News from the World of Skiing 

  Liberec 2009 in full swing ... more

  Freestyle skiers ready for season highlight ... more

  Alpine World Cup resumes as Snowboard tours America ... more

  Vonn and Grange lead Alpine prize money rankings ... more

  WADA puts whereabouts requirements in perspective, anticipates launch of Athlete Passport ... more

  2010 venues completed, VANOC begins to implement ... more

 Inside FIS 

  Just few days to go: Inawashiro 2009 ... more

  First FIS Alpine Junior Worlds in Germany to begin in Garmisch-Partenkirchen ... more

  Nagano to host the 2009 Snowboard Junior Worlds ... more

 News from the World of Skiing 

Liberec 2009 in full swing
Virpi Kuitunen & Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN)
Photo: NordicFocus
Lindsey Van (USA)
Photo: NordicFocus

Twelve of the twenty title competitions have been completed at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2009 in Liberec (CZE). Continuing snowfall, rather than the feared lack of snow, has so far been the main characteristic of the event which has been attended by some 90'000 spectators before the final weekend. The team sprint also marked the first time that the traditional Nordic power Norway claimed the top spot in the Liberec medals table with seven, of which three are gold, medals. Until now, the USA has put up a tough challenge and sits in 2nd position with five medals, including three gold.

In Cross-Country Skiing, a few skiers seem to be well on their way in becoming the faces of Liberec 2009. Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) has already collected three medals, including two golds from the opening individual start classical technique race and the team sprint. Norwegian Ola Vigen Hattestad too has earned two golds from the two sprint events while Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk also has two medals, a gold and a bronze, with two more events to go.

Liberec 2009 made history as Lindsey Van (USA) was crowned the first ever ladies' Ski Jumping world champion last week. Austrian veteran and Four-Hills-Tournament champion Wolfgang Loitzl also captured his first major title, shortly after winning his first World Cup event at the traditional Garmisch-Partenkirchen New Year's competition.


Todd Lodwick & Bill Demong (USA)
Photo: NordicFocus
President Kasper receives Senate medal

In Nordic Combined, the star of the two first events has been another American, comeback-kid Todd Lodwick who has yet to find his match in Liberec. Altogether the USA has collected three medals in Nordic Combined as Lodwick was joined on the podium by teammate Bill Demong.

On the only rest day of the championships, Monday 23rd February, the Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, Premysl Sobotka, met with FIS, Organizing Committee and National Ski Association representatives in the Senate. "I have invited FIS officials and representatives of all the 61 participating teams to the Senate to thank them for their good work and show them around the historic premises of the Wallenstein Palace, the seat of the Senate", Sobotka commented. The FIS delegation was led by FIS President Gian Franco Kasper, together with Milan Jirasek, FIS Council Member and Chair of the Czech Olympic Committee and Katerina Neumannova, President of the organizing committee of Liberec 2009. Premysl Sobotka awarded President Kasper with a silver commemorative medal of the Senate for his merits in the development of world skiing while the FIS President expressed his appreciation for Chairman Sobotka's interest in and support for ski sport.


Freestyle skiers ready for season highlight
Ski cross opens Inawashiro World Championships
Photo: Agence Zoom
Alexandre Bilodeau (CAN)
Photo: Mike Ridewood

The last Freestyle FIS World Cup competitions before the FIS Freestyle World Championships 2009 in Inawashiro (JPN) were held in Myrkdalen/Voss (NOR) and Branaes (SWE).

In the men's ski cross, World Cup leader and defending ski cross world champion Tomas Kraus (CZE) collected a win and a fifth place finish and now leads the overall rankings by 95 points over Christopher Delbosco of Canada. Thanks to his win in front of the home crowd in Branaes, Lars Lewen rose to third rank past Andreas Matt (AUT).

In the ladies' competitions, five-time ski cross World Cup champion and reigning 2007 champion Ophelie David of France recorded her third and fourth season wins. She now leads the World Cup rankings by 232 points over Karin Huttary of Austria who was 3rd in Voss and 2nd in Branaes. Ashleigh McIvor of Canada is tied for 3rd in the overall rankings together with Katharina Gutensohn of Austria.

The ski cross World Championship competitions in Inawashiro kick off the title event on 2nd March. There are another 3 ski cross World Cup events scheduled after the Worlds.

