News from the World of Skiing 

  January World Cup action in Central Europe ... more

  Gian Franco Kasper to chair Coordination Commission for first Winter Youth Olympic Games ... more

  Whistler Olympic Park gets its first true test ... more

  Andreas Wenzel new Managing Director of Right To Play Switzerland ... more

 Inside FIS 

  FIS World Championship winter begins: 3 days until official opening of Gangwon 2009 ... more

  Looking good for Liberec 2009 ... more

  Longines the official timekeeper at the 2009 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships ... more

  Developing skiing in Bolivia: Chacaltaya ... more

 News from the World of Skiing 

January World Cup action in Central Europe
Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT)
Photo: NordicFocus
Reinfried Herbst (AUT)
Photo: Agence Zoom

After the Four-Hills-Tournament, the first Ski Flying events were on the schedule in the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup where a small crystal globe will again be awarded for the best ski flyer at the end of the season. The 2008 FIS Ski Flying world champion, 19-year-old Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT) flew the furthest in both competitions on the Kulm Ski Flying hill in Bad Mitterndorf/Tauplitz (AUT) last weekend. On Saturday he set the new hill record of 215.5 meters in the second round, appropriately celebrated by the huge crowd of tens of thousands of people. With consistently long leaps, the teenager cut Swiss Simon Ammann's World Cup lead to just 77 points . The World Cup now moves on to Zakopane in Poland from 15th January.

The DKB FIS Nordic Combined World Cup continued in Val di Fiemme (ITA). On Saturday, Germany's Bjoern Kircheisen won the only mass start competition before the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2009. One day later, Magnus Moan (NOR) celebrated his 10th World Cup victory in his 100th appearance. With a well balanced jump and solid ten kilometers of cross-country racing, he dominated the podium and was joined by his teammate Jan Schmid who had been 3rd the day before. For Pavel Churavy, a Liberec (CZE) native, 3rd place on Sunday was his 2nd career podium. In the overall World Cup, Anssi Koivuranta (FIN), sidelined due to illness last weekend, remains on top with 643 points, but his margin was halved as Magnus Moan now trails by just 87 points.

The Swiss tour of the men's Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup began with an outstanding ski festival in Adelboden (SUI). A total of 37'000 ski fans gathered to watch the two technical events held in bright sunshine and great conditions. On Saturday, Austrian Benjamin Raich scored his 3rd giant slalom win in Adelboden after being the best in 2006 and 2007. He became the 2nd Austrian after Hermann Maier to win three times on the Chuenisbergli. Behind Raich, Kjetil Jansrud of Norway in 3rd recorded his first career podium by coming from 14th after first run while Swiss Sandro Viletta skied to 4th with bib number 53 and first run 24th place. On Sunday, in the slalom, the Swiss crowd kept cheering on all the racers despite all of their own missing the 2nd run, with the Austrians taking a double victory led by Reinfried Herbst posting his season best and Manfred Pranger making a delightful comeback to podium after a long injury break. Raich leads the overall World Cup as the men go into the classic event at Wengen in the traditional Lauberhorn races this week.


Tina Maze (SLO)
Photo: Agence Zoom
Men's ski cross final in Flaine (FRA)
Photo: Agence Zoom

The ladies' Alpine tour stopped in Maribor (SLO) where home girl Tina Maze gave the crowd much joy by taking her seventh career World Cup victory ahead of Italy's Denise Karbon. Sitting second behind Karbon by 0.09 second after the first run, Maze leveraged a home turf advantage to win following a dazzling second leg. She last struck a win in GS in 2005 at the Soelden season opener. On Sunday, Germany's Maria Riesch maintained her domination of the slalom World Cup as she won her fourth straight race. In fact she destroyed the field with 2nd placed Austrian Kathrin Zettel already 1.15 seconds back. Riesch is also solidly in the lead of the overall World Cup as the ladies continue with a series of speed races in Zauchensee (AUT) this week.

The ski cross Freestyle FIS World Cup is on its French tour with stops in Les Contamines and Flaine. In Les Contamines (FRA) on Saturday, another two first-time World Cup winners could celebrated this achievement: 32-year-old Hedda Berntsen (NOR), slalom bronze medallist at the FIS Alpine World Championships in St. Anton 2001 and 26-year-old Andreas Matt (AUT), brother of Mario Matt, the 2007 slalom world champion. Berntsen beat reigning overall and ski cross World Cup champion Ophelie David of France while Matt won over Christopher Delbosco (CAN). In Flaine on Wednesday, it was again time for the seasoned ski crossers Ophelie David and Tomas Kraus (CZE) to show their skills. After three of ten competitions, David leads the ladies' standings ahead of Berntsen and Matt the men's rankings ahead of Kraus.

