|News from the World of Skiing|
|News from the World of Skiing|
| Gregor Schlierenzauer|
The Nordic media representatives within the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) have again selected the "King of Nordic Skiing" and the "Biathlete of the Year". With a great majority, Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer was voted as the "2009 Nordic King" while Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR) received the respective biathlon honor. The season's record jumper Schlierenzauer received a total of 405 votes from the specialist journalists and finished clearly ahead of the World Cup and Tour de Ski winner, Dario Cologna (SUI)˙with 244 votes. Three-time world champion Petter Northug (NOR) took 3rd with 218 votes, just ahead of the best female skier Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) who received 212 votes and finished 4th.
|Tor Arne Hetland (NOR) |
|Alain Baxter & Scottish tradition|
Photo: Mitch Gunn
Shortly before training for the new season starts, we have put together a summary of top athletes who have announced their retirement, along with some high-profile comebacks. Relatively few athletes have chosen to shift gears ahead of the 2010 Olympic season which will be followed by another FIS World Championships winter in 2011.
In Cross-Country we will miss two great male skiers: Tor Arne Hetland (NOR) and Gion-Andrea Bundi (SUI). The 35-year-old veteran Hetland retired because of a lingering knee injury and asthma."I feel like I am quitting while I am at the top," he said. Hetland made significant sprint history, being the first sprint world champion in 2001, the first Olympic champion in sprint in 2002 as well as the first world champion in team sprint in 2005. 32-year-old Bundi represented Switzerland in five FIS Nordic World Ski Championships since 1999 and will best be remembered for his victory in the Engadin Ski Marathon in 2005.
The main retirement news in Ski Jumping comes from Finland where Tami Kiuru announced that he will step down. For many years, Kiuru was one of the main contributors to numerous team medals at title events and also won an individual bronze medal in the Ski Flying World Championships in 2004.The biggest comeback news also comes from Finland as one of the greatest jumpers in history, Janne Ahonen, announced his comeback for the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games.
In Alpine Skiing, a few well-known names have announced their retirement: Among those, Thomas Grandi of Canada retired definitely after a renewed effort to return to racing this season with the goal of winning an Olympic medal on home ground. For Grandi, the family will enjoy top priority in the future. In Austria, three members of the ladies' team have announced the end of their careers: after Christine Sponring (combined silver at 2001 worlds), Silvia Berger and Ingrid Rumpfhuber (both Austrian A team) have also decided to focus on life after skiing. In France, Joel Chenal, the 2006 Olympic giant slalom silver medalist, and Frdric Covili, the GS specialist who won world championship bronze in St Anton in 2001, have nailed up their skis, while in the United States, Eric Schlopy˙(2003˙giant slalom bronze medalist in St Moritz)˙and Kevin Francis announced retirement. The best British male skier for many years, Scot Alain Baxter, who recorded four top ten World Cup finishes and will be best remembered for winning and then losing an Olympic medal, is another skier deciding to call it quits and is joined by Monika Bergmann of Germany, a three time junior world championship medalist who scored six World Cup podiums in her career.
In terms of comebacks, Kalle Palander of Finland, the 1999 slalom world champion, who sat out the entire season has confirmed his intentions to return for the Olympic Games. Encouraging news were also received from Bern (SUI) where Daniel Albrecht met the press for the first time on Wednesday since his severe crash in Kitzbhel in January and was able to leave the hospital to return home after three months of intensive hospital care.
|Champions Origone & Tidstrand|
|Sanna Tidstrand (SWE) |
The FIS Speed Skiing World Cup concluded in Verbier (SUI) last week. Sanna Tidstrand (SWE) won the season's final competition on Thursday taking home the ladies' World Cup. It was her second consecutive title after she dominated the season's series by winning 7 out of 7 races. The margin to the second place was a record in itself! Karine Dubouchet (FRA) proved a worthy second place in the ladies' competition, and Tracie Sachs (USA) - five-time former WC champion - surprised the pundits by coming back from injury to take a podium place in each of the four competitions she entered, and finishing in 3rd place overall
The mens' S1 competition was equally one-sided, with Italian Simone Origone maintaining his grip on all bar one of the six mens' World Cup races, the `Cervinia' being annulled because of poor weather. As a consequence, he became, once again, the clear World Cup champion to add to his World Championship victory earlier in the season. Second place in the S1 category was awarded to Philippe May (SUI), who demonstrated dogged perseverance, and consistency, in picking up four second places on his way. A number of other competitors caused surprise, principally Bastien Montes (FRA), who won the Salla race, and gave Philippe a very close run for his second ranks, and new-comer Finn-Arne Stavik (NOR), who only just skirted the podium in most events. Although Merijn Vunderink (NED) fell and injured himself in the final run of the final race, he still managed to come fifth overall.
There were disappointingly few ladies in the downhill category for this first full season, but the men fielded ever greater numbers, demonstrating how much support this entry-level event enjoys. However, for much of the season it was a `two-horse-race' between Gunther Foild of Austria and Marc Poncin from Great Britain, who were joined by newcomers Charles-Edward Queyras (FRA) and Brian Morris (USA) later in the competition, and Jan Magnusson (SWE) nearly upset the order when the circuit raced in Sweden. However, the final order saw Foidl take the title ahead of Poncin.
The world's sports media will gather in Milan (ITA)˙this week for the 72nd Congress of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS). More than 350 sports journalists are expected from the 116 nations who have registered for the annual gathering˙from 29th April - 3rd May.
