Season's Greetings 

  Happy Holidays to all! ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

  Huge World Cup weekend before the Holidays ... more

  57th Four-Hills-Tournament promises great sport ... more

  Telemark World Cup season launches in France and Switzerland ... more

  Deadline for contributions to the virtual Olympic Congress extended ... more


 Inside FIS 

  New media accreditation deadline for Inawashiro 2009 ... more

  International Perspectives on Skiing: Part VII ... more


 Member News 

  Second edition of the Gulmarg Global Derby welcomes racers ... more


 In Depth 

  One month to go: Vars 2009 ... more


 Season's Greetings 

Happy Holidays to all!
Photo: Horst Nilgen
Photo: Horst Nilgen

Thanks to unusually heavy snowfalls in the region of Thun in the Bernese highlands, even the FIS Office in Oberhofen (SUI) received a heavy snow cover. With these wintry images, FIS wishes Happy Holidays and a successful new year 2009 to the worldwide ski family.

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 News from the World of Skiing 

Huge World Cup weekend before the Holidays
Bill Demong (USA)
Lara Gut (SUI)
Photo: Agence Zoom

A total of 25 FIS World Cup competitions were on the schedule during the past week. The last Viessmann FIS Cross-Country World Cup races before the FIS Tour de Ski took place in Dsseldorf (GER) where the season's third sprints showed that no matter which technique or what kind of a course, the winner's the same: as in Kuusamo (FIN) and Davos (SUI), the top spots went to Petra Majdic (SLO) and Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR). With her third victory, Majdic rose to second spot in the overall rankings as Finn Aino Kaisa Saarinen will be wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey for the Tour de Ski. On the men's side, Ola Vigen Hattestad's third victory also meant that he took over the leader's yellow bib from Swiss Dario Cologna. In Sunday's team sprint, the first of the season, the ladies' competition was won by Team Russia with Natalias Korosteleva and Matveeva and the men's by Team Norway with Hattestad and Tor Arne Hetland. The FIS Tour de Ski will commence in Oberhof (GER) on 27th December.

In Engelberg (SUI), it was time for the final FIS Ski Jumping World Cup competition before the Four-Hills-Tournament. Now more than ever, everything seems to be pointing toward a duel between Simon Ammann (SUI) and Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT) during the Tournament. The two shared the Engelberg victories with Ammann winning for the first time in front of his home audience on Saturday followed by Schlierenzauer in third. On Sunday, they switched places. Ammann continues to lead the overall FIS Ski Jumping World Cup rankings thanks to his four wins compared with Schlierenzauer's two in the seven season competitions so far.

Bill Demong (USA) had a stellar weekend as the DKB FIS Nordic Combined World Cup continued in Ramsau (AUT). After he won the first competition in dominating fashion ahead of Bjoern Kircheisen (GER), Demong was outsprinted by Kircheisen in a pulsating finish by 0.3 seconds on Sunday. The overall World Cup leader Anssi Koivuranta of Finland failed to make it into the top three for the first time this season, with 18th and 4th place finishes.

For the first time on Sunday, the provisional competition round in Ski Jumping was used after the jumping competition was cancelled due to wind and snow. The Nordic Combined World Cup now heads to Oberhof (GER) on 27th and 28th December.

The ladies' Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup continued in St. Moritz (SUI). The win in the season's first super combined went to Anja Paerson (SWE) who continued her successes in Engadin with many top results there over the years. After a program change, the super-G was carried out on Saturday with Swiss young star Lara Gut, with bib number 1, collecting her first World Cup victory on the same hill where she dramatically crashed through the finish and still came in third last year in a downhill. Teammate Fabienne Suter ensured a great team result for Switzerland as she skied into 2nd place, with another two Swiss in the top nine. On Sunday, the downhill had to be cancelled after two postponements due to the strong winds. Lindsey Vonn (USA) will be wearing the overall leader's bib when the ladies compete in Semmering (AUT) with two technical events this weekend. Some 50'000 spectators are expected.

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Ivica Kostelic (CRO)
Photo: Agence Zoom
Seth Wescott (USA)
Photo: Oliver Kraus/FIS

The Italian tour in the men's FIS Alpine World Cup began with super-G in Val Gardena on Friday. Werner Heel captured the first Italian win in seven years at the classical venue. In the Saslong downhill, Michael Walchhofer repeated his win from a year ago, which had also been the last downhill victory for the strong Austrian men's team. In 2nd place, Bode Miller (USA) returned to the podium which was completed by another North-American, Canadian Manuel Osborne-Paradis. Altogether there were 7 North Americans, 5 US Americans and 2 Canadians, in the top ten. As the teams moved to Alta Badia (ITA), Swiss Daniel Albrecht captured his second win this season in giant slalom on Sunday. Ivica Kostelic of Croatia, who was 12th after the first run, had a scintillating second run to claim second place, his career best giant slalom result. Kostelic continued his outstanding performances by winning in Alta Badia on Monday in the slalom, the replacement for the cancelled event in Val d'IsŠre, and claiming his first win in slalom in five years. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) leads the overall rankings with a margin of 37 points over Benni Raich (AUT) as the men move to Bormio for the New Year's downhill on 28th December.

