News from the World of Skiing 

  FIS Snowboard Worlds underway in Korea ... more

  First Telemark world champions crowned in Kreischberg-Murau (AUT) ... more

  Praise for an Olympic venue: Successful first sport events held in Whistler Olympic Park ... more

  Alpine in Europe, Freestyle in USA ... more

  Ladies Ski Jumping Continental Cup in mid-season ... more


 Inside FIS 

  Great side event program awaits visitors at Val d'Isre 2009 ... more


 In Depth  

  One month to go: Liberec 2009 ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

FIS Snowboard Worlds underway in Korea
Benjamin Karl (AUT)
Photo: Zoom

It has been a great 2009 FIS Snowboard World Championships in Gangwon (KOR) for Austria and Switzerland so far. After six of the nine medal events have been concluded, Austria has collected three gold medals and two silver medals while Switzerland has secured one gold, one silver and two bronze medals, all by its ladies team, fulfilling even the greatest expectations after a mediocre beginning to the season on the World Cup circuit.

The first champions to be crowned - in SBX - were Helene Olafsen (NOR) and Markus Schairer (AUT). The 18-year-old young star Olafsen, bronze medalist in 2007, celebrated start-to-finish triumph in the ladies final ahead of Switzerland's Olivia Nobs and Mellie Francon. On the men's side, 2007 world champion Xavier Delerue (FRA) was leading the pack of four riders all the way down until making a mistake on the last jump when Schairer took advantage and edged him into second spot in a dramatic finish-line push by just one centimeter which could only be determined by a photo finish. Nick Baumgartner (USA) rounded out the podium.

In the first parallel race, the parallel giant slalom, it was Marion Kreiner (AUT) who successfully competed against her teammate Doris Guenther taking her first ever title after winning silver two years ago. In the battle for third, Patrizia Kummer (SUI) surprised by grabbing the bronze.

On the men's side, it was time again for the 2003 double world champion, Jasey Jay Anderson. After Sylvain Dufour (FRA), Matthew Morison took another medal for Canada finishing third.

In parallel slalom, the titles went to Fraenzi Maegert-Kohli (SUI) and Benjamin Karl (AUT). Doris Guenther (AUT) claimed already her second silver. Ekaterina Tudegesheva (RUS), the 2007 PGS world champion, completed the podium. In an impressive comeback from a six-week injury, Karl took his first FIS World Championship title by beating Dufour, another two-time silver medalist, in the final. Patrick Bussler secured Germany's first medal by taking the bronze.

The first ever FIS Snowboard World Championships in Asia will continue with half-pipe and big air competitions on Friday and Saturday. Free online streaming of the competitions is always available at 9 GMT at www.fissnowboardworldchampionships.com

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First Telemark world champions crowned in Kreischberg-Murau (AUT)
Podium men
Photo: OC Kreischberg

The Telemark FIS World Championships 2009 got underway in Kreischberg-Murau (AUT) today Wednesday 21st January with the Telemark giant slalom races. In good snow yet somewhat changing light conditions the Norwegian Eirik Rykhus was able to defend his 2007 over last season's dominator Borge Sovik. Frenchman Chris Lau claimed the bronze medal.

In the ladies' competition the Swiss celebrated a double victory as Amelie Reymond collected the title ahead of teammate Sandrine Meyer while Sigrid Rykhus won the bronze. The championship competitions will continue with the Telemark classic events on Thursday and the classic sprint competitions on Saturday 24th January.

Click here to see all races live.

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Praise for an Olympic venue: Successful first sport events held in Whistler Olympic Park
Beautiful Whistler Olympic Park
Photo: Nordic Focus
Happy Magnus Moan (NOR)
Photo: Nordic Focus

If you win two out of two ski jumping competitions, then you easily can fall in love with a hill. From this point of view, it is easy to understand Nordic Combined overall World Cup leader Anssi Koivuranta (FIN): "This hill is perfect. It's modern, it's nice to jump - I love it." But he's not alone. Austria's Mario Stecher, one of the old stars in the Nordic Combined scene, who has seen almost all jumping hills of the world, added: "This hill could become my favorite one ..." Daito Takahashi from Japan, Bill Demong (USA), winner of the first World Cup competition on Friday, or Jason Lamy Chappuis from France agreed, too. The new hill in Whistler Olympic Park, the venue for the 2010 Olympic Nordic events, is comparable to the hill in Pragelato where the 2006 Olympic Games were held, it seems small but is majestic at the same time, and by being in the middle of woods minimizes trouble with the wind. "They have done a very great job, I'm already looking forward to next year's Olympics", Demong said.

