|News from the World of Skiing|
With Joe Fitzgerald .... more
|News from the World of Skiing|
|Anssi Koivuranta (FIN)|
|Simon Ammann (SUI) |
The FIS Nordic World Cups continued in La Clusaz (FRA) for Cross-Country and in Trondheim (NOR) for Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined. The season's first mass start races, held in heavy snowfall at the high altitude French resort, saw two Norwegian winners: Kristin Stoermer Steira returned to top of podium after more than three years after she distanced herself clearly over the ladies' World Cup leader Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN). In the men's race, Petter Northug outsprinted Dario Cologna of Switzerland who claimed his first career podium. Sunday's relays saw teams from Norway and Finland as winners under beautiful blue skies. The Viessmann FIS Cross-Country World Cup will continue in Davos (SUI) this weekend.
Excellent conditions characterized the Trondheim World Cup weekend. In Ski Jumping, the top favorites Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT) and Simon Ammann (SUI) took turns on top of the podium, in setting new hill records and in leading the overall World Cup. They were joined by newcomer Ville Larinto (FIN) in second place on Saturday. Schlieranzauer has made the podium in all competitions so far this season and looks forward to next weekend's events in Pragelato (ITA).
In the DKB FIS Nordic Combined World Cup, 20-year-old Anssi Koivuranta (FIN) has had a stellar season start with four podiums in as many competitions. In Trondheim, he added a second win to his career first victory captured at the Nordic Opening. Magnus Moan (NOR) claimed a win on Saturday after a break of almost exactly a year. With the cancellation of Liberec (CZE) competitions, the Combined athletes have a break until the World Cup continues in Ramsau (AUT) on 20th-21st December.
|Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR)|
Photo: Agence Zoom
|Mathieu Crepel (FRA)|
Photo: Oliver Kraus/FIS
The comeback of Aksel Lund Svindal in Beaver Creek (USA) was the topic of the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup last weekend. A year after a dramatic crash and severe injuries, the Norwegian talent made an impressive return by collecting back-to-back wins in the downhill and super-G along with a third place in giant slalom. Veteran Marco Bchel was close to setting a new record for the older winner in World Cup history as he lost only 0.06 seconds. Hermann Maier (AUT) kept his super-G leader's bib by taking 2nd while teammate Benni Raich claimed his 31st career victory by a margin of just 0.01 second over Ted Ligety (USA). Thursday's super combined had to be cancelled and was rescheduled in Val d'Isre this Friday.
The ladies' speed season opening in Lake Louise (CAN) was marked by heavy snowfall three days in a row after sunny training days. Reigning champion Lindsay Vonn (USA)˙left no chance to competition in taking already her fifth win in the Canadian Rockies. The second downhill had to be cancelled after several postponements due to continuing snowfall and poor visibility. In Sunday's super-G, Italy's Nadia Fanchini made an impressive comeback from injury by claiming maiden World Cup win. Fabienne Suter (SUI) and Andrea Fischbacher (AUT) shared the second place, as they shared victory in Sestriere last season. The ladies's next stop is La Molina (SPA) for a weekend of technical events.
The LG Snowboard FIS World Cup continued in Grenoble with the first ever big air hosted by France. The 15,000 spectators were happy to celebrate with Mathieu Crepel who took advantage of home turf to relegate Stefan Gimpl (AUT) and Jaakko Ruha to the lower podium ranks. Limone Piemonte (ITA) will host the season's first outdoor parallel events this weekend.
The DKB FIS Nordic Combined World Cup events planned to take place in Liberec (CZE) this weekend had to be cancelled due to a sudden onset of warm temperatures.
"We were snowing from the first day possible - and it looked optimistic. But a warm and wet weather front that followed after the cold period suddenly made it impossible to stage the cross-country part of the Nordic Combined World Cup at the Vesec ski stadium this weekend. However, this is no reason to be concerned about the World Championships - we are well prepared to produce snow at Vesec now that the weather forecast is improving again. And we have our plan B, and even a plan C," said Katerina Neumannova, President of the Liberec 2009 organizing committee.
