News from the World of Skiing 

  Val d'IsŠre 2009: From speed to technical events ... more

  Countdown to Liberec 2009: 7 days to go ... more

  Norway reclaims Nordic Marc Hodler Trophy ... more

  Team Austria leads inaugural FIS Team Tour ... more

  2010 Olympic venues in test: Freestyle Skiing at Cypress, Snowboard to follow ... more

  Nordic Combined in Seefeld, Snowboard in Bardonecchia ... more

  European Cup struggles with too much snow ... more

  9th European Youth Olympic Festival to begin in Slask-Beskidy (POL) ... more


 Inside FIS 

  Successful Aid&Promotion Cross-Country camp in Dolni Misecky (CZE) ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

Val d'IsŠre 2009: From speed to technical events
Lara Gut (SUI) & Lindsey Vonn (USA)
Photo: Agence Zoom
Julien Lizeroux (FRA) & Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR)
Photo: Agence Zoom

The FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2009 are in full swing in Val d'IsŠre (FRA). Despite changing weather conditions, all the speed events were successfully carried out by Monday, 9th February.

After the first two new world champions were crowned in the ladies' (Lindsey Vonn) and men's super-G (Didier Cuche), the ladies' super combined gold went to Kathrin Zettel (AUT). The Austrian finished fifth in the downhill run, but blitzed the one-run slalom with one of the fastest times to win her first ever World Championship race. The Swiss young star Lara Gut impressed by taking the silver. Austria's second medal was confirmed after the disqualification of Lindsey Vonn who missed a gate which brought Elisabeth G”rgl the bronze. In the men's downhill, John Kucera became the first ever Canadian male to win downhill gold at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, after a stellar performance with bib number 2. The Swiss took two medals, with super-G champion Dider Cuche collecting his second medal just 4 hundredths behind and young Carlo Janka who captured the bronze medal.

Despite enormous efforts by the course crews, the ladies' downhill had to be cancelled on Sunday due to snow and visibility problems. The race was postponed to what became Magic Monday with both the men's super combined and ladies' downhill on the same day that were watched by 32'000 spectators on sight - the highest number ever recorded for an event in Val d'IsŠre. Lindsey Vonn made it two gold medals by recording an undisputed victory more than « second ahead the rest of the field. Swiss young talent Lara Gut in 2nd place, too, collected her second medal of the same color. In 3rd position, Italy's Nadia Fanchini captured her first medal at a major event.

In the men's super combined, Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) conquered the Face de Bellevarde course to take gold after a disappointing 11th position in the downhill. As many of the slalom favorites failed to finish, the Norwegian started with a 2.93 advantage and held strong as his lead diminished down the hill. He finally crossed the finish line 90/100 in the lead. France's Julien Lizeroux brought the second medal, silver, to the host nation after a stunning slalom run which allowed him to move from 22nd to 2nd. Croatia's Natko Zrncic-Dim claimed a surprise bronze making up for the absence of his World Cup leading teammate Ivica Kostelic who had to return home for treatment for back pain.

On Wednesday, the nations' team event had to be cancelled due to the snow conditions on the course following extreme snowfalls and high winds. Regrettably it has proved not possible to reschedule the event later in the week with the technical races on the schedule.

After six of the ten events, the medals table is led by the United States of America (2-0-0) ahead of Switzerland with five medals (1-3-1). All in all, eight countries have so far won medals as the technical events begin with the ladies giant slalom and the qualification race for the men's giant slalom on Thursday.

For complete coverage and the new live ticker, visit www.fisalpineworldchampionships.com

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Countdown to Liberec 2009: 7 days to go

In just 7 days, the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2009 will begin in the Bohemian city Liberec (CZE). After years of intensive preparations, Liberec is ready for its grand premiere and looking forward to welcoming the Nordic ski world to the event, scheduled from 18th February-1st March. These Championships will be the most prestigious sports event to have taken place in the history of the independent Czech Republic. It will also be the biggest TV event in the history of Czech Television (CT), the host broadcaster. CT expects to produce more than 60 hours of international coverage with the help of a total of 54 TV cameras connected with 60 kilometers of cables.

The 2009 Worlds promise to be a great spectacle with much in store for the 635 participants from 62 nations, also a new record! Besides the traditional Nordic skiing strongholds of Norway, Sweden or Russia, athletes from some more exotic Nordic ski countries have registered including teams from Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, India and Iran, just to mention a few.

