News from the World of Skiing 

  Wolfgang Loitzl takes the Four-Hills ... more

  Kuitunen (FIN) and Cologna (SUI) - Queen and King of the Tour 2008/09 ... more

  From Schonach to Zagreb, St. Johann and Kreischberg ... more

  Russia hosts first inner City Alpine event ... more


 Inside FIS 

  President Kasper named honorary citizen of Cavalese ... more

  January 15th deadline for FIS Season Accreditation requests ... more


 Member News 

  First international sports medicine course to be held in Iran ... more


 In Depth 

  Two weeks to go: Kreischberg/Murau 2009 ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

Wolfgang Loitzl takes the Four-Hills
Four-Hills top three
Photo: NordicFocus
Wolfgang Loitzl (AUT)
Photo: NordicFocus

Wolfgang Loitzl became the first Austrian in a decade to win the traditional Four-Hills-Tournament, after he secured his third successive World Cup victory in Bischofshofen (AUT) on Tuesday. Loitzl, who turns 29 this month, had not won a World Cup competition before his victory in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER) last week. He then won at Innsbruck (AUT) on Sunday and Bischofshofen on Tuesday to follow in the footsteps of Andreas Widhoelzl who won the Tournament in 1999. Loitzl won in front of more than 25'000 fans gathered at the fourth and final event; this after almost 100'000 spectators had attended the first three events of the 2008/09 Four-Hills-Tournament.

Loitzl's perfect first jump in Bischofshofen received the highest possible marks from the jury (5 times 20 points), making him one of only three jumpers so far to have achieved that feat. Only Kazuyoshi Funaki (1998 in Nagano and Oberstdorf) and Toni Innauer (1976 in Oberstdorf) had reached the perfect score before Loitzl. In the second round, Loitzl received four times the highest score of 20.

The Tournament runner-up was Simon Ammann of Switzerland, one of the main favorites, who was still believed to have a chance to challenge Loitzl in the last competition despite the 16 point advantage for the Austrian. In the end, Loitzl posted the best jumps in both rounds, winning by a margin of more than 32 points. The other main favorite, Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT), took third.

Even with his second place finish in the Tournament rankings, Ammann stays on top of the overall World Cup standings with 877 points, followed by Schlierenzauer with 740 and Loitzl with 739. The World Cup circuit continues on the Kulm Ski Flying hill in Bad Mitterndorf/Tauplitz (AUT), the home town of Wolfgang Loitzl, this weekend.

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Kuitunen (FIN) and Cologna (SUI) - Queen and King of the Tour 2008/09
Dario Cologna (SUI)
Photo: NordicFocus
Virpi Kuitunen (FIN)
Photo: NordicFocus

The third edition of the Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski performance by Craft Sportswear concluded in Val di Fiemme (ITA)˙on Sunday. After seven competitions at four venues in three countries, the ones to first cross the finish line on Alpe Cermis were Virpi Kuitunen (FIN) for the ladies and Dario Cologna (SUI) for the men.

A total of four ladies wore the red leader's jersey during the Tour de Ski, starting with prologue winner Claudia Nystad (GER; 16th in final rankings), two-time sprint winner Arianna Follis (ITA; 8th) and World Cup leader Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN), who posed the greatest challenge to her teammate Kuitunen in the final meters of the nine-day event. Thanks to the bonus seconds she collected in the mass start race on Saturday, Kuitunen started the final Stage with a lead of 31 seconds over Saarinen and 49 seconds ahead of Petra Majdic (SLO). The two pursuing skiers worked together on the flat part of the approach to Alpe Cermis and caught up with Kuitunen about half-way up the ascent. With Majdic falling behind, Saarinen overtook Kuitunen and it seemed that, as was the case in the previous year, she would lose the victory in the final kilometer. This time, however, Kuitunen came back, passing Saarinen and taking the Tour de Ski title, her second, with a margin of 7.2 seconds over Saarinen. Petra Majdic finished third, and also won the Tour Sprint ranking after collecting 148 bonus seconds during the Tour.

In the men's competition, the season's shining light Dario Cologna had captured the leader's bib after the second Stage in Oberhof (GER) and never relinquished it until the top of Alpe Cermis where he celebrated an uncontested victory. The organizers had developed a special spectator program, called the Tour de Gusto, that saw stations offering them local specialties for the Final Climb that brought close to 20'000 spectators on the hill creating a unique and fantastic atmosphere, including many carrying Swiss flags thanks to the proximity to Cologna's home region in the canton of Grisons. Axel Teichmann may have won three of the Stages (Prologue, Stages Four and Six) but was never a real challenge to the Swiss all-rounder who scored ranks 2nd, 6th, 8th, 15th, 5th, 4th and 23rd in the Tour Stages. In the end, his winning margin was 59 seconds over another youngster Petter Northug (NOR) who sprinted past Teichmann just a few hundred meters before the finish. The men's Tour Sprint ranking went to Tor Arne Hetland (NOR) who finished 43rd overall. Team Norway was best in the Tour Team standings, 5.5 minutes ahead of Finland.