"The plan B means that we have snow guns in place in higher altitudes in the Jizerske mountains, where there are better (colder) conditions for snowing. We are preparing deposits of snow and if necessary, we can transport it to the Vesec venue. At Bedrichov and Albrechtice, our locations in the mountains, we are able to prepare more than 10'000 cubic meters of snow and have already started production during two nights," added Katerina Neumannova.
"The plan C is something like a reserve plan. We have two large parking places on top of the Krkonose mountains, where we will collect natural snow to big deposits and in case of an emergency, we will use it for the Vesec area," said Neumannova.˙
"I can assure you that our entire team is working very hard in order to deliver successful FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. We cannot wait to welcome all the teams, the international media, our guests and of course, thousands of fans of Nordic skiing to Liberec in February," said Neumannova.
As an additional boost for the championships, the organizing committee of Liberec 2009 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships just received a confirmation from the Czech government of additional CZK 189 millions (Euro 7.3 millions) in financial support. These additional finances were granted to make up for the approximate 20% reduction in the value of the Czech crown compared with the Euro since the Czech Republic was awarded the championships in 2004. The championships in Liberec are the biggest sport event in the history of the Czech Republic.
|Flood lights on Face Bellevarde|
Photo: OC Val d'Isere
|Race preparations in Val d'Isere|
Photo: OC Val d'Isere
The season's first Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup super combined competition for the men that had to be cancelled in Beaver Creek (USA) due to inclement weather has been rescheduled in Val d'Isre (FRA). The dress rehearsal for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships will now include three races, starting with the super combined - consisting of a super-G and slalom - on Friday, 12th December followed by, as originally planned, giant slalom on Saturday and slalom on Sunday. Please note that due to the forecast weather conditions, the starting times for super combined have been confirmed as super-G at 11:00 CET (original:10:00) and slalom at 15:45 CET (original:14:00).
FIS Race Director Gnter Hujara commented on the rescheduling: "This calendar change provides us with an optimal opportunity to test the infrastructure for the World Championships in February. Both the super-G and slalom competitions will be held on the exact courses planned for the title events. Given the late starting time for the super combined slalom on Friday, we will also have a chance to test the flood lighting facilities. Moreover, all races will be carried out in excellent snow conditions."
Yves Dimier, Alpine Director of the French Ski Association added: "It is a great opportunity for us - the local organizing committee in Val d'Isre and the French Ski Association - to organize the additional super combined on Face de Bellevarde. Since the 1992 Olympic competitions, no super-G race has been held there. Now all the racers will have a chance to practice on this challenging course."
|Ramp construction underway|
Photo: OC Moscow
Russia's capital Moscow is actively preparing to welcome the unprecedented FIS Alpine World Cup promotional event scheduled for January 2nd, 2009. An enormous ramp is being constructed for this exciting event in the very heart of Moscow in front of Moscow's State University's main building. The promotional event will test the capacity of a flatland megalopolis such as Moscow to stage a unique alpine ski competition which may well set new world standards.
The ramp will truly be gigantic - it deserves entering "The Guinness Books of Records".˙It will be 56 meters high, 37 meters wide and 150 meters long. Last year a similar yet smaller ramp was constructed for the FIS Snowboard and Freestyle World Cup competitions. It had an elevation of 46 meters and a width from 20 to 32 meters.
The construction of this huge installation is currently underway in the Vorobyovy Mountains. The foundation of the future ramp has already been laid - the metal frame already rises up to 35 meters. So far, more than 75% of the work has been completed thanks to joint effort of several organizations - the Russian Alpine Ski and Snowboard Federation, "New League" Sports Club, Moscowsport, Ministry of Sports, Tourism and Youth Policy of the Russian Federation.
After completion of the metal frame, the ramp itself will also be installed and soon covered by man-made snow. After that, the entire installation has to be inspected and homologated by FIS experts. The plan is to have the ramp completely ready one week prior to the New Year!
