|News from the World of Skiing|
|News from the World of Skiing|
|Markku Koski (FIN)|
Photo: Agence Zoom
The first-ever FIS Snowboard World Champions held in Asia concluded on Saturday 24th January in Sungwoo, Gangwon (KOR), renowned as the mecca of Snowboarding in Korea. Following the Opening Ceremony held in the resort on 17th January with participation of numerous Korean dignitaries including the governor of Gangwon Province and the Korean Minister of Sport - a keen and expert snowboarder - athletes from the 43 participating nations took on the slopes in nine exciting competitions. And the enthusiasm of the Koreans for snowboarding and skiing is characterized by the fact that the slopes were packed with snowboarders and skiers until 4am which is the regular opening time at the weekends!
The freestyle competitions at the 2009 FIS Snowboard World Championships Gangwon, Korea presented by LG were held on Friday and Saturday in good weather conditions. Jiayu Liu (CHN) and Ryoh Aono (JPN), two main favorites, grabbed the ladies' and men's half-pipe titles. They also made history by becoming the first Asian champions in the eight FIS Snowboard World Championships. Liu nailed it in the second run of the ladies' final, relegating Holly Crawford (AUS) and Paulina Ligocki (POL) to the second and third ranks respectively. On the men's side, Aono simply confirmed his top performances from the training and qualifying sessions. The 18-year-old rider threw the best runs in both rounds. Jeff Batchelor (CAN) and defending champion Mathieu Crepel (FRA) rounded out the podium in the well-shaped and highly acclaimed half-pipe.
In the final competition, the big air which was held on a specially constructed scaffolding structure in the middle of the resort, the Finns again made their mark. In a high class final, Markku Koski grabbed gold and became the third Finn to achieve this feat after Risto Mattila (2003) and Antti Autti (2005). Young Belgian star Seppe Smits won silver ahead of Austrian stylist Stefan Gimpl.
After all 27 medals had been awarded, Team Austria returned home as the most successful team. Its lot included three of the nine World Championship titles and a total of six medals. Switzerland collected four medals (1-1-2) and Canada one of each. 14 countries celebrated at least one medal. Although there were no double World Champions, two riders appeared on the podium twice: Doris Guenther (AUT) and Sylvain Dufour (FRA) won silver in each parallel event.
"We are very pleased with our first Championships in Asia where many of the growing markets for our sport are located. Special thanks belong to the local organizing team who spared no effort to deliver a great event, including being available around the clock. The top riders in the world enjoyed high quality competition sites especially for the freestyle events and boarder cross. For the parallel events the course surface was more challenging for the athletes since it was not quite packed enough to hold through all the heats," commented FIS Race Director Marcel Looze.
|Classic sprint action|
Photo: OC Kreischberg-Murau
|Men's classic sprint medalists|
Photo: OC Kreischberg-Murau
The FIS Telemark World Championships 2009˙continued in Kreischberg-Murau (AUT) on Thursday 22nd January and concluded on Saturday 24th January with the traditional Telemark events, classic and classic sprint, respectively. These include a cross-country part at the bottom of the hill section which entails gates and jumps.
Norwegian Sigrid Rykhus turned out to be the female Telemarker to beat as she took the title in both classic events, successfully defending her sprint gold from 2007. Behind Rykhus, Swiss giant slalom champion Amelie Reymond collected two silver medals, both times ahead of her teammate. In the end, the medal winners on the ladies side were always the same, with the Swiss duo ahead in giant slalom and Rykhus dominating the classics.
On the men's side, the 2007 triple champion Eirik Rykhus (NOR had a tall order which he began successfully by winning gold in the first event, giant slalom. In the classic, he was beaten by Swede Matthias Wagenius and Swiss Sebastian Dayer who fought until the very end to take the top spots. On Sunday, Borge Sovik (NOR) took the classic sprint gold ahead of Rykhus with Wagenius also collecting a second medal by taking the bronze. As a result, Eirik Rykhus captured one of each color of medals.