In the final moguls competition before the FIS Freestyle World Championships, Japanese superstar Aiko Uemura collected her second season win ahead of Nikola Sudova of the Czech Republic with teammate Miki Ito finishing 3rd. World Cup leading Hannah Kearney of the USA finished sixth while second-ranked Jennifer Heil, the defending dual moguls world champion, took fifth. The world champion title is likely to be a fight among Uemura, Kearney, Heil and Sudova.

In the men's moguls, rankings leader Alex Bilodeau of Canada won already his fourth straight World Cup in Voss clinching˙his first World Cup title. Bilodeau˙is clearly one of the main favorites for title in Japan. Frenchman Guilbaut Colas is ranked 2nd thanks to four podium finishes this season.

For aerials, the World Cup season concluded ten days ago in Moscow (RUS) with Steve Omischl and Lydia Lassila winning the globes while the final half-pipe and moguls competitions will be held at the finals in La Plagne (FRA) in mid-March.


Alpine World Cup resumes as Snowboard tours America
Gina Stecher (GER)
Photo: Agence Zoom
Men's big air podium
Photo: Oliver Kraus/FIS

With scarcely enough time to take a breath, the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup continued in Italy after the Worlds in Val d'IsŠre (FRA). While the men returned to the 2006 Olympic courses in Sestriere, the ladies headed to Tarvisio. There the competitions began on Friday with the season's third and last super combined where Maria Riesch (GER) again displayed her slalom skills by coming from a _ second deficit after the downhill to clinch her 5th season win. Anja Paerson (SWE), who finished fifth, walked away with the small crystal globe with 205 points.

In Saturday's downhill, it was 21-year-old Gina Stechert (GER), whose previous best World Cup finish was a fourth place in the Lake Louise downhill, who took a surprise victory. In the end she beat downhill champion Lindsey Vonn by just one hundredth of a second to score her first major win. On Sunday, with her 19th World Cup career win in the super-G, Vonn finally surpassed Tamara McKinney's record and became the No. 1 American female ski racer of all time. She now has a very healthy lead (299 points) in the overall Cup standings over Maria Riesch (1075 points). The ladies' World Cup continues this weekend in the first-time World Cup venue of Bansko (BUL) in the Pirin Mountains near the Greek border.

In Sestriere, fresh off a couple of medals from the World Championships, Didier Cuche (SUI) grabbed his first World Cup win of the season by taking the giant slalom on Saturday.. Stephan Goergl, who did not make the Austrian Worlds team, led three Austrians in 2nd-4th. In the last of four combined events this season, Romed Baumann claimed his maiden World Cup win. Swiss giant slalom world champion Carlo Janka tied for third and edged teammate Silvan Zurbriggen by nine points for the combined title. The men's tour now continues with a technical weekend in Kranska Gora (SLO) this week.

In the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup, the North American tour continued in Stoneham and Quebec City (CAN) before it draws to a close with two more events at Sunday River (USA), which will celebrate its debut as a World Cup host. In snowboard cross, Cup leaders Lindsey Jacobellis (USA) and Markus Schairer (AUT) also secured victory at Stoneham - after they already won on the 2010 Olympic course at Cypress - and thus grew their lead in SBX rankings. In the half-pipe competition, the Japanese swept the ladies' podium led by 34-year-old Soko Yamaoka while the Canadians celebrated a double victory on the men's side. For Jeff Batchelor it was his second career win. In the first big air in North America in five years and the first ever in Quebec City, Stefan Gimpl (AUT) both claimed victory and secured the small crystal globe for the BA World Cup title already after four competitions. More than 15'000 spectators attended the event.


Vonn and Grange lead Alpine prize money rankings
Lindsey Vonn (USA)
Photo: Agence Zoom
Jean Baptiste Grange (FRA)
Photo: Agence Zoom

The Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup continued last weekend after the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2009 in Val d'IsŠre (FRA). As from the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2011 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the winners will also receive prize money along with their medals and titles as per decision of the 2004 FIS Congress in Miami (USA).

On the ladies' side, the current earnings list is led by three world champions: after 25 of 34 planned events, the double speed champion and World Cup leader Lindsey Vonn (USA) also heads the earnings rankings ahead of her good friend, slalom world champion Maria Riesch and the super combined world champion Kathrin Zettel (AUT). The surprise giant slalom champion Kathrin Hoelzl is only ranked 26th as nine events remain on the schedule.

For the men, the only world champion figuring in the top five is the super combined champ Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR), in fifth place. The list is led by Jean Baptiste Grange of France who failed to win a medal at his home championships despite two excellent chances. Ivica Kostelic, another Val d'IsŠre hopeful who had to pull out due to back problems, is in 2nd place as 28 of 37 events have been completed.