The Nordic Combined athletes, also felt well on their 2.5 km lap with two hard uphills to climb. "The profile is nice", Germany's top skier Bjoern Kircheisen said. "It was exciting to run in front of a large crowd", Norway's Magnus Moan added. "I felt like running at home, with all these supporters from Norway." No wonder he went on to take his fourth season victory in the second competition on Saturday.

Besides the Nordic Combined athletes testing the Olympic venue, three days of the Viessmann FIS Cross-Country World Cup were carried out as a test for the Cross-Country teams, local organizer and FIS. Under sunny and blue skies, the number of spectators was one of the most pleasant surprises during a well-organized World Cup weekend. Some 6000 excited sport fans were counted on every day.

On the challenging classical sprint course, Alena Prochazkova (SVK) took her first World Cup win while on the men's side Emil Joensson (SWE) took the honors. During Saturday's pursuit race, TV viewers all over the world got the first taste of the amazing scenery in Callaghan Valley. The Olympic courses seemed to suit Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) and Pietro Piller Cottrer (ITA) best as both emerged with victories. The test weekend was concluded by a team sprint where Magda Genuin and Arianna Follis took the ladies' top spot for Italy and Swedes Emil Joensson/Robin Bryntesson finished first on the men's side. The biggest surprise was posted by the home team; George Grey and Alex Harvey from Team Canada II pushed hard and finished in third place. "This is where we want to be for the Olympics. This is a stepping stone so we did it," stated Grey after the race."

All in all, the representatives of FIS were highly satisfied with the pre-Olympic World Cups: "This venue is designed for the future and I am very happy with what I've seen from the tests we've done over the last three days," said Vegard Ulvang, Chairman of the FIS Cross-Country Committee who was present during the entire event. 

The Whistler test events will continue with two FIS Ski Jumping World Cup competitions this coming weekend.

Contributed by Egon Theiner & Sandra Spitz

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Alpine in Europe, Freestyle in USA
Carlo Janka (SUI)
Photo: Zoom
Alla Tsuper (BLR)
Photo: Mike Ridewood

With the ladies‘ Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup continuing in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee (AUT), Lindsey Vonn (USA) claimed her already third season win and second career win in a super combined. She recovered from a major mistake in the downhill portion to deliver a solid slalom performance to win ahead of Kathrin Zettel (AUT) and Anja Paerson (SWE) as season's slalom dominator Maria Riesch straddled a gate after being favorite having posted 3rd position in the downhill race. The super combined surprise was young Canadian Larisa Yurkiw who blew everyone away by posting the fastest downhill time.  The season's second downhill on Sunday saw Paerson sharing the win with Swiss Dominique Gisin who landed her first ever World Cup victory. Vonn who took third also took over the lead in the overall World Cup standings.

The ladies tour continues in Cortina d'Ampezzo (ITA) this week where continuing snowfall has forced some schedule changes. The super-G, scheduled for Thursday has been cancelled and replaced by a downhill training after the trainings set for Tuesday and Wednesday had to be cancelled. More information regarding super-G will be communicated on Thursday. Friday's and Saturday's downhill competitions, as well as Sunday's giant slalom will take place as scheduled.

