News from the World of Skiing 

  Marvelous and unforgettable FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Val d'Isre ... more

  Liberec 2009 opens ... more

  Mid-February World Cups ... more

  24th Winter Universiade begins in Harbin ... more


 Inside FIS 

  FIS promotes zero-tolerance on doping at Liberec 2009 ... more


 In Depth 

  Walter Hofer on the world championship debut for ladies' ski jumping ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

Marvelous and unforgettable FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Val d'Isre
Maria Riesch (GER)
Photo: EPA - IAN LANGSDON

The FIS Alpine World Ski Championships closed in Val d'Isre (FRA) on Sunday, 15th February. In the last four events the medals were awarded to the best technical ski racers. In the ladies' giant slalom, Germany's Kathrin Hoelzl captured a surprise gold medal after delivering two solid runs. 33 years after the last German ladies' medal in a technical event, Hoelzl climbed from 4th to the top spot with a storming second run, as the top skiers from the first run struggled. Slovenian Tina Maze claimed the silver thanks to the fastest second run with Finland's Tanja Poutiainen taking the bronze.

In the men's giant slalom, "Iceman" Carlo Janka (SUI) perfected his rise to the international elite by bringing Switzerland its second gold and his second medal in Val d'Isre. Behind the impressive young Swiss, Benjamin Raich delivered Austria its first men's medal with his 2nd place. Ted Ligety (USA) claimed the bronze after setting the best time in the 2nd run.

The slalom competitions at the weekend concluded the championships. The ladies' gold went to the very deserving Maria Riesch (GER), four-time World Cup slalom winner this season, who sat only in 6th place after the first run. The pressure turned out to be too high for first run leader Manuela Moelgg, runner-up & two-time champion Lindsey Vonn and France's Sandrine Aubert whose performance was followed from the spectator stands by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Defending champion Sarka Zahbroska (CZE) added to her medal collection with the silver medal while Tanja Poutiainen won her second bronze in Val d'Isre. The men's slalom finally brought the much awaited release for the Austrian men's team as Manfred Pranger delivered the lacking men's gold medal. Julien Lizeroux turned out to be the stronger of the French favorites, capturing his second silver medal of the championships, while Michael Janyk won surprise bronze for Canada,

"These championships have delivered a major contribution to skiing in France. FIS is very positively surprised about the great numbers of spectators who have made the trip to Val d'Isre on a daily basis, especially the remarkable 32'000 who came on a regular working day, the so-called Magic Monday on 9th February, to see the ladies' downhill and men's super combined," commented FIS President Gian Franco Kasper. We hope that this enthusiasm will live far into the future in France as we now look optimistically towards the 2011 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Germany, where the host nation will be defending the outstanding two gold medals it won here in Val d'Isre."

"The success of Val d'Isre 2009 was not self-evident given the problems encountered on the way, including a major crisis just two years ago. However, the team led by the President of the Organizing Committee, Mayor of Val d'Isre Marc Bauer and OC Director General Jean-Luc Fabre, together with the French Ski Association, has done a truly outstanding job to stage these marvelous and unforgettable FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. The weather is always unpredictable and it is indeed regrettable that we lost the nations' team event especially since the host nation France had such a good chance for a medal. However all 10 individual races were successfully carried out in excellent conditions on championship-worthy courses and our sincere thanks belong to the hundreds of volunteers who tirelessly worked to prepare the courses to help the organizing committee in the challenging conditions."

The 2009 championships were held in Val d'Isre 47 years after the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships were last held in France. Of the participating 70 nations - a new record, with 382 participating athletes - 12 celebrated medals, six of them gold. With a total of six medals, Switzerland won the medals ranking, followed by Austria with five and the USA with 3 medals. A total of 260'000 estimated spectators attended the 10 medal events in the course of 13 days of competitions. The best-attended event was the men's slalom with estimated 42'000 spectators.

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Liberec 2009 opens
Liberec 2009 opening ceremony
Photo: NordicFocus
Gian Franco Kasper
Photo: OC Liberec 2009

The FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2009 will be staged in Liberec (CZE) from 18th February - 1st March. FIS President Gian Franco Kasper opened the championships at the official Opening Ceremony in the Liberec Tipsport arena on Wednesday, 18th February. Along with the official part of the festivities, the entertainment planned during the Opening Ceremony will include an appearance by the music star Karel Gott as well as a performance by the legendary hard rock band Deep Purple.

"The organizing committee led by Katerina Neumannova has worked very intensely to deliver a great ski festival. The preparations over the years were not always easy, including major organizational and financial challenges. But now, on the opening day, FIS is optimistic that it will be great FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2009 in Liberec," commented FIS President Kasper in the opening press conference. "It was 39 years ago, in 1970, that the Nordic championships were held in Czechoslovakia, in Vysoke Tatra, which also hosted the event in 1935 whilst Johannisbad served as host in 1925."

He added: "We are very pleased to welcome almost 600 athletes representing a record number of nations to Liberec 2009 - we see this as a sign of a continuing growth of our sport around the world."