Prize Money earnings 2008/2009 as of Feb 23rd (in CHF):

1. Lindsey Vonn (USA) 349 020
2. Maria Riesch (GER) 316 000
3. Kathrin Zettel (AUT) 218 060
4. Anja P„rson (SWE) 197 525
5. Tanja Poutiainen (FIN) 155 400

1. Jean-Baptiste Grange (FRA) 252 564
2. Ivica Kostelic (CRO) 209 215
3. Didier Defago (SUI) 194 113
4. Benjamin Raich (AUT) 184 991
5. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) 157 378


WADA puts whereabouts requirements in perspective, anticipates launch of Athlete Passport

The fourth annual WADA symposium for the international media was held at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne on Tuesday. Presented against the backdrop of WADA's tenth year of existence (the organization celebrates its 10th anniversary in November 2009) - entitled "Celebrating a decade of play true" - the event saw the participation of WADA leadership, many international federations and dozens of media representatives.

In his opening speech, WADA President, The Hon. Mr Fahey emphasized the importance of continued innovation for future success: "The traditional anti-doping model has evolved from a strategy focusing only on the athlete and relying mainly on testing, research and education, to a new kind of model incorporating also the athlete's entourage and the upstream elements of doping."

Some of the new strategies WADA has implemented recently include the early detection of potentially performance-enhancing substances in cooperation with pharmaceutical companies; a partnership with Interpol, and the involvement of governments to combat production and trafficking of illegal substances. Moreover, President Fahey highlighted as successes several cases of non-analytical anti-doping rule violations that have led to sanctioning of athletes and the fact that successful out-of-competition testing prevented some 70 athletes competing in the Beijing Olympics.

Another new approach is also demonstrated by the so-called Athlete Passport for which WADA is in the process of finalizing and validating an operating manual expected to be concluded very shortly. A universal version of the FIS Blood Profiling program in operation since 2001, the Athlete Passport is designed to detect abnormal variations in athletes' key blood parameters over time. In addition to the blood module, WADA introduced a pilot of an endocrine module to be staged at the IAAF Athletics World Championships in Berlin in 2009. WADA's Director General David Howman called the Athlete Passport close to being launched "a significant step in the fight against doping as it lays out a different form of analysis and provides a way to catch the cheats that we may not have been able to catch otherwise."

Finally, WADA portrayed the new whereabouts requirements that came into effect under the new code as being "less demanding as those applied by several IFs in the past and indicate that most concerns seem to originate in sports with no previous whereabouts programs." It welcomed structured feedback from athletes and other stakeholders as a basis for further discussion.


2010 venues completed, VANOC begins to implement
Photo: IOC/H‚lŠne Tobler

The LG Snowboard FIS World Cup events at Cypress Mountain completed the series of test events in the FIS disciplines for the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010. Starting with the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup races held at Whistler Creekside in February 2008, all six FIS Olympic disciplines have visited next year's Olympic sites. The Snowboard events also marked the one-year-to-go milestone until the 2010 Games which will begin on 12th February 2010.

Last week then marked another important milestone for VANOC, the organizing committee for the 2010 Games, as it announced that all the Vancouver 2010 sport venues had been completed on time and within the $580-million budget. The Vancouver 2010 sport venue program was officially complete on 19th February with the opening of the Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Centre, the venue for curling events during the Games.

After years of planning, VANOC is starting to implement. Representatives of 75 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) were meeting at the Vancouver 2010 Chefs de Mission Seminar last week. Through presentations, working meetings, information booths and venue tours, they were being briefed about various operational aspects which will be crucial for the smooth running of the Games in exactly one year's time. And this week, the World Broadcasters Briefing has been held to provide all the necessary information for the TV partners of the Games. In mid-June, the FIS Council will organize their annual spring meeting in Vancouver with the opportunity to see the venues and state of the preparations first hand. With 352 days to go, the clock is clearly ticking!


 Inside FIS 

Just few days to go: Inawashiro 2009
Mt. Bandai
Photo: OC Inawashiro 2009
Tokyo Snow Style plans

Approximately 520 athletes and coaches from 33 nations, both new record numbers, will be traveling to Inawashiro and Bandai in the Fukushima prefecture (JPN) for the FIS Freestyle World Championships 2009. About 490 media representatives from 78 media organizations from Japan and abroad will be reporting on the competitions as they begin with the opening ceremony on Monday, 2nd March.