Following the 2003 FIS Snowboard World Championships and several ski cross and Snowboard World Cups, the 2009 Telemark World Championships in Kreischberg-Murau benefited from the great experience of the local organizing committee headed by Hello Haas, the man who also led the organization of the highly successful FIS Snowboard World Championships 2007 in Arosa (SUI).
|Vars World Championships|
Photo: OC Vars
|Karine Dubouchet (FRA) |
Photo: OC Vars
108 racers from 17 nations participated in the 2009 FIS Speed Skiing World Championships in Vars (FRA) last week. After 3 days of poor weather including significant snowfall from 18th-20th January, the competitions were held in ideal conditions on the Chabrires piste on 21st-22nd January 2009.
After four competition runs, Karine Dubouchet (FRA) and Simone Origone (ITA) are the 2009 FIS World Champions in Speed Skiing. For Simone, it is the third title although he did not break his record with his final result of 225,00km/h. Philippe May (SUI) won the silver medal ahead of his teammate Jonathan Moret. Bastien Montes (FRA) and Jukka Viitasaari (FIN) tied for the fourth place.
On the ladies side, Karine Dubouchet delivered an impressive comeback from a break at home with two children. She seems to have worked very hard to win this gold medal with 213,523km/h which was just a touch faster than both Elena Banfo (ITA) and defending 2007 champion Sanna Tidstrand (SWE) who tied for the silver medal.
In the recently introduced downhill category, the ladies' gold medal went to the Beijing Olympic champion in BMX, Anne-Caroline Chausson (FRA). In the men's SDH class - where standard Alpine downhill equipment is used - Gregory Meichty (also from SUI) beat the competition with a staggering 195,758km/h.
The feedback was unanimous in that the organizers in Vars did a wonderful job in putting up great championships. In the words of one racer: "Hats off for achieving a highly successful event during which every racer from every nation greatly enjoyed the warm and friendly hospitality of Vars!"
|Justyna Kowalczyk (POL)|
|Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT) |
After the trip to the 2010 Olympic venue in Whistler Olympic Park, the Viessmann FIS Cross-Country World Cup continued in Otep (EST) which hosted its 9th World Cup weekend. The traditionally classical technique events again enjoyed good crowds and excellent atmosphere, despite the near zero temperatures and wet snowfall especially on Sunday. In the individual start distance races, Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) claimed victory in the ladies race one day after her 26th birthday. She also won two years ago and achieved her first ever podium in Otep in 2006. In the men's race Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic became the first male skier to defend his title since Otep first hosted World Cup races in 1999. In Sunday's sprint races, Petra Majdic (SLO) and Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR) continued their superb sprint seasons with yet another World Cup win, the fourth for both. Men's A final was a real Norwegian championship race - Swede Mats Larsson was the only non-Norwegian in the final race and the Norwegians took a five-fold victory.
Finn Aino Kaisa Saarinen grew her World Cup lead to 95 points. Swiss Dario Cologna also retained his lead since 2nd placed Petter Northug (NOR) skipped the Otep weekend. The Cross-Country World Cup continues in Rybinsk (RUS) with three events beginning on Friday.
The FIS Ski Jumping World Cup had its turn to test the 2010 Olympic venue in Vancouver last weekend. Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT) took two back-to-back wins, his sixth and seventh wins of the season, and overtook the World Cup lead from Swiss Simon Ammann who had worn the leader's yellow bib all season so far. Schlierenzauer, Ammann and Four-Hills-winner Wolfgang Loitzl make up the top trio in the overall standings having clearly distanced themselves from the rest of the field. Austrian jumpers have been dominating this year's circuit with nine consecutive victories, five from Schlierenzauer. Along with the third place finisher Ville Larinto (FIN), he also set the hill record for the new Olympic large hill at 149 meters. After a completely windless competition weekend during the Nordic Combined events, the specialist jumpers were challenged with changing winds during their stay in Whistler Olympic Park. The Ski Jumpers next compete in Sapporo (JPN) on their world tour.