At the men's traditional Lauberhorn races in Wengen (SUI) the Swiss took revenge after their poor performance on home slalom course in Adelboden. For the first time since 2003, Lauberhorn saw not just one but two Swiss winners. On Friday, new star Carlo Janka was back on top of the podium in super combined, an event that he apparently finds arduous since one must lug two types of skis up the mountain. Speed skier Peter Fill showed his skill with the short skis by taking 2nd, with Silvan Zurbriggen in 3rd adding to the Swiss joy. The Swiss celebrations continued on Saturday as the team delivered a stellar performance led by team veteran Didier Defago with five racers in the top 13. 2007 & 2008 winner Bode Miller took 2nd. In Sunday's slalom Team Austria was back with a vengeance after the poorest showing in a World Cup downhill since 1994. Only Ivica Kostelic (CRO) was able to prevent a four-fold victory by the red-whites, whilst for Manfred Pranger it was the first victory in four years. In excellent winter weather, 55'000 fans celebrated the best male ski racers in the Bernese Oberland over the weekend. The men are racing in Kitzbühel this week, where the program includes super-G, downhill, slalom and the traditional Kitzbühel combined.

Moving to North America, the Freestyle FIS World Cup in ski cross continues its rapid competition pace. In Lake Placid (USA), Lars Lewen of Sweden took his first win of the season, while Austria's Patrick Koller was second and World Cup leader, Tomas Kraus of the Czech Republic was third. For the ladies, the Lake Placid event was the first time for a field of 32 in the finals. In previous races, the finals were only open to 16. That did not change the winner as Ophelie David (FRA) took her second straight victory, this time ahead of Jenny Owens from Australia and teammate Meryl Boulangeat.

The aerials World Cup also continued in Lake Placid on Sunday. Jeret "Speedy" Peterson (USA) notched his seventh World Cup victory on his return from 18 months off competition. His last win came at Deer Valley two years ago where he won back-to-back aerial World Cups and set a record for the highest score received for his trick "the hurricane". Canadians Kyle Nissen and Warren Shouldice completed the podium. In the ladies competition the victory went to Alla Tsuper of Belarus ahead of Mengtao Xu of China and Emily Cook (USA).

 

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Ladies Ski Jumping Continental Cup in mid-season
Podium ladies in Schonach (GER)

The winter period of the Ladies Continental cup in Ski Jumping commenced in the middle of December and is now half-way. 9 of 19 Continental Cup competitions have already taken place and the mid-season balance can be seen as very positive.

After the kick-off of the series in the US and Canada before Christmas, the circus returned to Central Europe for competitions in Germany and today in Toblach, Italy. The mid-season ranking leader is Lindsey Van from the USA with a total of 482 points. Runner-up is Ulrike Graessler of Germany (463 points) ahead of her teammate Anna Haefele (441 points).

The most victories - three - so far this winter were collected by both Anna Haefele and the ‘veteran' Daniela Iraschko (AUT), who started her season after an injury break only in the New Year and immediately won three competitions in a row. There has been great change among the athletes in the top positions which is also shown in the overall ranking, where there are athletes from six nations among the top ten.

"We are really satisfied with the development of the ladies Continental Cup. So far we had no cancellations and were able to organize the highest number of competitions compared with the several past seasons. The ladies Continental Cup is now in its fifth season and we are happy that we are included in the program of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships this year. We are looking forward to Liberec 2009," stated Chika Yoshida, FIS Coordinator for the ladies Continental Cup.

The preparations for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships for the lady jumpers will take place at the upcoming Continental Cups in Slovenia, Poland and Norway. After Liberec 2009 the ladies will conclude their season in Japan with competitions in Zao and Sapporo. 

Contributed by Sandra Spitz

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 Inside FIS 

Great side event program awaits visitors at Val d'Isre 2009

OC Val d'Isre

It is just 12 days until the Opening Ceremony during which FIS President Gian Franco Kasper will declare the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2009 officially open on February 2nd. A show entitled "Pistes Royales" and the Transe Express company orchestra will follow the short official ceremony.

The great celebration of skiing will feature a great deal of music with numerous concerts by artists such as David Guetta, Jim Murple Memorial, CaravanPalace, Mellino/Négresses Vertes, Ana Popovic and Pep's, just to name just a few of the musical side events taking place.