The Freestyle half-pipe World Cup season got underway in Les Contamines on Sunday, 11th January, In the ladies' competition, held at night, Virginie Faivre brought the first-ever Freestyle half-pipe World Cup victory for Switzerland while Xavier Bertoni of France was best in the men's competition before the home crowd.


Gian Franco Kasper to chair Coordination Commission for first Winter Youth Olympic Games
Gian Franco Kasper
Photo: AFP

A month after the election of Innsbruck as the host city of the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012, the IOC President Jacques Rogge announced the appointment of FIS President Gian Franco Kasper, an IOC member, as the Chairman of the Coordination Commission for the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games. The Coordination Commission comprises the group of representatives from the IOC and the Olympic Movement who will be monitoring the Youth Olympic Games preparations and guiding the Innsbruck Organizing Committee over the next three years.

President Kasper has great experience of Games coordination as a member of the Coordination Commissions for the XIX Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City in 2002 (1999-2002), XX Olympic Winter Games in Turin in 2006 (2000-2006), XXI Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010 (since 2003) and the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi in 2014 (since 2007).

Gian Franco Kasper is accompanying IOC President Jacques Rogge in the first official visit to Innsbruck on 14th-15th January. He commented from Innsbruck: "I am delighted about my nomination to guide the Coordination Commission for the first Winter Youth Olympic Games. I hope to complete this task successfully and in great cooperation with the Austrian organizers while fulfilling the goals of the Olympic Movement. The Youth Olympic Games are yet another piece nicely fitting into the FIS campaign of Bring Children to the Snow."

The competitions in 2012 will be staged in the communities of Innsbruck and Seefeld. The next meeting with the organizers will be at the end of March and might include the full Coordination Commission that has yet to be named.


Whistler Olympic Park gets its first true test
Whistler Olympic Park
2010 Olympic hills

The Viessmann FIS Cross-Country World Cup and the DKB FIS Nordic Combined World Cups are visiting Vancouver (CAN)˙this week. These World Cup competitions in Whistler Olympic Park represent the first three of 16 sport events in 2009 that the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) will use to test its operational readiness for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Teams from a total of 21 countries will be participating in the first real test of the brand-new competition facilities in Whistler Olympic Park. Eleven Nordic combined teams totaling about 50 athletes and 47 support staff as well as 17 cross-country teams totaling about 230 athletes started arriving last week. Some 100 athletes and support staff will also be on hand as the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup competitions are held in the Park in a week's time.

The competitions will open with the Cross-Country sprint competitions and Nordic Combined on Friday, 16th January, with the Cross-Country pursuit and another Nordic Combined event following on Saturday and team sprint competitions on Sunday.
VANOC's testing will focus primarily on two areas: athletes' competition areas (the field of play), and overall venue operations including athlete arrivals/departures, training, and competition and workforce operations.

The˙FIS Nordic World Cups˙are the first sport events of the 2009 season. The first Olympic test event was the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup held last February at Whistler Creekside.


Andreas Wenzel new Managing Director of Right To Play Switzerland
Andreas Wenzel
Photo: Right To Play

Former world champion, Olympic medalist and overall World Cup champion Andreas Wenzel, also President of the Liechtenstein Ski Association, has been named Managing Director of Right To Play Switzerland. Previously engaged as one of the numerous Athlete Ambassadors from the world of skiing, Andreas Wenzel will be leading the humanitarian organization's activities in Switzerland and in skiing especially using his contacts to current and potential sponsors. Right To Play has partnered with FIS since 2005 to promote its activities which include involvement at various FIS World Cup events, the FIS World Ski Championships and at Worldloppet events. For more information, click here.


 Inside FIS 

FIS World Championship winter begins: 3 days until official opening of Gangwon 2009
Hyundai Sungwoo Resort

Final preparations for the 2009 FIS Gangwon Snowboard World Championships˙presented by LG are in full swing in Gangwon, one of the most important of winter sports areas in Asia. 614 riders from 45 countries have been entered to compete in the first FIS Snowboard World Championships ever held in Asia, scheduled from 15th to 24th January at Hyundai Sungwoo Resort in Gangwon Province. The first medal event will be snowboard cross for ladies and men, on 18th January, followed by the parallel (PGS, PSL) and freestyle events (HP, BA; men only). For the first time, there will be online streaming available from all the championship competitions on every competition day starting at 9 GMT/10 CET.