|Julien Lizeroux & Jean-Baptiste Grange|
Photo: Agence Zoom
|Aiko Uemura (JPN)|
Photo: Mike Ridewood
The Audi FIS Alpine World Cup for the ladies continued with a substantial planned program at the classic venue of Cortina d'Ampezzo (ITA). Early week snowfalls and fog wrought havoc with the schedule however, forcing the cancellation of the second downhill and the rescheduling of the super-G onto Monday. Swiss Dominique Gisin demonstrated in Saturday's downhill that her first victory in Altenmarkt was no one-day wonder and repeated her success in Cortina. Sunday's giant slalom ended up being an all Austrian affair as the red white ladies team swept the podium led by Kathrin Zettel who celebrated already her third giant slalom win of the season, overtaking Finn Tanja Poutiainen for the event rankings by one point. Monday's super-G saw a podium of first-timers: 24-year-old Jessica Lindell-Vikerby (SWE) won her first ever World Cup race, after the Swede delivered a perfect run, setting a time which dwarfed all other racers. Austrian Andrea Fenninger took second place, three quarters of a second behind the winner, earning her first World Cup podium, as did the third placed Swiss Andrea Dettling. Lindsey Vonn (USA) maintained her overall World Cup lead before the two events in Garmisch-Partenkirchen this week.
In Kitzbhel and Schladming (AUT), the men completed a massive five-race program in five days. On Friday, Klaus Kroell stormed to victory in the super-G on the infamous Streif course. It was Kroell's first World Cup victory made even sweeter considering that he had sustained a hand injury last weekend with three broken bones. In the so-called downhill of downhills on Sunday, Didier Defago followed teammate Gisin's example by recording downhill wins on consecutive weekends delivering another solid run to claim the crown on the Streif. Only eleven skiers had won both Wengen and Kitzbhel classical downhills in the same year previously. Another Swiss, Silvan Zurbriggen, became the victor of the traditional combined awarding the 69th edition of the Hahnenkamm trophy, considered the real Hahnenkamm winner. Their wins were overshadowed by the terrible crash of teammate Daniel Albrecht in Thursday's downhill training as he fell whilst negotiating the finish jump. In Sunday's slalom the double victory did not go to the host nation Austria but to the French who celebrated their first 1-2 in a World Cup race in 25 years. Julien Lizeroux took his maiden victory with teammate and slalom World Cup leader Jean Baptiste Grange on his heels in 2nd place. In Schladming, record 50'000 spectators are said to have attended to witness the revenge by the Austrians: Reinfried Herbst took his fifth career victory in heavy snowfall at the night race, and his first one on home snow. Croatian Ivica Kostelic finished third and further grew his overall World Cup lead as the men continue racing in the last World Cup races before the World Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen with a downhill and slalom this week.
The Freestyle FIS World Cup saw an unprecedented podium sweep by the Canadian men's mogul team as competition resumed at Ski Mont Gabriel (CAN). The winner in frigid temperatures, with the wind-chill factor around -30 C, was Vincent Marquis. In the ladies' competition Aiko Uemura of Japan beat Jennifer Heil (CAN) who took second for the second time this season and is getting back on her game after returning from a year off to rehabilitate chronic knee pain.
In Sunday's aerials defending World Cup champion Steve Omischl (CAN) is back doing what he grew accustomed to doing - winning. His 19th World Cup victory was also his second straight win at Ski Mont Gabriel and brought him the lead in the event rankings. In the ladies' aerials final, victory and the yellow bib went to Lydia Lassila of Australia after first-round leader Nina Li of China had a rough landing on her final jump to fall to fourth behind two of her teammates Shuang Cheng and Shanshan Zhao. The Freestyle World Cup action continues this week at the Tour's marquee event at Deer Valley.
|Emanuele Bagati (ITA)|
Photo: Marco Di Marco
The 10th season of the FIS Carving Cup - World Edition officially opened at Monte Bondone (ITA) on 10th-11th January. The first winners were Italian Thomas Bergamelli and Swiss Melanie Buergener. These two athletes also reigned at the second event in Bardonecchia last weekend, 24th-25th January. The Carving circus will now move to San Martino di Castrozza (ITA) to celebrate the World Challenge, Carving's World Championship, which assigns medals, as well as Cup points. Thereafter, the teams will travel to Poland's Zakopane, where besides the competitions an exhibition event of the top 10 men and ladies will be staged on the outrun of the ski jumping hill on Saturday evening. An event in Sauze d'Oulx (Feb. 28th and March 1st) and the finals in Roccaraso (both ITA) will close the season.