In Cross-Country, a qualification race (5km/10km for ladies and men, respectively) for the interval start competitions will for the first time take place on the opening day, 18th February. The best 10 athletes per gender will be able to compete in the championship interval start races scheduled on 19th (ladies 10km) and 20th (men 15km). The courses have a snow cover of some 50 cm and are in the process of being fine-tuned in order to be race ready. Substantial snow reserves will help guarantee the best conditions even if a warm weather spell should cross over the Jizera Mountains in the next few days.

For more information, visit www.liberec2009.com

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Norway reclaims Nordic Marc Hodler Trophy
Victorious Norwegian ladies relay
Ski Jumping podium

After losing the coveted Marc Hodler Trophy to Germany last year, Norway again emerged as the best team at the FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships 2009. In the ranking including the eight Cross-Country competitions - carried out in Praz de Lys (FRA) - and the three Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined competitions each, staged in Strbske Pleso (SVK), Norway collected a total of 161 points. The Norwegian team beat 2nd placed Germany by 20 points while Russia finished 3rd. For the detailed results table, click here.

There were two athletes that shone above the others at the 2009 Cross-Country Junior Worlds. The unquestionable queen of the event was Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg from Norway, who won all three individual competitions (sprint, pursuit and interval start) and also claimed victory with her team in the relay competition. On the men's side, the dominator was Petr Sedov from Russia who collected three gold medals, in the pursuit, interval start and the relay. Only the sprint victory went to another male athlete - Sedov's teammate Alexander Panzhinskiy. In total, 6 of the 33 participating nations collected a podium place. The medal ranking in Cross-Country was won by Russia with 7 medals (4-2-1) ahead of Norway with 8 medals (4-1-3) and Sweden with (0-3-1).

In Strbske Pleso (SVK), both men's Ski Jumping titles went to Austria. In the individual competition, 16-year-old Lukas Mueller earned victory with the longest jump of the competition. Mueller collected his second gold together with the team which narrowly beat Germany in the team event. In the junior ladies competition, the Germans took a double victory with Magdalena Schnurr ahead of Anna Haefele. Only 13-year-old Coline Mattel of France claimed the bronze medal.

In Nordic Combined, Alessandro Pittin, the first Italian Nordic Combined champion in history, successfully defended his 2008 title in Strbske Pleso (Slovakia) and is now a three-time champion as he won both of the individual competitions. The win in the team competition went to Norway which won ahead of France and Germany.

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Team Austria leads inaugural FIS Team Tour
Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT)
Photo: NordicFocus

This season's new Ski Jumping highlight, the TelDaFax FIS Team Tour, is underway. The so-called "Three-Hills-Tournament" began with a team competition in Willingen last Saturday, and will be followed by three individual competitions in Willingen (last Sunday), Klingenthal (Wednesday)’and Oberstdorf before the final, a second team event, at the Heini Klopfer Ski Flying Hill in Oberstdorf on 15th February. In total, five competitions in nine days at three German sites!

Designed to emphasize the team spirit in Ski Jumping, the Team Tour combines the scores of both team competitions and the results of each nation's two best athletes in the individual contests. The prize money purse amounts to a total of CHF 500'000, with the winning team also receiving an additional Euro 1000'000.

Following the opening victory by Team Austria on Saturday, Gregor Schlierenzauer continued his winning streak in the individual competition on Sunday. It was his fifth straight World Cup win. However, with his win in Klingenthal on Wednesday, Schlierenzauer rose on par with Janne Ahonen, Matti Hautamaeki and Thomas Morgenstern, all of whom have celebrated six victories in a row. With a total of ten season victories, Ahonen's record of 12 season victories also seems to be within the realm of possibilities for Schlierenzauer given that seven competitions remain this season. After Willingen and Klingenthal, Austria leads the FIS Team Tour, ahead of Norway and Finland.

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2010 Olympic venues in test: Freestyle Skiing at Cypress, Snowboard to follow
Canadian podium sweep in ski cross
Photo: Mike Ridewood
Olympic aerials site
Photo: Mike Ridewood

While the world's best Freestyle skiers thrilled local spectators at Cypress Mountain, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic Games (VANOC) took the opportunity to put its operations to a real test. Approximately 300 athletes from 28 countries participated in the Freestyle FIS World Cup event that ran as of Thursday, 5th February through Saturday, 7th February, showcasing the three Olympic events in Freestyle Skiing: aerials, moguls and ski cross.

