News from the World of Skiing 

  FIS Alpine World Ski Championships begin in Val d'IsŠre ... more

  Experience Val d'IsŠre atmosphere on FISalpineworldchampionships.com ... more

  Cross-Country: Successful U-23 Worlds finish in Praz de Lys (FRA)-Juniors underway ... more

  Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping Junior Worlds to begin in Strbsk‚ Pleso (SVK) ... more

  End of January World Cups ... more


 In Depth 

  One month to go: Inawashiro 2009 ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

FIS Alpine World Ski Championships begin in Val d'IsŠre
Lindsey Vonn (USA)
Photo: Agence Zoom
Didier Cuche (SUI)
Photo: Agence Zoom

The FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2009 are in full swing! The event commenced in Val d'IsŠre (FRA) on Monday, 2nd February. FIS President Gian Franco Kasper opened the event in all the four official FIS languages - French, English, German and Russian - at the Opening Ceremony held in the finish area of the Face Olympique de Bellevarde.

"We are very pleased to see the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships return to France after a break of 47 years. The local organizing committee has done an excellent job in its preparations and we look forward to a wonderful festival of sports," he said. "There are ample amounts of snow and now we just have to hope for the best with the weather."

The first two new World Champions were crowned in the ladies' and men's super-G races carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday 2nd-3rd February. The new super-G ladies champion is Lindsey Vonn (USA), who captured her first title with a strong performance on the selective Rhone Alpes course on the Solaise mountain, after two silver medals two years ago in Are (SWE). Host country skier Marie Marchand-Arvier collected the silver medal to successfully launch the championships for the home team. Andrea Fischbacher of Austria completed the podium in third.

The men's title went to Swiss Didier Cuche who delivered an unmatchable run on the extremely icy and steep course on the Face Bellevarde. Cuche not only beat his closest challengers Italian Peter Fill and Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal by 99 hundredths of a second or more, the 34.5-year-old also became the oldest world champion in history as he claimed his first championship title. The previous record holder Stephan Eberharter was 33 years and 11 months old as he won in St Moritz in 2003.

All in all, 504 athletes - 204 ladies and 300 men - representing a record number of 73 nations have been entered to participate in the fourth FIS Alpine World Ski Championships held in France. Several hundred million television viewers are expected to view the Championships while a total of 1500 media representatives have been accredited to report on the event.

For the first time, the TV production from the event will be carried out using fully high definition with five-channel audio technology. The total of 37 camera production will also include a very special suspended camera over the slalom course on Face de Bellevarde, the men's racing slope. A 600-meter traction cable will allow the camera to descend at the same speed as the competitors in the slalom and lower part of the downhill race course, reaching speeds of up to 90 km/h. This camera will offer television spectators a new perspective of the race, enabling them to better appreciate the competitors' speed and the steepness of the slope. In addition, a hyper slow motion camera (minimum of 500 pictures / second) will be used for both the ladies and men's races to display an exceptional level of detail of athlete movement and positions.

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Experience Val d'IsŠre atmosphere on FISalpineworldchampionships.com
Opening of Val d'Isere 2009
Photo: Agence Zoom
La Face
Photo: Agence Zoom

To bring the happening closer to the fans, plenty of on- and off-course action is available from the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Val d'IsŠre online: There are news, race reviews, athlete interviews and, brand new, a live commentary of all races on a Live Ticker available on the FISalpineworldchampionships.com site (click here).

Together with the established FIS Live Timing service, the new Live Ticker will ensure that it is possible to enjoy every second of the Championship races. Detailed written commentary about each athlete's run makes it possible to experience the action on the slopes. At just one glance it is possible to see the World Championship calendar and results, as well as information about the race course and previous world champions.

Additional coverage includes current and future star athletes on camera revealing their championship expectations and experiences in pre- and post race interviews. A close up on several of the big ski talents features more details about their life and career as athletes.
Besides the action on the hill and the latest competition news, the website also features articles on the happenings in the village of Val d'IsŠre and video clips conveying the vivid ambiance among the fans.

Do not miss the exciting competitions taking place on the `Face-…-face' in Val d'IsŠre - a first-time host to the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.

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Cross-Country: Successful U-23 Worlds finish in Praz de Lys (FRA) - Juniors underway
Junior ladies pursuit podium
Joy of success on the way to podium

The FIS U-23 Cross-Country World Championships were successfully held from 29th January to 1st February 2009 in Praz de Lys (FRA) followed by the Junior World ˙Championships that are currently taking place. The competition site at the high plateau in the tourism region of Haute Savoie presented itself in an excellent condition with plentiful snow, bright sun, well-prepared courses and a great view of the famous Mont Blanc.

"We are very happy to host the FIS Cross-Country U-23 and Junior World Ski Championships with 33 participating nations. So far we saw great competitions and had nice weather for the most part. The Organizing Committee and a large number of volunteers are making an outstanding job to deliver the best conditions for the young talents," stated Mathieu Fort, Chief of Competition in Praz de Lys.