The Freestyle FIS World Cup got underway in Meribel (FRA) last Thursday with a dual moguls event. The ladies event saw a final between two athletes celebrating comeback as Hannah Kearney (USA) beat Jennifer Heil (CAN). For the men it was an all Canadian final with the win going to Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau.

In the aerial opening in Changchun (CHN), the first competition day was plagued by high wins. The ladies competition was completed after one round resulting in an Australian double victory led by Lydia Lassila, but the men's competition had to be cancelled. The second competition day enjoyed dramatically improved conditions and three host nation athletes jumped to the podium with the ladies taking a double victory by Shanshan Zhao and Nina Li while Ke Li finished second in the men's event behind Alexei Grishin of Belarus.

The LG Snowboard FIS World Cup continued in Arosa (SUI). On Saturday, it was time for the season's second boarder cross. After Sandra Frei and Seth Wescott narrowly missed the World Championship titles in Arosa nearly two years ago, they secured World Cup victory on the same Carmenna course. Despite all of his international triumphs, Seth Wescott had never won a World Cup race before in 56 attempts. The entire event was held in continuing snowfall.

In Sunday's parallel slalom, Heidi Neururer and Sigi Grabner celebrated an Austrian double victory. The last victory for the 33-year-old Austrian veteran dated back almost exactly two years when he triumphed in Bad Gastein.

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57th Four-Hills-Tournament promises great sport
The Four-Hills are ready
Photo: 4Schanzentournee.com

In just a few days it is time for the traditional Ski Jumping season highlight: the 57th International Jack Wolfskin Four-Hills-Tournament will begin in Oberstdorf (GER) on 29th December, followed by the New Year's jumping in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER) on 1st January 2009, before the events in Innsbruck on 4th January and Bischofshofen (both AUT) on 6th January 2009. While the duel between Simon Ammann and Gregor Schlierenzauer is expected to continue, the Tournament has often seen the emergence of completely new names to the top positions.

Thanks to the early winter weather at the Tournament sites, this year's Four-Hills was confirmed as early as never before. "It was already in early December that we could go ahead and confirm the event," notes Tournament President Claus-Peter Horle (Oberstdorf). This was thanks to the cold night temperatures that allowed early snow production which also weathered the warm fronts passing over the German and Austrian Alps just before the Holidays.

Traditionally the winner of the Four-Hills-Tournament receives a car as prize for the overall victory. This year the winner will receive a brand-new Subaru Forester along with the cash prizes for World Cup event winners.

In spite of the promising pre-sales figures, tickets are available directly at the venues for most of the four competitions. A service called Print@home even allows spectators to print their tickets out at home before starting the journey to the hill. Special guests at the Four-Hills are expected from China as the organizers of the 24th Winter Universiade in Harbin will be visiting Oberstdorf as a study group collecting practical ideas and guidance. In Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the organizers are pleased to welcome a special VIP guest in Matthias Steiner, Olympic gold medalist in weightlifting and newly-elected German Athlete of the Year.

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Telemark World Cup season launches in France and Switzerland
Amelie Reymond (SUI)
Photo: Swiss Ski
Soevik & Rykhus (NOR)
Photo: NSF

The first two FIS Telemark World Cup events have taken place in the last ten days. The 2008/2009 Telemark season started in Les Houches (FRA) with a sprint and Ccassic races on 13th-14th December and continued in the 2007 Telemark World Championships venue of Thyon (SUI) with another classic and the season opening giant slalom competitions on 16th-18th December. After the first four events, the ladies' overall rankings are led by Swiss Amelie Reymond who finished second in both of the two competitions in France and won each competition on her home snow. With a total of 360 points, she has established a lead of 35 points over Sigrid Ryhus of Norway. In the men's rankings, last season's dominator Boerge Soevik (NOR) has again claimed the lead, with 300 points he is just 15 points ahead of Sweden's Mathias Wagenius. Another Norwegian, Eirik Rykhus who took last season off is back in the fight, sitting in 3rd position just 17 points behind Wagenius. All in all athletes from 14 nations have already scored World Cup points in the first four competitions.

