underestimated the amount of helpers needed for such an event (an average of 200-400 volunteers engage with each World Cup in Europe). Recruiting volunteers and training them will be some of the biggest challenges for February 2009. Yet, the seminar showed that Bansko is ready for the challenge and intent on playing an important role in the ski circuit. When it comes to hospitality, they may already be ahead of others.

The seminar was held in conjunction with the annual opening of the winter season - shown live on TV - featuring former ski champions including Hanni Weirather-Wenzel, Andi Wenzel, Gustavo Th”ni, Peter Popangelow and Marc Girardelli. Weirather-Wenzel commented about the downhill slope: "I'm glad I don't have to ski down that slope. The ladies' knees will be shaking." Bansko has developed rapidly over the past ten years and today offers around 20'000 beds and over 70 kilometers of attractive slopes - 90% of which have the option of artificial snow making.

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International Perspectives on Skiing: Part VI
Cape Town (RSA)

This week further three new video interviews are available in the sixth part of the "International Perspectives on Skiing" series. Recorded on the occasion of the 46th International Ski Congress in Cape Town (RSA), these interviews present Bill Slattery (USA), Chair of the FIS Snowboard Committee, Emmanuel Couder (FRA), director of sports at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships Val d'IsŠre 2009 and Tomas Savi (EST), President of the Estonian Ski Association, all of whom shared their thoughts on various aspects of our sport. Click here to view the videos.

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 Member News 

Oskar Fischer turns 70
Oskar Fisher

FIS wishes to extend its best wishes to Oskar Fisher who turned 70 on 30th November 2008. The Allg„u native is a long-time member of the FIS family and current chairman of the FIS Sub-Committee for the Alpine Inter-Continental Cups and previously was a highly respected FIS Technical Delegate in Alpine Skiing. He also played a key role in the organization of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2005 in his home town of Oberstdorf where he long served in the municipal politics and community government. Oskar Fischer has participated in nine Olympic Winter Games and in as many FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in various roles from chief of competition to team captain, FIS Technical Delegate and member of the FIS Jury during his long engagement for ski sport.

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New Garmisch (GER) hill receives coveted prize
New Olympic hill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER)
Photo; Horst Nilgen

The new Olympic hill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER) has received the renowned Ernst & Sohn Engineering Prize 2008. Awarded since 20 years, this prize recognizes significant engineering achievements in all related areas. It especially acknowledges work that has achieved new dimensions in engineering or solved engineering problems in an unusual way and with new details. For the first time, the award considered recent projects in Austria and Switzerland besides works in Germany. The new Garmisch-Partenkirchen Olympic hill was realized by architects terrain loenhart & Mayr from Munich and Sieber + Renn from Sonthofen and the engineering firm Mayr Ludescher Partner. According to the award jury, the hill is a striking landmark which both dominates and fits into its environment. The jury also commanded the fluidity of the flow of energy in the clear and highly functional construction and remarked how Ski Jumping, an athletic battle with gravity, finds with the extraordinary engineering solution its match in the prominent facility.

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 In Depth 

Interview with Pernilla Wiberg: Making an impact through Athletes' Commission
Pernilla Wiberg

Pernilla, you have served in the IOC Athletes' Commission for almost seven years. How has it been?

"The past seven years have been a great experience for me. It has been a wonderful learning opportunity which has thought me to see the Olympic movement and the athletes' role in it from a truly holistic perspective. I have also grown more convinced about the importance of the athletes' contributions to the administrative and management side of their sports. This was the mission of Sergey Bubka, the former chair of the IOC Athletes' Commission, and we have made great strides in facilitating more involvement by athletes at different levels. Another focus for us has been different ideas focused on taking better care of the athletes in the Olympic Movement. One of the greatest examples of this work is the contract between IOC and Adecco, which provides career opportunities for Olympic athletes either during or after their competitive careers."

FIS is working to re-energize its Athletes' Commission and new elections will be held during the 2009 FIS World Championships. What would you see as potential areas of engagement for the FIS Athletes' Commission?

"I was President of the FIS Athletes' Commission during my career. Based on that and my years in the IOC Athletes' Commission, I know that there are several areas where the Athletes' Commission can play a role. The IOC Athletes' Commission often serves as a sounding board for WADA to aid development of the anti-doping procedures. Given the importance of this area, the FIS Athletes' Commission will likely engage with that as well, especially from the educational and information perspective. There are other overall level topics, too, as opposed to discipline-specific issues such as rules or the calendar. Some of these include prize money, insurance and post-career planning, just to mention a few."

Why should an athlete get involved in the FIS Athletes' Commission or vote in the upcoming elections?

"The Athletes' Commission is the best way for the athletes to voice their opinions and begin dialogue on items that bother them. An active Athletes' Commission will help serve as a direct channel to the FIS decision-makers. Of course it is also a great opportunity to meet peers from other disciplines and from other sports. A representative of the FIS Athletes' Commission is always invited to the annual IOC Athletes' Forum, the next one taking place in Morocco in May 2009. There will be one annual meeting of the FIS Athletes Commission and this is a great way to begin involvement in the administration of your own sport."

Pernilla Wiberg is one of the only four female alpine ski racers who have won at least one World Cup race in all the five events. During her career, she collected a total of 24 World Cup victories, including the overall World Cup in 1997. She is a three-time Olympic medalist (two gold medals) and the winner of six FIS World Championship medals, including four gold medals.

She was elected member of the International Olympic Committee in 2002 when she was became one of the winter sports representatives in the IOC Athletes' Commission. She currently also serves, among others, on the Coordination Commission for the XXI Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver 2010 and this autumn, she chaired a special commission tasked with evaluating cities bidding for the first Winter Youth Olympic Games to be held in 2012.

For more information on the FIS Athletes' Commission, download a short information flyer here.

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