After the Tour, Aino Kaisa Saarinen continues to lead the World Cup rankings, now 71 points ahead of Kuitunen who has collected 907 points. In terms of prize money, Kuitunen leads the rankings thanks to the CHF 157'750 that she netted on the Tour, helping her to the total of CHF 189'750.

For the men, Dario Cologna has solidly established himself in the lead of the overall World Cup standings. With 835 points he leads by 137 points over Petter Northug. Besides many World Cup points, Cologna earned CHF 156'750 on the Tour.

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From Schonach to Zagreb, St. Johann and Kreischberg
Jean-Baptiste Grange (FRA)
Photo: Agence Zoom
Maria Riesch (GER)
Photo: Agence Zoom

The traditional "Schwarzwaldpokal" in the Black Forest resort of Schonach (GER) again wrote history in Nordic Combined. On Day One, Germany won the team competition ahead of Norway and Austria. In front of 5'000 spectators, Georg Hettich, Eric Frenzel, Bjoern Kircheisen and Tino Edelmann ended a year-long winning streak by Team Finland and took the top spot for the first time since 1986.

On Day Two, overall World Cup leader Anssi Koivuranta (FIN) together with Bill Demong (USA), Bjoern Kircheisen (GER) and others gave life to great sport. Koivuranta, who led already after the ski jumping session, saved a 6.7 second lead to the finish line and took his fourth season victory. The DKB FIS Nordic Combined World Cup is in Val di Fiemme (ITA) this weekend.

In Zagreb (CRO), Germany's Maria Riesch demonstrated that she is not only the new Snow Queen, the title bestowed on the winner of the race, but she also nailed a slalom hat trick with her victory on Sunday. In what has been developed by the Organizing Committee into arguably the most important sporting event in Croatia and one of the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup's highest profile events, Riesch flew down the course for her third straight slalom win and lead in the slalom and overall rankings. First run leader Lindsey Vonn (USA) failed to finish while Italian Nicole Gius landed in second position for her best World Cup slalom result to date.

As of Tuesday night, Jean-Baptiste Grange (FRA)˙can also lay claim to the Snow Queen Trophy, much to the chagrin of home favorite Ivica Kostelic and thousands of his staunchest supporters. However, the more than 20'000 notoriously patriotic fans showed real sportsmanship by cheering for all the slalom racers including Grange who outsped Kostelic for the win in the men's race by a narrow 0.05 of a second margin. Kostelic took second also a year ago in the men's debut slalom event in his home city. In third was Italian Giuliano Razzoli who scored his first World Cup podium.

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Ski cross season started
Photo: OC St. Johann
Simon Schoch (SUI) returns to winning
Photo: Oliver Kraus/FIS

It was a spectacular opening to the ski cross season of the FIS Freestyle World Cup in Oberndorf/St Johann (AUT) on Monday night, 5th January 2009. 4'000 fans saw 24-year-old Michael Schmid from Switzerland and 22-year-old Marion Josserand from France take their maiden wins in the opening competitions of the season. The 767-meter-long water injected track was full of changes posing a true challenge to the skier's technical skills.

In the ladies competition, the defending champion Ophelie David (FRA) was leading in the last round until her ski released in the specially designed `negative turn' (fall way slope) and Josserand, who was out all last season with an injury, passed her moving into the lead and victory. Schmid beat Andreas Matt of Austria (brother of Mario Matt) in the final for his first World Cup title. The Freestyle FIS World Cup continues with two stops in France in the next five days.

With the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup returning to action after the Holidays, the first of two parallel races in Kreischberg (AUT) wrapped up with a double victory for host country Austria. In the season's second PGS, World Cup leaders Doris Guenther and Siegfried Grabner extended their lead in the race for the crystal globe. In the ladies' final, Guenther successfully competed against Japan's Tomoka Takeuchi who celebrated her career's best World Cup result. On the men's side, Grabner beat reigning parallel slalom world champion Simon Schoch (SUI) in the men's final. In the parallel slalom on Wednesday, Germany's Amelie Kober returned to the podium for the first time since October 2007 when she won in Landgraaf (NED). In the men's race, Simon Schoch, who has been fighting with various injuries, took his first victory since January 2007. On Tuesday, Swede Daniel Biveson became the first man in the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup to start in 200 World Cup competitions.

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Russia hosts first inner City Alpine event
Record ramp in Moscow

Germany's Felix Neureuther went head to head against Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Grange to win a parallel slalom at the FIS Alpine World Cup Promotional Event in Moscow (RUS)˙on Friday, which brought him USD 30'000 in prize money. Reigning World Cup overall champion Bode Miller (USA) edged giant slalom champion Ted Ligety (USA) in the small final to finish third.