For further information visit www.carvingcup.com ˙
|J n Figel' & Jacques Rogge|
Photo: IOC/Richard Juilliart
Representatives of the Olympic Movement, led by IOC President Jacques Rogge, met with representatives of the European Commission earlier this week. The EU delegation visiting the IOC headquarters in Lausanne was led by J n Figel', European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth. The meeting came as a follow-up on several meetings between IOC leaders and EU officials held last year (including a meeting of 27 NOC presidents and sports ministers in Slovenia during the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup finals in Planica) and specifically, to discuss the action points specified in the recent European Council Declaration on Sport, which was presented in the Conclusions of the French Presidency of the EU in mid-December 2008. The topics under discussions included the so-called `specificity' and autonomy of sport, financing of sport and betting, application of EU competition law and of free movement principles in the field of sport, and the fight against doping.
Promoting and protecting the autonomy of the Olympic and sports movement has become an issue of increasing importance for the IOC in recent years. Governmental interference in the affairs of national Olympic committees around the globe has prompted the IOC to take action. The EU's Lisbon Treaty includes reference to the "specificity" of sport which has also been a subject of recent discussions. If the treaty is ratified, a sports commissioner is said to be named by the EU.
The meeting had important symbolic value in that both parties indicated their mutual respect for each other and recognition of the value that both contribute to modern society. The IOC plans to open an office in Brussels next week to further the dialogue with the European Commission over the issues on the table.
Registration is now open for the first World Winter Masters Games in 2010: online registration for the event scheduled to be held in Bled (SLO) from 25th-31st January 2010, opened exactly a year before the event, on 25th January 2009.
The World Masters Games are organized by the International Masters Games Association. The aim of the World Masters Games is to support the Olympic movement and promote the 'sport for all' philosophy of the Olympic Charter by encouraging mature athletes to practice sports regularly and to participate in Masters Games.
The first World Winter Masters Games 2010 will allow anyone over the age of 25 to participate in an Olympic style experience. There are no qualifications or national teams, only age criteria. The social aspect of the competition is just as important as the sports one. More than 5.000 athletes from more than 60 countries are expected to compete in six different disciplines: Alpine Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing, Ski Jumping, Biathlon, Ice Hockey, and as presentation sport, Indoor Football (futsal). The skiing competitions will be held in Kranjska Gora (Alpine Skiing), Planica (Ski Jumping) and Pokljuka (Cross-Country Skiing and Biathlon).
For more information or to register, visit to www.2010mastersgames.com.
|Preparations in Val d'Isere 2009|
Photo: OC Val d'Isere
Photo: OC Val d'Isere
The Solaise and Bellevarde mountains create a panoramic setting for the 2009 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships that will begin in Val d'Isre (FRA) on 2nd February with the official opening ceremony, 47 years after the last championships in France. The competitions will run from the 3rd - 15th February, starting with the super-G for the ladies. The World Championships represent the season highlight and with numerous winners this season on the FIS World Cup circuit, the medals in Val d'Isre will be keenly contested.
The men will be competing on the Bellevarde Face Olympic slope. This run features steep inclines and hairpin bends, 90% of which are visible from the finish line, making La Face an ideal run for the hoards of spectators which are expected at the event. The ladies speed events will take place on the Rhne-Alpes slope on the Solaise Mountain where no races at the highest level have been held on the remodeled course.
A huge amount of snow fell last weekend, Ť meter overnight on Saturday alone, which means that the course teams have been busy at work removing the fresh snow from the hard-prepared race courses for several days now. It goes without saying that the resort is looking even more picturesque with the new snow cover. As of Monday, 230'000 requests for the special invitation, which includes free access to the event and public transportation for the symbolic amount of 1 Euro, had been received by the organizing committee with the highest numbers of almost 25'000 for Saturday 7th February (men's downhill) and more than 20'000 for the final Sunday, 15th February 2009 (men's slalom). For more information and up-to-date news, please visit www.valdisere2009.org ˙
Halti, the leading Finnish outdoor brand, has been an official "FIS Partner" and the "FIS Official Clothing Supplier" since the 2007/2008 season. This season, Halti is also the official sponsor and clothing supplier of the 2009 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Val d'Isre (FRA), following on from its first engagement in the same role at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in re (SWE) in 2007.