The U-23 World Championships entailed two distance competitions (pursuit & an individual start race in free technique) and a sprint competition in classical technique. The most successful athlete was Sylwia Jaskowiec from Poland who won both the ladies' distance races. In the sprint, Russian Nina Rysina claimed victory. On the men's side, Maurice Manificat, a native of Haute Savoie, won the individual start race, Sergey Cherepanov (KAZ) claimed victory in the pursuit and in the sprint Ales Razym (CZE) collected the gold medal. The U-23 medals table was consequently led by Poland with two gold medals (2-0-0) ahead of Russia with 5 medals (1-2-2) and Kazakhstan with two medals (1-1-0).

The FIS Junior World Ski Championships in Cross-Country are underway at the moment: two competitions - the sprint in the classical technique and the pursuit - have already taken place whilst the individual start distance and relay races will follow Thursday and Friday, 4th-5th February. Invild Flugstad Oestberg from Norway has so far collected two victories on the ladies side while two Russians were victorious on the men's side, with Alexander Panzhinskiy winning the sprint and Petr Sedov the pursuit.

Contributed by Sandra Spitz

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Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping Junior Worlds to begin in Strbsk‚ Pleso (SVK)
Hills in Strbsk‚ Pleso
Photo: skisprungschanzen.com

The FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships 2009 in Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined began in Strbsk‚ Pleso (SVK) on Wednesday evening of 4th February with the official opening ceremony. The first competitions will be held on Thursday, 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. The ladies' individual and men's Ski Jumping team competition will follow in Friday 6th February. The Nordic Combined team and second individual competition will conclude the event on 7th-8th February.

26 teams have registered to compete, including developing Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping nations of Hungary, Turkey and Romania. In Tuesday's Ski Jumping training there were 99 jumpers. Good conditions await for the young talents although the weather forecast calls for a warm spell.

Strbsk‚ Pleso last organized the Nordic Junior World Ski Championships in 2000. It also shared the responsibility for the event in 1990 with Les Saisies (FRA) which staged the Cross-Country events with Strbsk‚ Pleso carrying out the Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping events as this year.

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End of January World Cups
Tobias Angerer (GER)
Photo: NordicFocus
Magnus Moan (NOR) & Anssi Koivuranta (FIN)
Photo: Agence Zoom

The Viessmann FIS Cross-Country World Cup returned to Rybinsk (RUS) for the third time last weekend. Rybinsk is located in the Yaroslavl region, 320 km north-east of Moscow. The three-day weekend included the first mass start competition over 10km (ladies) and 15 km (men) in free technique on Friday, 30th January. The ladies race saw a first time World Cup winner with Marianna Longa (ITA) taking the top spot. In the men's race, Tobias Angerer (GER) took his 11th career victory after one and a half seasons without a podium place. In Saturday's sprint, Pirjo Muranen (FIN) and Renato Pasini (ITA) claimed victory in the free technique sprint competitions. Pasini was the last qualified athlete for the final heats but claimed his second career victory with tactically clever skiing. On Sunday, the planned pursuit competitions had to be cancelled due to too cold temperatures (-22C).

In Ski Jumping, the FIS World Cup continued its around-the-world journey from Vancouver to Sapporo (JPN). The change of the continent did not change the winner however: Just as in Zakopane and Whistler Olympic Park, Gregor Schlierenzauer continued in his dominating ways, posting his fourth straight win and the 8th victory this season on Saturday. Team Austria managed a podium sweep with Thomas Morgenstern in 2nd and Wolfgang Loitzl in 3rd place. The second competition in Sapporo on Sunday had to be cancelled due to poor weather conditions. The FIS Ski Jumping World Cup will now continue with the inaugural FIS Team Tour. The series of five contests at three German venues - Willingen, Klingenthal and Oberstdorf - features two team competitions and three individual competitions. The prize money purse includes a total of CHF 500'000, with the winning team also receiving additional 100'000 Euro.

It was time for Chaux-Neuve (FRA) to return to the DKB FIS Nordic Combined World Cup calendar after a break of six years last weekend. By taking their fifth season victories both Anssi Koivuranta (FIN) and Magnus Moan (NOR) extended their margin in the overall ranking. With seven competitions to go, the fight for the overall seems to have become a duel and Koivuranta currently leads with 92 points over Moan. In Chaux-Neuve, Koivuranta won both ski jumping sessions while on the track, Moan was not to be beaten. Their battle will go on in Seefeld (AUT) this weekend.

In Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER), both the ladies' and men's Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup tours met for the final weekend before the Val d'IsŠre World Championships. Lindsey Vonn (USA) had the ideal preparation with two back-to-back victories. She won the slalom on Friday with an impressive margin of 90/100 over serial slalom winner Maria Riesch (GER), whose four-race run was broken on her home snow. Slovenia's Marusa Ferk came in 3rd to collect her first podium. In the super-G, rescheduled from Saturday to Sunday, Vonn took her first super-G win in two years but already her fifth season win, now including one in four of the five World Cup events. Vonn is only missing a win in giant slalom in which her career (and season) best is a 4th place finish in Aspen in November 2008.