Organizers estimated over 25,000 people attended the event held on a specially constructed ramp towering 56 meters over the heart of the Russian capital. The fourteen-gate, head-to-head slalom was held set on a course nearly 150 meter long and just short of 30 meters wide. The ramp was covered with snow that was brought in from Siberia specifically for the competition.

Fourteen of the top slalom athletes on the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup and two local Russian athletes were invited to the promotional event designed to raise awareness for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. After a tour of the Kremlin, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin joined the athletes for lunch prior to the race and then invited the competitors to fly with him and President Dmitry Medvedev to Sochi on Saturday for a morning of skiing and lunch. The athletes then continued on the prime minister's jet to Zagreb (CRO) for the next World Cup event.

The FIS Alpine World Cup fan site at www.fisalpineworldcup.com offers on demand streaming of the Moscow race for those that could not watch it live!

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 Inside FIS 

President Kasper named honorary citizen of Cavalese
Mayor Cappelletto & President Kasper
Photo: Newspower.it

On the occasion of the final two stages of the 3rd Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski performance by Craft Sportswear, FIS President Gian Franco Kasper was awarded the honorary citizenship of Cavalese by Mayor of Cavalese, Walter Cappelletto. President Kasper was recognized for the great support he has given to skiing, Cavalese and the Fiemme valley over the years.

"I have always loved Val di Fiemme and try to return every time I can. I feel privileged to be named a honorary citizen of Cavalese," President Kasper stated. "As long as sport is concerned, I think the best Tour de Ski images were broadcast from Val di Fiemme, so I really want to highlight the efforts of the local organizing committee. I just hope I won't have to pay taxes in Cavalese now as well." Kasper added jokingly.

On the same evening, FIS also honored Steffen Lunkenheimer with the special FIS award for TV experts, presented by FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis. Lunkenheimer, responsible editor for sports at Bayerischer Rundfunk/ARD, follows Rolf Rustad and Odd Kaldevoss from NRK as well as Norbert Thielmann from ZDF as recipient of this precious award.

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January 15th deadline for FIS Season Accreditation requests

The online registration for FIS Season Accreditations 2008/09 will be closed on 15th January 2009. The FIS Season Accreditation 2008/09 is intended for persons who need regular access to the FIS World Cup events within the confines of the competition area or any other restricted location connected with the events to work at or attend the events in professional capacity. For more information or to submit a request, please click here.

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 Member News 

First international sports medicine course to be held in Iran
Iranian ski resorts reach altitudes over 3000 m

The Ski Association of Iran is organizing the first ever international ski sports medicine course in Iran from 20th-23rd January 2009. Taking place after six domestic seminars, the course will be held in Tehran and will focus on treating various ski trauma, rehabilitation programs and dietary supplements, among other topics. Professor Anton Wicker from the FIS Medical Committee will attend and present during the course. For more information about the course, visit www.skifed.ir or e-mail office@skifed.ir to the attention of Dr. Hossein Tavoosi, course director.

Participants will also receive five-day ski tickets to go test one of Iranian ski areas. For example, the Shemshak ski area is located just 57 kilometers north-east of Tehran while Dizin is situated on the north mountains of Tehran in the Gajereh region, 71 kilometers from Shemshak. Both areas are located at altitudes above 2500m above the sea level.

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 In Depth 

Two weeks to go: Kreischberg/Murau 2009
Eirik Rykhus won three golds in 2007

Athletes representing more than 20 nations will be participating in the FIS Telemark World Championships 2009 in Kreischberg/Murau (AUT) from 21st to 24th January. After Kreischberg organized the 5th FIS Snowboard World Championships in 2003, and has hosted two ski cross and four Snowboard World Cups including the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup parallel events this week, the organizing committee consisting of the experienced teams from "Sportunion Kreischberg", "Kreisch Indios" and "Kreischberg Seilbahnen" is looking forward to another challenge. All in all, about 150 volunteers will be engaged in staging these championships.

The Telemark giant slalom title competitions are scheduled for the opening day, Wednesday 21st January, with the Telemark classic events following on Thursday and the classic sprint competitions on Saturday 24th January. All competitions will take place on the so-called world championship slope close to the lift station. This means that all participants, officials, media and spectators will have short distances between hotels, slopes and the finish area. And as a further bonus, there will be free entrance to all races!

How to get there: Kreischberg/Murau is located in the upper part of the state of Styria in the southeast of Austria. It is situated about 85 km from Klagenfurt, about 30km from Graz, 155 km from Salzburg and a bit more than 250km from Vienna..

For more information, visit www.kreischberg.at

Defending champions from Thyon (SUI) 2007

Ladies
Sprint: Sigrid Rykhus (NOR)
Classic: Amelie Reymond (SUI)
Giant Slalom: Katinka Knudsen (NOR)

Men
Sprint: Eirik Rykhus (NOR)
Classic: Eirik Rykhus (NOR)
Giant Slalom: Eirik Rykhus (NOR)

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