589 athletes representing 61 nations have been entered to compete at Liberec 2009. Whilst 155 ladies and 239 men from 60 nations are registered to compete in Cross-Country, approximately 77 athletes from 18 nations will participate in the Nordic Combined events and 79 athletes from 22 nations in Ski Jumping. In the premiere FIS world championship in Ski Jumping 39 ladies from 13 countries have been entered to start. More than 1'500 international media will be on-site to report on the event.

Along with the Nordic Combined mass start which will make its title event debut on the first competition day, 19th February, the female ski jumpers will make their premiere at the highest level of FIS competitions.

"These first open championships in ladies' Ski Jumping are an important opportunity for the female ski jumpers to convince the International Olympic Committee of the quality of their performances and ensure the inclusion in the Olympic program of Sochi 2014," President Kasper remarked.

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Mid-February World Cups
Anders Sdergren (SWE)
Photo: Newspower.it
Harri Olli (FIN)
Photo: NordicFocus

The final FIS Nordic World Cups before the World Championships in Liberec (CZE) were held in Valdidentro (ITA), Oberstdorf and Klingenthal (both GER).

A free technique sprint and a classical technique distance race were on the schedule in the Viessmann FIS Cross-Country World Cup at the first-time Italian World Cup venue of Valdidentro. On Friday, the season's sprint dominators Petra Majdic (SLO) and Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR) again left no chance to their challengers as they recorded their fifth season wins. Majdic also secured the sprint World Cup title while Hattestad was 5 points short of confirming his second consecutive title. On Saturday, Justyna Kowalczyk from Poland took her third season victory ahead of the home favorite Marianna Longa (ITA). In the men's race the Scandinavians swept the podium led by Anders Sdergren (SWE) narrowly ahead of Jens Arne Svartedal (NOR) and Johan Olsson (SWE).

The FIS Ski Jumping World Cup featured the inaugural FIS Team Tour which was won by the Norwegian team which earned the extra prize money of _ 100'000. Austria finished second and Finland followed as third. The Team Tour overall ranking consisted of the results of the two team competitions and the results of the two best jumpers in each team in the three individual events.

On the concluding weekend of the Team Tour in Oberstdorf (GER), Finland won the final team Ski Flying competition beating a surprisingly strong Team Russia and Team Austria which gave two of its stars a hiatus. On Saturday, in challenging conditions, Finland's Harri Olli took his first World Cup win in the individual Ski Flying competition and also put an end to the winning streak by Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT) who was seeking to become the lone record holder with seven back-to-back Ski Jumping World Cup wins.

In Klingenthal, overall World Cup leader Anssi Koivuranta (FIN) managed to grow his lead over Norwegian challenger Magnus Moan as he scored his sixth World Cup victory this season ahead of Moan on Saturday. On Sunday, Bill Demong of the USA claimed his third season win in the DKB FIS Nordic Combined World Cup. Jason Lamy Chappuis (FRA) trailed by 0.8 seconds ahead of Liberec native Pavel Churavy (CZE). The ski jumping session was overshadowed by a fall by Anssi Koivuranta, who jumped 148.5 m but fell. He finished 7th.

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Shaun White (USA)
Photo: Oliver Kraus/FIS
Steve Omischl (CAN)

The Canadian World Cup freestyle ski team rocked the Freestyle FIS World Cup again last weekend in Are (SWE), as Alex Bilodeau led a men's sweep for the moguls podium. It was the second time this season that Canadian men did that as the same three skiers swept the podium last month. On Saturday, Bilodeau captured the first World Cup dual moguls competition of his freestyle ski career to record his third straight World Cup win and sixth podium in seven starts this season. Bilodeau won the duel against Guilbaut Colas of France. In Word Cup men's mogul standings Bilodeau leads the pack, with Colas second. On the ladies side, second on Friday behind Margarita Marbler (AUT), Hannah Kearney of the U.S. padded her lead atop of the overall standings with her third victory of the season on Sunday. Jennifer Heil (CAN) remains second in the overall standings

At the same time, the aerials FIS World Cup concluded in front of a record audience in Moscow (RUS). Steve Omischl (CAN) may have finished fifth in the season finale Saturday but went on to clinch his third straight crystal globe as World Cup men's overall aerials champion. It was Omischl's fourth World Cup overall title of his career and sixth time he has finished first or second. Lydia Lassila of Australia was third behind Chinese double victory in the ladies final to clinch the season's World Cup overall title. Make sure to check out the video clips from both Are and Moscow here.

The LG Snowboard FIS World Cup visited Cypress Mountain (CAN), site for the Olympic Winter Games in 2010 with a planned three-event program. The boardercrossers had a chance to test the Olympic course known as "Fork" on Friday. World Cup leaders Lindsey Jacobellis (USA) and Markus Schairer (AUT) turned out to be the best at navigating the various features.

In the fifth half-pipe contest of the season, US stars Kelly Clark and Shaun White underlined that the Olympic Champions from 2002 and 2006, continue to be the top contenders for Vancouver 2010. Clark secured her back-to-back World Cup while White celebrated his career's second FIS World Cup win.