It has been warmer than average in Moscow (about 3ĝC degrees above zero), and efficient snowmaking is technologically only possible at temperatures below zero. Nevertheless, the local organizers are used to Moscow's weather surprises. Should the temperature stay warm, they already plan to bring in natural snow for the ramp from the Kemerovo region (more than 3'500 km away from Moscow). One of the best Russian ski resorts - Sheregesh - is situated there. In one way or the other, the great alpine `Skiing Party' at Moscow will definitely take place in front of tens of thousands of spectators and many special guests.
For more information visit www.worldcupmoscow.com
La Sgambeda will again mark the start of the FIS Marathon Cup season this coming Sunday, 14th December 2008. La Sgambeda will also launch the cross-country ski marathon season in Central Europe as some 1000 competitors will test their early shape on the 42 km free technique course. The high altitude (1800m over sea level) will like pose one of the biggest challenges, partially made up by the beautiful surroundings around Lago di Livigno and along the so-called Small Tibet valley on the Italian side of the Swiss-Italian border.
Excellent conditions with 1meter (!) of snow are awaiting the skiers in Livigno. Among the more or less ambitious leisure skiers, a number of World Cup stars will also be at the start. They include Kristin Steira (NOR) who won last weekend's mass start race in La Clusaz along with Lada Nesterenko (UKR), Anders Aukland (NOR), Andrus Veerpalu and Jaak Mae (EST), to mention just a few.
La Sgambeda is the first of the ten ski marathons that belong to the 2008/2009 FIS Marathon Cup. The second race in this year's Cup is the Jizersk pades tka, scheduled for 11th January 2009. For more information on the FMC, please visit www.worldloppet.com ˙
On 12th December 2008 at 11:00 GMT, there will be a live announcement on the elected host for the 1st Youth Olympic Winter Games on the website of the International Olympic Committee, www.olympic.org. Two cities, listed below in alphabetical order, are still in the running to host the 1st Youth Winter Olympic Games in 2012:
Innsbruck (AUT), visit www.innsbruck2012.com for more
Kuopio (FIN), visit www.kuopio2012.fi for more
The Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) are a 10-day multi-sport, cultural and educational event for young people. The YOG is expected to add a new dimension to the Olympic ideal, complementing what is already being achieved through the Olympic Games. The YOG intends to bring together talented athletes to participate in high-level competitions and lead them on their way to becoming true Olympians.
|Stefan Hocke |
Photo: Horst Nilgen
|Whistler jumping hill|
Photo: Tourism BC
The winter season for the ladies' and men's Continental Cup tours in Ski Jumping is starting this week. While the men began competitive action at Rovaniemi (FIN) this Tuesday and Wednesday, the ladies will be competing on snow for the first time this season in Park City (USA) on 12th-13th December. The men will then move on to Vikersund (NOR) on the weekend while the ladies continue to Vancouver (CAN) where they will be testing out the new hills at the Whistler Olympic Park in Callaghan Valley on 17th-18th December.
Stefan Hocke of Germany claimed back-to-back victories in the first two competitions, both times ahead of teammate Pascal Bodmer who finished second. Altogether the men have 33 competitions scheduled until the finals in Kuusamo (FIN) at the end of March. The ladies calendar foresees 20 competitions with the finals in Sapporo (JPN)..
The Nordic Combined Continental Cup - formerly the World Cup B - will see its first competition coinciding with the ladies Ski Jumping COC in Vancouver's Whistler Olympic Park, offering the 2010 Olympic organizers a chance to also test their cross-country trails and operations before the World Cups take place there in January 2009.
After record numbers of nations have registered for the FIS Alpine and Nordic World Ski Championships 2009, the preliminary entries for the FIS Freestyle Championships 2009 in Inawashiro (JPN) also indicate a new record. By the initial deadline of 2nd December, a total of 342 athletes representing 32 nations had been registered - a record in terms of both participants and nations. Some of the first time nations planning to participate in the event include Hong Kong, Mongolia and Chinese Taipei. The most athletes have been entered to compete in moguls and ski cross, each showing an initial total of 184 athletes. The FIS Freestyle World Championships will take place from 2nd-8th March 2009. For more information, visit www.inawashiro2009.jp˙
Year 2008 has marked the centennial of three Nordic National Ski Associations - Norway, Finland and Sweden. As last of the three, Sweden is hosting a special celebration to commemorate its establishment on 11th December 1908. Smaller celebrations and activities have been taking place all around the country in connection with different ski events and competitions all year long. The festive occasion in Vr Grd in Saltsjbaden coincides with the Association's annual assembly held on Wednesday, which was also tasked with electing a new president after long-time President, FIS Council Member Carl Eric Stlberg˙decided to step down. The new president-elect is Mats Arjes, who is also President, Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board of Directors of SkiStar AB, Sweden's largest ski resort operating company and a former Secretary General of the Swedish Ski Association. Carl Eric Stlberg will continue to serve in the FIS Council.