Halti is planning a visible presence in Val d'Isre. For the first time, all the FIS officials and competition jury members will be wearing the highly functional Halti clothing while attending to their many different duties. For the Val d'Isre championship officials and around 1,500 volunteers, Halti has produced a special suit made of recycled materials that is ideal for environmentally aware skiers who do not wish to compromise on technical features. The environment is one of the four main themes of the 2009 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, along with free access, ski festival and the concept of face-a-face, the two opposing race slopes.
Halti's products were put to a hard test in the extreme conditions, down to -27C, in re two years ago. The local team of volunteers were pleased with the performance of their uniforms which were proven to be not only breathable and light weight, but also functional in a wide range of temperatures.
"Cooperation with Halti was outstanding in re and we will continue in the same collaborative spirit in Val d'Isre. Halti's technically superior suits help those working to perform at their best, especially in all difficult weather conditions, such as cold temperatures and heavy snowfall, which is of prime importance for the organisation of the championships," says FIS President Gian Franco Kasper.
Besides providing clothing to championship officials, Halti has also provided the suits for the Finnish Alpine Ski Team. In addition, Halti will engage on the communication front by producing extensive multi-media coverage from the championships with the help of its own camera team. The Halti TV team will be sending behind-the-scenes stories around the races from its base in the Halti Chalet.
For more information visit www.halti.fi
|Praz de Lys (FRA)|
|Strbsk Pleso (SVK)|
The countdown for the FIS Nordic Junior World Championships and U-23 Cross-Country World Championships is running: in just a day, the most important competitions for the next generation of top cross-country skiers will begin in France, on the lovely high plateau of Praz de Lys in Haute Savoie.
Praz de Lys is well-prepared to host the 380 young Cross-Country athletes from 33 nations. About 1 m of snow is waiting on the highlands where some nations such as Russia have been there training for some time.
The FIS U-23 Cross-Country World Championships will kick off Thursday with interval start races over 10km (ladies) and 15 km (men) in free technique followed by the pursuit races on Saturday, 31st January. The U-23 event will conclude on Sunday 1st February with sprint competitions in classical technique together with the Juniors, who get going with this event.
The FIS Junior World Championships will continue on 3rd February with the pursuit races over 5 km + 5 km (ladies) and 10 km + 10 km (men). The interval start competitions in free technique over 5 km (ladies) and 10 km (men) are on the schedule on 5th February. The program of the FIS Junior World Championships will conclude with the traditional relay races for both genders on 6th February. For more information, click here.
The FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships in Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined will be held almost concurrently in Strbsk Pleso, Slovakia. The official opening will take place on the evening of 4th February with the first competitions held on 5th February with the men's individual Ski Jumping (HS 100) and the Nordic Combined individual event with one round of jumping and 5km cross-country race. Both the ladies' individual and men's Ski Jumping team competition are scheduled for 6th February while Nordic Combined team and the second individual competition are held on the weekend of 7th-8th February.
Strbsk Pleso last organized the Nordic Junior World Ski Championships in 2000, at that time with all three disciplines and it shared the responsibility for the event in 1990 as Les Saisies (FRA) staged the Cross-Country events with Strbsk Pleso carrying out the Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping events as this year.
Candidate nominations are currently being accepted for the Alpine and Nordic positions in the FIS Athletes' Commission. The athletes themselves will decide their representatives in elections that will be held during the respective World Championships. Altogether there are four Alpine (two ladies and men each) positions and four Nordic positions (two Cross-Country (male & female), one for Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined each) available on the FIS Athletes' Commission for the 2009-2013 period. The elections for the Snowboard representatives were conducted in Korea last week while those for the Freestyle representatives will be staged during the FIS Freestyle World Championships in Inawashiro (JPN) in March.
The National Ski Associations are requested to nominate their candidates (only one per discipline per National Ski Association) by sending an email to email@example.com. For more information on the FIS Athletes' Commission, click here.