More than 100 participants turned the two-day event into a superb snowboard show as they checked out the 2010 Olympic half-pipe and gave a first impression of the level and riding to be expected next year. Especially the finals provided some huge airs and technical tricks like "Back-to-back 1080s".

Despite the successful snowboard cross and half-pipe competitions, the PGS events had to be cancelled on Sunday due to soft snow conditions. "Vancouver has been a spectacular host to the snowboard athletes for the past several days and we are fully satisfied with this venue for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games", said FIS Snowboard Race Director Marcel Looze. "Whilst it's always disappointing to cancel an event, it was the right decision in these unique circumstances and we are convinced that VANOC will evaluate the situation and undertake all possible steps to ensure proper course preparation at the Games."

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24th Winter Universiade begins in Harbin

The 24th Winter Universiade were opened in the Chinese city of Harbin on Wednesday, 18th February. According to Xinhua News, China has invested a total of 2.6 billion Yuan (approximately 290 million Euro) to build or upgrade the sport facilities for the Winter Universiade. All 47 sports and the accommodating facilities for the event were completed by end of November, 2008. The 11-day competition has attracted a record 4,000 sudent athletes from 44 countries and regions. They will compete in 81 disciplines in 12 sports including skiing.

Harbin is expected to draw lots of experience from the Winter Universiade and use it to build a solid foundation for the city to bid for future Olympic Winter Games.For more information, visit the event home page on www.harbin2009.org

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 Inside FIS 

FIS promotes zero-tolerance on doping at Liberec 2009

The FIS Nordic World Ski Championships feature one of the largest anti-doping programs of any international major sports events outside of the Olympic Winter Games and underline the FIS position of zero tolerance on doping. At the 2009 Championships in Liberec (CZE), the FIS anti-doping program involves pre-competition blood testing of all Cross-Country and Nordic Combined competitors. This testing will be carried out by the FIS-appointed specialist agency, PWC, and approximately 450 pre-competition blood tests will be conducted.

Post-competition doping controls will be conducted by the Czech National Anti-Doping Agency. For all events in the three Nordic disciplines, the number of athletes subject to post-competition doping controls is the top 4 plus 2 at random, as per FIS Rules. In total, approximately 120 post-competition controls will be carried out during the championships.

Additionally, a substantial out-of-competition testing program has been implemented in conjunction with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prior to the championships, as was already the case prior to the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in 2003, 2005 and 2007 as well as the Olympic Winter Games in 2002 and 2006. From 1st-15th February 2009, a total of 78 EPO urine tests and 430 blood screenings have been conducted on athletes preparing to compete at Liberec 2009. For more information click here.

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 In Depth 

Walter Hofer on the world championship debut for ladies' ski jumping
Walter Hofer at Team Tour in Oberstdorf (GER)
Photo: NordicFocus

The ladies' Ski Jumping will debut at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Liberec (CZE). Walter Hofer, FIS Race Director for Ski Jumping, answered some questions about the premiere and the current state of the discipline.

How come the first Nordic World Ski Championships in Ladies' Ski Jumping are held at Liberec 2009?

Walter Hofer: "It is still a very young discipline, even though it is undergoing rapid development. There have always been a few girls who managed to jump on larger hills also at an adult age. However, specific development programs have only existed for a few years in a selected number of National Ski Associations. The 2009 World Championship is therefore the next evolutionary step."

How many nations will participate?

Walter Hofer: According to the entries, some 39 ladies from 13 nations will participate.

Besides the World Championships are there other international competitions for the ski jumping ladies?

Walter Hofer: There has been an international series for five seasons now, called FIS Continental Cup, same as for the men. For four years now, we have carried out the ladies' Junior World Championships in Ski Jumping, and those are showing growing numbers of participants. FIS has also organized several international youth competitions.

According to which rules do they jump?

Walter Hofer: The international competition rules for Ski Jumping have been formulated completely gender neutral and are thus equally valid for the men and ladies. In addition, there are special provisions for carrying out the FIS Ladies Continental Cup..

Does this also concern the competition material?

Walter Hofer: In principal yes, only for the jumping suit there are some marginal adjustments.

On what size of hills do they jump?

Walter Hofer: The FIS Council has defined the hill size as the normal hill or smaller, at the request of the coaches,.

How do you personally see the current stage of development of this young discipline?

Walter Hofer: The sporting value is a hundred percent given. However, we still have a very young average age of the competitors. At this point, it remains important to observe whether the participant numbers can be maintained when the competitors reach adolescence. We hope for corresponding programs in the National Ski Associations.

Is there a male or even female Race Director for the ladies?

Walter Hofer: Right from the start, the ladies' series has been accompanied by a FIS Coordinator. In this context, I would like to express my gratitude and praise the work of our colleague, Edgar Ganster (AUT). As the father of Eva Ganster and as FIS Coordinator for the Continental Cup series he made important contributions to the development of ladies' Ski Jumping. After his retirement, this position was taken over by our female colleague Chika Yoshida (JPN).

When will we get to see the first Ladies Ski Jumping World Cup?

Walter Hofer: I believe that these World Championships serve as a type of positioning for the future. It will be up to the National Ski Associations to approach the FIS Council with further development ideas.

Contributed by Liberec 2009

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