With Joe Fitzgerald
As the last of the six˙major FIS World Cup tours, the Freestyle FIS World Cup is about to launch its 2008/2009 season. Joseph T. Fitzgerald, FIS Freestyle Coordinator, took a moment to share his thoughts before the competition season with the FIS Newsflash.
FIS Newsflash: What do you expect from this season?
Joe Fitzgerald: "I'm really looking forward to the season; there's been great enthusiasm by the organizers to improve their competitions with new facilities and upgraded venues. We have five new organizers and we have been working to make sure that everyone understands the procedures and teams' expectations. I expect a large number of nations to participate in the World Cup and there will be some good fights to reach the podium in the World Cup and at the Freestyle World Championships 2009 in Inawashiro (JPN)."
FIS Newsflash: Is there something particular this season?
Joe Fitzgerald: "The Freestyle FIS World Cup provides entry into the Olympic Winter Games and this process starts in the third week of January 2009. Many athletes will be trying to qualify for the World Championships at the same time. Every competition has significance as World Cup points are added up to determine the National Ski Association's quota spots for Vancouver 2010.
I think Inawashiro 2009 will be perhaps one of the most overwhelming events this season. The extremely dedicated organizing committee has been working on every detail under the sun. The preliminary entries from the National Ski Associations look very strong, predicting a new participant record.
City competitions have taken on a life of their own: we will be in Moscow for another aerial competition and Kiev (UKR) will be hosting such an event just one week later. The sites at these events are absolutely spectacular. There is significant TV interest and they clearly add value to the discipline. This is an exciting development and other cities may follow suit in the future.
The World Cup final will be held in La Plagne (FRA). There they have converted the slalom stadium into a mogul and ski cross venue. And the new, state-of-the-art half-pipe complex is in a main part of the ski resort which will be exciting and create a unique atmosphere."
FIS Newsflash: What is new for this season?
Joe Fitzgerald: "From a rules point of view everything is set for the last two seasons before the Olympic Games. We only had slight rule refinements such as introducing a reaction time in ski cross which should create interest in the qualification race.
FIS marketing, some National Ski Associations, Infront, and several broadcasters have cooperated to develop an Internet-based video news release. This was introduced last year and capturing these images has been established along with race coverage provided by Infront. Downstream distribution of the images to TV stations and Internet sites will be stabilized this year.
We are also trying to move into a digital process for competition organization by using different Internet resources such as the FIS wiki, geo-tagging site inspections and digitizing our competition slopes and courses. Once we get this together we can create a much better experience for organizers to take advantage of the knowledge we have collected in Freestyle and also expose more people to our brand of skiing with Internet-based distribution systems."
FIS Newsflash: How does the future look for Freestyle Skiing?
Joe Fitzgerald: "We have just finished off four years worth of calendar planning as requested by the Council and this represents a stable long-term situation. There appears to be a strong interest in the Freestyle FIS World Championships and possibly several nations bidding for 2015.
There is also a developing interest in digital content produced by freestyle skiers on the World Cup. We will continue to try to be innovative with our rules and the presentation of the sport. And, we are very encouraged by the development of the discipline much beyond its roots in North America and its second branch in Europe towards Eastern Europe, Asia and, I hope, to South America in the near future.
This spring will mark the 10th year in the process the FIS Freestyle Committee has undertaken to reinvent itself and the decisions that were taken four Congresses ago have shown to be the correct ones. Of course we need to continue to try to relate to the young skiers and provide them with opportunities to express themselves on skis on the snow."