The official opening ceremony will take place in the Hyundai Sungwoo Resort's Grand Ballroom on 17th January. FIS President Gian Franco Kasper will officially open the event in the presence of Jin-sun Kim, Governor of Gangwon Province and several international ambassadors to Korea. The opening ceremony will include a Korean traditional percussion performance, and music concerts by Korean popular singers, 2PM and Brown Eyed Girls, along with other performances.

The Organizing Committee has built a special athletes village for the competitors. The teams have been arriving since 12th January including all the reigning champions from the 2007 championships, held in Arosa (SUI), who will be on site to defend their crowns.

The freestyle teams will be heading over from the final pre-championships LG Snowboard FIS World Cup event, ladies' and men's half-pipe competitions, in Gujo (JPN) today, Wednesday 14th January. Boding well for a good showing on home snow, the Asian riders claimed five of the six podium spots: Jiayu Liu (CHN) and Ryoh Aono (JPN) secured the wins and also took over the lead in the half-pipe World Cup lead. With Zhifeng Sun in 2nd place, the Chinese ladies celebrated a Chinese double victory with Japanese Soko Yamoka in 3rd place. On the men's side, Aono delivered a strong 2nd run to steal the victory from Ben Mates (AUS) who delivered his career best result in second. Wancheng Shi of China rounded out the podium for another Asian podium finish.


Looking good for Liberec 2009
Vesec Cross-Country venue
Photo: OC Liberec 2009
View to Jested
Photo: OC Liberec 2009

There are 35 days remaining until the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Liberec (CZE) as of today. The team at the Cross-Country competition venue Vesec is busy preparing for the upcoming championship. In addition to snow production, the Liberec 2009 organizing committee is focused on the final preparation of the venue facilities.

Thanks to wintry temperatures, snow production in Vesec has continued at full speed throughout the last week, using between 20 and 27 guns and 2 lances. Approximately 50.000 cubic meters of snow have been produced. The area is getting ready to host Slavic Cup races, a Cross-Country Continental Cup series for the region around the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, on 17th-18th January. The grooming of the Slavic Cup (SC) tracks began last week. These tracks are now ready and will be widened and maintained on a regular basis.

Preparations at the Jested Ski Jumping venue area are also running at full speed. The venue is covered with snow. The main grand stand is complete and the team has been constantly working on the two hills and their shaping. The large hill has been closed and the small one is designated for ski jumpers and Nordic Combined athlete for their training. As of next week additional facilities will be built such as audience stairs on the side of the hill, mobile containers for the athletes and their service teams will be brought tent and a huge tent will be set for spectator catering.


Longines the official timekeeper at the 2009 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships
Longines ambassador Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR)
Photo: Longines

Longines has announced that it will serve as the Official Timekeeper and Sponsor of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2009˙in Val d'IsŠre (FRA). The official timing and data partner for the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup since 2007, Longines thus confirms its membership in the "inner circle" of Alpine ski racing.

The Swiss watchmaker Longines can look back on more than 175 years of non-stop craftsmanship and a solid heritage as timekeeper for world championships in various sports and collaborator with different international sports federations. Longines is a member of the Swatch Group Ltd. With the winged hourglass as its emblem, the brand has outlets in over 130 countries.

Longines Ambassador Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) will defend two world champion titles from Are 2007. After his dramatic fall in Beaver Creek the Norwegian skier has achieved a great comeback by already reaching his aim for the season: "to be one of the best skiers in the world again". He has proven to have nerves of steel by beating his opponents exactly one year after his accident at the˙very same place.


Developing skiing in Bolivia: Chacaltaya
Glacier melting
Photo: Josef Zenh„usern
Photo: Josef Zenh„usern

Chacaltaya, a glacial mountain range about 30 km from La Paz near Huayna Potosi mountain with a view of Lake Titicaca in the distance, was still the highest ski resort in the world some ten years ago. The resort at an altitude of 5300m initially had one lift that was operated with an old car motor. Chacaltaya is also one of the first glacial ranges to decrease markedly in size. Over 80% of it has melted since 1987 and only a small patch of snow is left from the former, well-liked ski resort.

The Bolivian Ski Association is currently in the process of assessing whether the historically important ski resort could be kept alive with the help of a small lift and a snow-making system. Josef Zenh„usern, Consultant for the FIS Aid & Promotion program visited Bolivia in December to discuss the opportunities for developing winter sports together with the Bolivian Ski Association. The development plans are dependent on the limited financial resources of the Association. Following a meeting with the Minister for Sport and Health, the state of Bolivia might be able to support the plans with help on a project basis, such as by providing power and/or water for the snow-making system.