Culture is also high on the list with guided tours organized in the resort to discover the local architectural history and conferences focused on the environment hosted by Nicolas Vanier for example. Also, evening events such as the Full Moon Burn will offer the opportunity to ski by moonlight in a trendy, hip atmosphere while pyrotechnical shows will illuminate the Snowfront with explosions of colors and sparkling shapes and forms.

There will be entertainment at the races themselves too with giant screens, DJs and lively commentators charged with creating a festive atmosphere during the competitions. Several former ski champions from France and abroad will be competing in a "Living Legends' Slalom" night race.

There will also be no lack of high caliber visitors, notably IOC President Jacques Rogge, among many others.

 

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 In Depth  

One month to go: Liberec 2009
Liberec (CZE)
Photo: Nordic Focus

In a month's time, from 18th February -1st of March, the 2009 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships will take place in the Bohemian city Liberec (CZE). After years of intensive preparations, Liberec is ready for its grand premiere and looking forward to the event.  The forthcoming FIS Nordic World Ski Championships will be the most prestigious sports event to have taken place in the history of the independent Czech Republic.

The FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2009 will be the first to welcome the female ski jumpers at the highest level of FIS competitions. The Nordic Combined mass start will also make its title event debut.. Altogether, 20 medal events are on schedule in Liberec, which is a new record in the history of FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. Of those, Cross-Country will count for twelve (six female and six male) events, and Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined each for four. Needless to say, the 2009 Championships promise to be a superb spectacle with plenty of vivid experiences in store for about 600 participants from 59 nations, also a new record!

The Organizing Committee for Liberec 2009 and the competition venues - Vesec for Cross-Country and Ještěd for Ski Jumping - are getting their fine tuning "The most important thing is that we have enough snow - about 70 cm. In these days, we are preparing the trails in Vesec. The Czech representation already tested it and they were satisfied. Ještěd is already fully-prepared. Now, we are just refining details in the logistics and other areas," stated Liberec 2009 President, former top skier Katerina Neumannova.

Beside the athletes, special attention is being paid to the Nordic fans who will visit these unique World Championships: "We have prepared a special social program for the fans. And I am pleased to be able to invite to the Official Opening of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships at Tipsport arena. Probably the most famous name (not from sports, of course) that spectators and ski fans will get to see there is that of the legendary English rock band Deep Purple", Neumannova added. "During the Championships, we will have theme days in Liberec. During these theme days, spectators will have the opportunity to meet cultures of countries such as Italy, Norway or Slovakia. A great attraction during the Slovak Day will be a concert of the popular Slovak band Elán. The Organizing Committee is preparing fan zones on the and Vesec grounds which will offer not only refreshments but also music productions. Nearly every day, concerts by Czech music stars will take place on the main square in Liberec where medal award ceremonies will be held."

To get smoothly to the venues, the Organizing Committee is offering free public transportation in Liberec, as well transfers by tram from the neighboring town of Jablonec nad Nisou.

How to get there:  Prague International Airport is the closest airport to use for Liberec, it takes about 1,5 hours to Liberec (depending on traffic), the distance between Prague and Liberec is a bit more than 100 km and is connected with a highway.

For more information visit www.liberec2009.com  

The reigning 2007 World Champions from Sapporo (JPN)

Cross-Country

Ladies
Individual start 10 km free technique: Katerina Neumannova (CZE)
Mass start 30 km classical technique: Virpi Kuitunen (FIN)
Pursuit: Olga Savialova (RUS)
Team sprint free technique: Finland
Sprint classical technique: Astrid Jacobsen (NOR)
Relay: Finland

Men
Individual start 15 km free technique: Lars Berger (NOR)
Mass start 50 km classical technique: Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset (NOR)
Pursuit: Axel Teichmann (GER)
Team Sprint free technique: Italy
Sprint classical technique: Jens Arne Svartedal (NOR)
Relay: Norway

Ski Jumping
Large Hill: Simon Ammann (SUI)
Normal Hill: Adam Malysz (POL)
Team: Austria

Nordic Combined
Sprint: Hannu Manninen (FIN)
Gundersen: Ronny Ackermann (GER)
Team: Finland

 

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