Ski cross athletes, who will make their Olympic debut next year, raced for the first time on the newly constructed Olympic course. "The course is amazing. It's what we've all been waiting for a long time," said Chris Del Bosco, who led the Canadian men to a podium sweep at Friday's ski cross competition. "I love the features, the jumps, the bank turns - there are a lot of places where people can make mistakes, which is a great test for a competitor's all-round skiing ability."

Canada dominated the World Cup ski cross at Cypress Mountain Friday afternoon, winning both the men's and ladies' races and taking five of six podium positions. Del Bosco edged out Stan Hayer at the finish line, ahead of Davey Barr who completed the sweep. Aleisha Cline took the top spot on the ladies' side, followed by teammate Ashleigh McIvor in 2nd.

In Friday's aerials, Steve Omischl (CAN) won the men's final. Omischl and Anton Kushnir of Belarus tied in points in the final but Omischl was awarded the win after the tie-breaking procedure that takes raw scores before the degree of difficulty is included. In the ladies' aerials, Evelyne Leu of Switzerland finished ahead of four Chinese athletes to take the victory.

Competitors also appreciated the Olympic freestyle mogul course, recognizing the efforts of the course workers. "The course is great and the weather's been good all week," said mogul skier Sho Kashima of the United States. "The course workers have been doing a great job of adjusting to the weather and conditions."

Capping a brilliant performance for Team Canada, Jennifer Heil and Alexandre Bilodeau took victory in Saturday's mogul events. In total, Canada ended the three-day competition with a remarkable five wins, two 2nd places and a 3rd place finish.

The operational testing for the 2010 Games, scheduled to begin exactly in one year's time from tomorrow on 12th February 2010, will continue with Snowboarding. The LG FIS Snowboard World Cup at Cypress Mountain is scheduled to take place from 12th February to 15th February and will feature approximately 320 athletes from 20 countries competing in the half-pipe, parallel giant slalom and snowboard cross competitions. For more information, visit www.snowboardworldcup2009.com.

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Nordic Combined in Seefeld, Snowboard in Bardonecchia
Magnus Moan (NOR)
Photo: NordicFocus
First slopestyle finals had to be cancelled
Photo: Oliver Kraus/FIS

The DKB FIS Nordic Combined World Cup continued in Seefeld (AUT) last weekend. In front of thousands of cheering spectators, Mario Stecher (AUT) achieved his ninth career victory on Saturday. On Sunday, Norway's Magnus Moan delivered another superb Cross-Country performance to take his sixth season victory. Because of all-day-long heavy snowfall and a slow in-run, the Ski Jumping session was cancelled and Friday's provisional competition round was used. Moan now trails World Cup leader Anssi Koivuranta (FIN) by only 43 points in the overall standings. As the last stage before the 2009 World Championships in Liberec, the DKB FIS Nordic Combined World Cup will feature two more events in Klingenthal (GER) next weekend.

In the season's fourth half-pipe in the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup, several Olympic medallists returned to the site of their triumph in Bardonecchia/Melezet three years ago. In the ladies' final, Kelly Clark (USA) relegated her team colleagues, who had grabbed gold and silver at the 2006 Olympics, Hannah Teter and Gretchen Bleiler, to the second and third ranks, respectively. By contrast to the USA podium sweep in the ladies, in the men's race, no one from the strong US squad made it into the top 3 as 2007 world champion Mathieu Crepel from France took the top spot. Crepel impressed by finishing his run with a "Frontside 1260" as smooth as his other tricks.

On Friday, heavy snowfall forced the cancellation of the first ever FIS World Cup slopestyle finals. Marcel Looze, FIS Race Director Snowboard, commented the tough decision: "To ensure the riders' safety we had to decide this way since the weather forecast didn't promise any improvement. Unfortunately we had no other choice. I'm sorry for all riders who really enjoyed the course." However, the successful qualifiers tuned Looze positively. "It shows that we are on the right way and look forward to more slopestyle competitions in the future," he continued.