FIS President Gian Franco Kasper will join other representatives of the world of sport such as Lamine Diack, President of IAAF (Athletics), International Basketball Federation (FIBA) secretary general Patrick Baumann, Hein Verbruggen, president of Sportaccord, Ottavio Cinquanta, president of the International Skating Federation (ISU), and Mino Auletta, President of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), to mention just a few of the sports leaders presenting to the delegates. This year's congress will see the quadrennial elections for the AIPS executive committee. Current AIPS President Gianni Merlo is unopposed and thereby certain to lead the organization for another four-year term.
|Young citizen racer|
The 3rd edition of the international youth citizen races, entitled the Young FIS Citizen International Cup, was carried out in the communities of Sauze, Barcelonnette and Praloup (FRA). More than 200 competitors and their families representing 12 different nations gathered to compete under perfect weather conditions on the first weekend of April. The participating youngsters were born between 1994-1997. For the results, click here.
The idea of the youth citizen races developed following the example of the French Ski Association which has organized a French Cup for Young Citizen Racers for several years. The French national series was opened to international participation for the first time in 2007. In 2008, the international event was taken under FIS tutelage and renamed the Young FIS Citizen International Cup. The third series this season featured a speed race (super-G) for the first time, in addition to slalom and giant slalom races as well as a Nations Cup.
"The Young FIS Citizen International Cup races are important for promoting sports, especially the ski sports, to youngsters. This is why we are so pleased about the support by FIS for our efforts. We in our Sub-Committee are working hard to convince additional National Ski Association to carry out similar events," commented Urs Dietrich, Chairman of the FIS Sub-Committee for Alpine Citizen Racers.
|Medical Committee leadership|
Photo: Joe Fitzgerald
A FIS Research Seminar on Safety and Injuries took place on 28th - 29th April 2009 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER) in conjunction with the 2009 Congress of the International Society for Skiing Safety (ISSS; for more information, visit www.isss2009.com). The ISSS Congress focuses on safety aspects and injury prevention both in recreational and competitive skiing. The FIS seminar, staged by the FIS Medical Committee headed by Dr. Hubert Hrterer, was designed to provide an update on the current state of safety in top level skiing. The 25 presenters examined the topic from different perspectives, including Joseph T. Fitzgerald, FIS Freestyle Coordinator, who presented an overview on injuries in competitive skiing from a Race Director's perspective, and Professor Roald Bahr, Chair of the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, who discussed the principles of injury prevention research applied to FIS World Cup skiing and snowboarding. The two main focus areas of presentation were knee injuries and concussions.
Funded by a generous grant by dj Orthopaedics, a global specialist in rehabilitation and regeneration products, the so-called FIS Injury Surveillance System project has just completed its third full season. The long-term goal of the FIS ISS is to find out why and how injuries occur and thereby reduce the number of injuries among elite FIS competitors. This past season the project was extended to a systematical analysis of mechanisms of skiing injuries with the help of video tapes.
On the invitation of FIS, TV producers representing the main Central European and Nordic broadcasters along with FIS timing and data partner Swiss Timing and Infront Sports & Media, the rights management agency, gathered in Zrich for a seminar focused on Alpine Skiing TV productions. One of the main topics was a review of the new Broadcaster's Manual, with special focus on differences in production philosophy and identifying areas where further improvement is still needed.
Other specific topics included TV graphics used by the FIS World Cup host broadcasters as well as what is needed to standardize the quality of TV production for the entire World Cup series.
Wessel Bosman, President of one of the newest FIS member nations, Lesotho (member since the 2006 FIS Congress in Cape Town), visited the FIS Office in Oberhofen last week. Development of the Alpine Skiing infrastructure at the country's sole ski resort AfriSki is underway and the brand-new Snowboard Park will celebrate its grand opening on 13th June 2009. In addition, the Lesotho Ski Association is determined also to develop facilities for Cross-Country Skiing in the future. Thanks to the ski area's location at 3222m above sea level in the Maluti Mountains, the plans include the development of a high-altitude training center for endurance athletes. For more information, visit www.afriski.net ˙
The FIS Doping Panel has found that Lebanese Alpine skier Georges Salameh committed an anti-doping rule violation contrary to article 2.1 of the FIS Anti-Doping Rules. Salameh has tested positive for the use of the prohibited substance Benzoylecgonine (metabolite of cocaine), identified on the WADA Prohibited List 2009 in class S6.a Non Specified Stimulants, during a doping control on 12th February 2009 in Val d'Isre (FRA).
For a first time violation, the athlete was sanctioned to a two-year period of ineligibility. The period of ineligibility commences as from the date of the hearing decision, 20th April 2009, with credit given, pursuant to article 10.9.3, for the period of the provisional suspension as from 17th February 2009 until 19th April 2009. Consequently, the athlete is ineligible to participate in any capacity in an event or activity authorized or organized by FIS or any National Ski Association from 20th April 2009 until 17th February 2011. Pursuant to article 10.8, in addition to the automatic disqualification of the results in the competition which produced the positive sample, all other competitive results obtained from the date that the positive sample was obtained are disqualified, along with the forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.
The FIS Doping Panel decision may be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
|Toni Sailer awarded by Peter Schrcksnadel|
Photo: Erich Spiess
Austrian ski legend Toni Sailer was honored last week at the 35th Interalpin trade fair in Innsbruck with the so-called "Snow Crystal of the Snow Sports" prize awarded by the Austrian Ski Association (OeSV). This award, created by OeSV in 1992, is given to a person or organization in recognition of their extraordinary contributions to the popularization of the sport of skiing.
Sailer wrote ski history by winning three gold medals at the 1956 Olympic Winter Games and also amassed seven world championship titles during his ski career. In addition, he became known as an actor, singer, President of the Kitzbhel Ski Club, technical director of the OeSV and long-time Chairman of the FIS Alpine Committee.
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