The final preparations for the event are underway to welcome people at completed competition sites - both athletes and officials - with "warm Japanese hospitality" and to host a memorable event. In order to realize "living in harmony with nature", the event will be organized with the aim to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to a minimum so as to ensure the least possible impact on nature.

Numerous staff are working on the course preparation every day and the work is on track. Training for volunteers and ceremony rehearsals have already been completed and everything is set up for the event.

On 7th and 8th March, a sports event entitled "Tokyo Snow Style," which is collaboration with the campaign called "I Love Snow" run by the Ski Association of Japan and promotes the global FIS campaign "Bring Children to the Snow", will take place in Tokyo - 300 kilometers from Inawashiro. Video coverage of the moguls and dual moguls competitions at the FIS Freestyle World Championships will be broadcast live on a big video wall at the event site in the center of Tokyo. Visitors can enjoy playing with sledges and a snow mountain, conduct a treasure hunt in the snow and make a snowman as well as enjoy quarter pipe performances by top athletes.

The whole of Japan is now focused on the top Freestyle athletes' great technique and looking forward to dynamic skiing, not least by their very own Aiko Uemura, the defending moguls World Cup champion!

Contributed by OC Inawashiro 2009


First FIS Alpine Junior Worlds in Germany to begin in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

The first FIS Alpine Junior World Ski Championships in Germany will take place in Garmisch-Partenkirchen from 1st-7th March 2009. 350 young alpine ski racers, born 1989-1993, from some 40 nations will be competing for medals in downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and a combined which is a tally of the results in GS, SL and DH.

Several˙of the participating athletes have even already made their mark on the World Cup circuit. Names such as Lara Gut (SUI), Anna Fenninger (AUT), Tessa Worley (FRA), Marcel Hirscher (AUT), Tina Weirather (LIE) and Viktoria Rebensburg (GER), who will be defending three medals from the 2008 championships in Formigal (SPA), are well known from this season's results list at the highest level.

The Junior Worlds have a special importance as one of the major milestones onto the way to the 2011 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The races will be carried out on the courses remodeled for the 2011 event, the slaloms on the Gudiberg, and the other events on the legendary Kandahar. Entry is free and the organizers look forward to great crowds to cheer on the young stars. Walter Vogel, managing director of the event organization commented: "We would like to provide the young athletes a memorable (or unforgettable) time in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and motivate them to continue on their way towards the international elite." Peter Fischer, head of the organizing committee added: "Garmisch-Partenkirchen will provide the youngsters with a proper stage, appropriate for World Championships, to present themselves. The spectators will surely be impressed by the level of their performances."

The opening ceremony will take place on 1st March on the Mohrenplatz, the day of the first competition, the ladies' slalom.


Nagano to host the 2009 Snowboard Junior Worlds
Shiga Kogen near Nagano

Nearly 300 young riders representing some 25 nations will be participating in the 13th FIS Snowboard Junior World Championships in Nagano (JPN) from 3rd to 7th March. After 2006, when the battles for world championship honors were last staged in Asia (Vivaldi Park, Korea), the new generation of athletes, born between 1989 and 1993, will return to the Far East. In the half-pipe competitions athletes born between 1989 and 1995 are qualified to participate.

For the first time, a Japanese host is being entrusted with the task of staging the events to award 24 medals in four of five World Cup disciplines. In Nagano, in the center of Japan's main island, Honshu, about 200 km from Tokyo, the talented snowboarders will compete for the titles in parallel slalom, parallel giant slalom, snowboard cross and half-pipe.

For Snowboard as a discipline, going to Japan also means a return to the site of its first inclusion in the Olympic Winter Games. The first Olympic giant slalom was staged in 1998 on Mt. Yakebitai, whereas the first Olympic half-pipe competitions were held in Kanbayashi. This time, the title battles will be organised by the Shiga Kogen Ski Club in the Chubu Region, in the shadow of Mt. Fuji. Shiga Kogen is the largest ski resort in Japan, lying in the heart of the Johshinetsu Kogen National Park, and has already hosted 12 FIS Alpine World Cup events for men and for ladies. Specifically, the parallel events will be hosted at the Yomase Onsen ski resort, the half-pipe at the Takaifuji ski resort and the snowboard cross competitions at the Ryuoo ski park. In any case, the juniors can surely look forward to being hosted by an excellent crew that is doing its best to provide championships-worthy conditions despite the current warm weather spell.