The World Cup season will continue on 17th-18th January in Kobla (SLO) before the two long World Cup weekends in Norway, in Rjukan and Bjorli, in March. The season highlight will be presented by the FIS Telemark World Championships 2009 that will be staged in Kreischberg-Murau (AUT) from 21st-25th January 2009.

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Deadline for contributions to the virtual Olympic Congress extended

In response to a number of requests and to continue to encourage the flow of contributions the IOC has decided to extend the deadline for submissions to the virtual Olympic Congress. The new deadline is 28th February 2009. If you haven't made your contribution to the virtual Olympic Congress already, contribute today for a chance to win a trip to Copenhagen, site of the 2009 Olympic Congress. To register, click here.

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 Inside FIS 

New media accreditation deadline for Inawashiro 2009

Expecting a record participation, both in terms of number of nations and athletes, the organizers of the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships 2009 in Inawashiro (JPN) are pleased to announce that they have extended the deadline for requests for media accreditation. The new and final deadline is 31st January 2009. To access the media accreditation request, please click here

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

In the second to last part of the series, another three video interviews are available to offer "International Perspectives on Skiing". Conducted at the 46th International Ski Congress in Cape Town (RSA), these interviews feature Jouko T”rm„nen (FIN), Chair of the FIS Ski Jumping Committee, Klara Kaszo from the Hungarian Ski Association, and˙Wessel Bosman, the driving force behind promoting skiing in one of FIS's newest member nations, Lesotho, all of whom shared their thoughts on various aspects of our sport. Click here to view the videos.

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 Member News 

Second edition of the Gulmarg Global Derby welcomes racers
Mt Apharwat

The Winter Games Federation of India is calling for entries to the Gulmarg Global Derby 2009. The Himalayan resort of Gulmarg on the slopes of the Apharwat offers some of the longest ski slopes in Asia and its highest lift reaching up to the altitude of 3980m. The 2009 edition of the Gulmarg Global Derby is the second time the freestyle Alpine and Snowboarding downhill competition will be held. The competition is scheduled for 3rd March 2009, with entries due on 31st January. For more information, please contact the Winter Games Federation of India at wgfindia@yahoo.co.in or visit www.pinepalaceresort.com.

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 In Depth 

One month to go: Vars 2009

The FIS Speed Skiing World Championships 2009 will be held in Vars (FRA) from 17th to 24th January. With that event, Vars returns to the foreground of Speed Skiing activities. The 2009 FIS Championships follows on a `prologue' that took the form of a FIS World Cup stage during the season 2007/2008, from 29th January to 2nd February 2008.

The official opening ceremony will take place on Sunday, 18th January, kicking off a year of championships in France just some 12 days before the start of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2009 in Val d'IsŠre. About 15 nationalities (CZE, FRA, SUI, AUT, SWE, SPA, USA, GER, ITA, GBR to date) and the world's 70 fastest skiers are going to race on the ChabriŠres piste. Those expected to participate include 2007 world champion Simone Origone (ITA), fastest in the world since 2006, vice champion Philippe May (SUI) and 2007 bronze medalist Bastien Montes (FRA). Among the ladies, world champion Sanna Tidstrand (SWE) will defend her title against Tracie Sachs (USA) and Karine Dubouchet (FRA), just to mention a few of the challengers.

The ChabriŠres piste is 1220 m long with an altitude drop of 495 m and maximum slope of 98% (average slope 52.50%). Because of the specialist pistes required, Speed Skiing can only be practiced in a limited number of locations. The biennial FIS World Speed Ski Championships represent the pinnacle of competition for Speed Skiing athletes. The 2009 Championships brings the sport back center stage to Vars, one of its most influential and historic resorts, and a veritable cradle for Speed Skiing. Vars is one of the most formative locations for the sport, where many of the early trials were undertaken to perfect equipment and technique, and many personal or absolute records were set. The FIS Speed Skiing World Championships 2009 in Vars will be run up to the full homologated potential, weather and other safety factors permitting.

Pierre Eymeoud, mayor of Vars, is a strong supporter of the Championships: "Since my election in 1989, I have wished Vars to commit itself to the tremendous adventure of Speed Skiing. Due to evolution of the regulations and safety on the track in Vars, high speeds can now be reached at each competition. We await the great performances and emotions that will be seen here in January!"

For more information visit www.vars.com ˙

How to get there:
Vars is located some eight hours from Paris. The closest airport is Marseille. Another alternative is taking the train to Mont Dauphin-Guillestre station from where there is a shuttle service for the remaining 15km to the resort. From Grenoble it is 2.5 h via Gap or Brian‡on. Gap / Tallard is 1h15min away from the resort of Vars via the A51 motorway.

The reigning 2007 World Champions from Verbier (SUI):
Ladies: Sanna Tidstrand (SWE)
Men: Simone Origone (ITA)

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