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Freestyle half-pipe in Park City
Giorgio Rocca & Manfred Moelgg (ITA)
Photo: Agence Zoom

The men's downhill on the newly restructured Kandahar course had to be cancelled on Saturday due to a cloud of fog hovering over the course. On Sunday, Manfred Moelgg (ITA), the reigning slalom World Cup champion, revealed his ambitions for the Worlds when he won the second slalom of his World Cup career. In the season's fourth slalom double victory, it was the Italians' turn after the Austrians and the French: behind Moelgg, compatriot Giorgio Rocca took second, his first podium since his last victory three years ago.

A four race line up was on the schedule in the Freestyle FIS World Cup which continued in Deer Valley (USA), the host of the 2011 FIS Freestyle World Championships. In the moguls, Hannah Kearney (USA)˙and Guilbault Colas (FRA)˙were best on a long, icy and fast course. In the aerials event, Ryan St. Onge (USA) won the men's competition after landing a landmark new jump whilst in the ladies event, China took a double victory with Nina Li and Xinxin Guo. Canadian Steve Omischl and Lydia Lassial remain first in the overall aerials standings after five of eight events scheduled for this season. In the inaugural World Cup half-pipe competition held in at Park City Mountain Resort, Angeli VanLaanen (USA) earned a big win Friday in her first World Cup over Canadian Megan Gunning.. French skiers Kevin Rolland and Xavier Bertoni, winner of season's first competition, dominated the men's pipe, with teenager Walter Wood (USA)˙third. Swiss Virginia Faivre, who finished fourth, continues to lead the ladies' rankings. In the final event, dual moguls, Canadian Jennifer Heil defeated World Cup leader Kearney˙in the finals. In men's dual moguls, Colas completed a golden sweep in Deer Valley with a win over David Babic of the U.S. in the final. World Cup leader Alexandre Bilodeau (CAN) took fourth.

At the first event - a PGS - in the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup after the 8th FIS Snowboard World Championships in Korea, two Austrians, Doris Guenther and Andreas Prommeger, celebrated victory in Sudelfeld (GER). At the only race on German soil this season and the first parallel competition in Germany in five years, Guenther beat home rider Amelie Kober (GER) in the final. On the men's side Andreas Prommeger delegated Canada's Matthew Morison onto the second spot in a thrilling final. Guenther continues to lead the ladies' overall and parallel World Cup rankings while the men's lead is held by another Austrian, Siegfried Grabner. The season will continue in Bardonecchia (ITA) which will host the first ever FIS World Cup slopestyle competition on 4th-5th February as well as a half-pipe contest on February 6th-7th. Sitting just a bit above the Olympic half-pipe in Melezet, the slopestyle course offers six features. After a rail, a Butter Box offers some time to slide before a kicker series of four jumps leads straight in the finish.

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 In Depth 

One month to go: Inawashiro 2009
Lake inwashiro and Mt Bandai

More than 600 athletes and officials from 33 nations, including some first time nations, have registered to participate in the 13th˙FIS Freestyle World Championships in Inawashiro 2009. The teams will begin to arrive from the end of February for the event that is scheduled to begin on 2nd March 2009.

On the opening day, the ski cross finals will begin the competitions followed by the evening opening ceremony and a welcome party to be held at the Inawashiro Town General Gymnasium "Camerina" to welcome all the 2'000 participants from around the world. As a special opening attraction, the popular Japanese artist "SUKIMASWITCH" will perform as a special guest to provide a spectacular launch for the event along with various folk music performances. The award ceremony will feature, among other things, children in Samurai costumes performing traditional sword dances.

The Organizing Committee plans to welcome everyone involved with Japanese hospitality." It has put special emphasis on local culture and will serve local produce to allow the participants experience the fascination of Fukushima to people from Japan and all over the world.

On 7th and 8th of March during the moguls & dual moguls events, another special event will provide the opportunity to experience snow sports in Tokyo, the Japanese metropolis. On both days, a special stage will be set up in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Tower featuring a quarter-pipe and opportunity to try sledding. Inawashiro 2009 competitions will also be aired live on a giant screen in the center of Tokyo.

For more information, visit www.inawashiro2009.jp˙

How to get there: Inawashiro is a lovely resort town that overlooks the northern shore of Lake Inawashiro. In its background lies Mt. Bandai, the symbol of Fukushima. The fastest way to get to Fukushima from Tokyo is to take the JR Tohoku Shinkansen to Koriyama. Koriyama Station is ca. 1 hour 20 minutes from Tokyo. It then takes further 40 minutes from Koriyama Station to Inawashiro Station by JR Banetsu-saisen Line Rapid Train.

Reigning 2007 Champions from Madonna di Campiglio (ITA):

Ladies

Ski cross: Ophelie David (FRA)
Aerials: Nina Li (CHN)
Moguls: Kristi Richards (CAN)
Dual moguls: Jennifer Heil (CAN)

Men

Ski cross: Tomas Kraus (CZE)
Aerials: Xiaopeng Han (CHN)
Moguls: Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau (CAN)
Dual moguls: Dale Begg-Smith (AUS)


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