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European Cup struggles with too much snow
Karin Hackl (AUT)
Photo: Agence Zoom
Philipp Schoerghofer (AUT)
Photo: Agence Zoom

Two-thirds of the European Cup season in Alpine Skiing has now been completed. Both the ladies and men's 2008/09 calendar comprised a total of 33 outdoor and 2 indoor races. This week the men are racing in Sarntal-Reinswald (ITA) where heavy winds today forced rescheduling of the downhill race to tomorrow while the ladies will continue in Zakopane (POL) mid-next week.

"Overall, this winter has been characterized with a lot of snow and enormous investments, both in terms of manpower and financial resources, in delivering the scheduled races," commented Markus Waldner, FIS Coordinator for the men's European Cup. "However, so far we have only lost one super combined race, thanks to these truly extraordinary efforts by the organizers."

Janez Flere, the ladies' European Cup coordinator, added: "On the speed side, we have been very unlucky with the weather for racing. At several excellent sites, such as Altenmarkt and St. Moritz, we were plagued by too much snow and were forced to improvise with the calendar. Fortunately we still have a good chance to carry out speed races in Tarvisio (ITA) and at the finals in Crans-Montana (SUI)." He added: "On the technical side, we have had much better luck with only one snow-related change and generally good conditions especially for the giant slaloms."

In the current rankings, the ladies leader is Austrian Karin Hackl who is in the midst of a great season especially in the speed events. Runner-up Nadja Kamer (SUI) is just 59 points behind and the two are likely to deliver a great fight for the overall title. 19-year-old Carmen Thalmann (AUT) is in her first European Cup season and in solid third position. Remarkable is also the rise of a new generation of German ladies slalom skiers who currently dominate the slalom standings with 5 racers in the top 7.

On the men's side, the overall rankings are led by Austrian Philipp Schoerghofer who has also recorded two top ten World Cup giant slalom results. Patrick Kueng (SUI), who made his World Cup debut in Wengen, trails him by 74 points, ahead of Florian Scheiber (AUT).

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9th European Youth Olympic Festival to begin in Slask-Beskidy (POL)

The 2009 European Youth Olympic Festival will commence in Slask-Beskidy (POL) this coming Saturday, 14th February and will last for a week, until 21st February. The event expects to welcome almost 1'000 young athletes, aged 15 to 18, organized under the auspices of the IOC and the European Olympic Committees. The 9th edition of the event boasts a record number of participants coming from all over Europe: from Iceland to Israel.

"This is going to be the biggest of all the Festivals that have been held so far," says Tadeusz Pilarz, President of the Organizing Committee. "We have received entries from 47 countries so far, which is an absolute record, as there were only 43 countries competing in Jaca in Spain two years ago. We have received 1620 entries, and 1100 out of those are entered competitors. The others are coaches, teams' captains, service personnel, a considerable number are VIP and invited guests mainly from other European Olympic Committees."

The biggest number of athletes will represent Switzerland. The Swiss team will comprise 103 people in total, including 73 competitors. The Russians will also bring a strong squad, including 68 athletes. The smallest representations will be those of Andorra (2), San Marino, Malta and Monaco (3), and Cyprus (4).

Competitions in five of FIS's six Olympic disciplines are on the schedule, the three Nordic disciplines (Cross-Country, Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined), Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding. For the detailed schedule click here and for general information, visit the event's web page at http://www.slask-beskidy.pl

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 Inside FIS 

Successful Aid&Promotion Cross-Country camp in Dolni Misecky (CZE)

24 participants from nine nations had the chance to participate in the FIS Aid & Promotion program Cross-Country training camp that was held in the Dolni Misecky village (CZE). The site is situated about 900 m above sea level in the western part of the Giant Mountains, Czech Republic.. The Camp officially started on Sunday 11th of January and finished on Sunday 25th of January. During the camp, a variety of training units, technique sessions and lectures were organized along with a trip to Prague. Misecky is one of the best winter resorts in the Czech Republic which features homologated cross-country tracks daily prepared for classic and free techniques in good and secure snow conditions. The participants also had the chance to race in FIS and Slavic Cup races as well as take part in the 25 km Jilemnick  popular race.

Several of the camp participants are expected to return to the Czech Republic in the next few days as they will take part in the qualification race at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Liberec on 18th February, trying to qualify for the interval start distance races

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