News from the World of Skiing 

  Roller Ski season underway ... more

  Czech Republic hosts the FIS Grass Ski Junior World Championships ... more

  Alpine competition season starts Down Under ... more

  WADA: New Anti-Doping Books for Children available ... more


 Inside FIS 

  Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined: Pilot of new Ski Jumping rules at Summer Grand Prix ... more

  Update on the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2011 ... more

  IDE Technologies offers excursion during FIS Autumn Meeting ... more


 In Depth  

  Interview with Walter Hofer: "Luck still plays too important a role" ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

Roller Ski season underway
Alfio di Gregorio (ITA)
Photo: Pierre Teyssot
BLINKfestivalen

Five competitions have already been held in the Roller Ski World Cup 2009. The three races in Orolavje, Croatia at the end of June were followed by two competitions in Markkleeberg (GER) in mid-July. On both weekends the athletes could race in excellent conditions in various competition formats from sprint, pursuit, uphill competitions to mass start races. Currently the lead of the men's overall ranking is held by roller ski veteran Alfio Di Gregorio from Italy with 295 points, who includes two victories on his account. The runner up on the men's side is Ragnar Bragvin Andresen (NOR), only 36 points behind. For the ladies, Mateja Bogatec from Italy is leading the overall ranking after five competitions, 35 points ahead of the newcomer Anna Lazareva (RUS). The growing interest in the Roller Ski World Cup is demonstrated by the Nations Cup ranking which is led by Italy with athletes from a total of 15 nations who have so far earned World Cup points.

The Roller Ski World Cup will continue from 6th - 9th August in Aure and Kristiansand in Norway where several high class events with TV coverage will also feature top Cross-Country stars like Virpi Kuitunen (FIN), Charlotte Kalla (SWE), Petter Northug (NOR), Sami Jauhojärvi (FIN) and Vincent Vittoz (FRA).

Already this weekend, an invitational event for Cross-Country skiers will take place in Norway: during the traditional BLINKfestivalen, free technique distance and sprint roller ski races will be carried out together with biathlon events in Sandnes (NOR). Numerous World Cup athletes from Scandinavia and Central Europe will compete there on 31st July - 1st August.

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Czech Republic hosts the FIS Grass Ski Junior World Championships 2009

The FIS Grass Ski Junior World Championships are about to return to the Czech Republic after three years since it last hosted the event in 2006. The organizing committee of the Sport Club TJ STAR Suche Lazce will host the season's main event for the young Grass Ski talents from 29th July to 2nd August, 2009 in Horni Lhota, not far from Ostrava in the western part of the Czech Republic. The program of this year's championships includes super combined, super-G, giant slalom and slalom races. In total 53 athletes from 9 nations in Europe and Asia will take on the challenge and try to win a medal in Horni Lhota this week.

Grass Skiing's history began in the 1960's. The leading nations are Italy, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Japan. The season consists of World Cup races and World Championships besides the FIS Junior World Championships . This year's FIS Grass Ski World Championships will be held in Rettenbach (AUT) at the beginning of September. 

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Alpine competition season starts Down Under
Cardrona (NZL)

While many in the Northern Hemisphere are relaxing on the beach or enjoying the summer holidays in the mountains, the winter season in the southern hemisphere is in full swing. As reported in the FIS Newsflash, the Cross-Country competition season started two weeks ago and now it is time for the Alpine athletes to launch their competition season. In Cardrona, which is located on the southern part of New Zealand, the first FIS Alpine races will be held early next week, followed by several other FIS races in Australia and New Zealand. Athletes from 15 nations have been entered to start in the season opening Cardrona race. The Australia/New Zealand Cup, one of the five Alpine Inter-Continental Cup programs, will be getting underway in the middle of August in Mt. Hotham (AUS). Mt Hotham will also host the start of the Snowboard season in Down Under in 1,5 weeks.

For all upcoming competitions in Southern hemisphere, the racers can count on excellent conditions. Most of New Zealand's ski areas are sitting on healthy bases of 1-2m of snow, with a nice dusting of powder on top. Resorts in Australia report around 1 m snow and great conditions. Time to enjoy snow sports in Down Under!  

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WADA: New Anti-Doping Books for Children available

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has partnered with Chooseco, a publisher of interactive children's books, to publish two titles focused on good decision-making and sport values.

The objective of the books is to present the reader with difficult, realistic decisions in competitive sports, including choices about doping and cheating. The title aimed at younger readers (Always Picked Last) examines issues of cheating. The multiple choices in each title lead to multiple endings.

In Track Star - for readers aged 12 years and older - the reader is the main character, a talented young runner who believes that their only shot at a university education is through an athletic scholarship. As the pressure mounts, the reader is led to question whether cutting corners using performance-enhancing substances or supplements would be worth the risk. As he or she seeks advice from coaches, teammates, friends and even parents, the story is brought down different paths.

In Always Picked Last - for readers 8-12 years of age - the reader is a young elf who is always picked last. The main idea of the book is that it is possible to gain confidence by being good at something that no one else does.

These two books are available now in English and French. Please click here for further information 

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 Inside FIS 

Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined: Pilot of new Ski Jumping rules at Summer Grand Prix
Important: length of the inrun
Photo: Nordic Focus
Other important part: wind
Photo: Nordic Focus

Professional Ski Jumping in the last few decades can be described in one sentence: the best athlete in the field determines the inrun length. The philosophy behind this is the following: all athletes (in individual events) should use the same inrun length during any given round of competition. Exceptional athletes such as Matti Nykänen (FIN), Jens Weißflog (GER), Janne Ahonen (FIN) etc. have been particularly good at leaving other competitors behind thanks to this system - they were still able to keep flying when others had landed just after the knoll of the hill.

This will no longer be the case for at least for the immediate future. A new set of rules, designed to shake Ski Jumping's foundations, will be tested during the Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Summer Grand Prix 2009, starting on the 8th August, 2009.

The background for this pilot phase is the rule requiring each jumper to have the same inrun length during any given competition round. This means that at the very beginning of a competition round, the jury has to decide on the starting gate for the inrun speed to be used for the round. According to the current rules, no gate change is allowed even though the external conditions can change. But now, thanks to the work of several experts, the influence of the two main factors (wind and inrun speed) can be evaluated and standardized. Using a new formula ,the jury can change the length of the inrun without a restart of the entire competition round being necessary.

Hans-Heini Gasser, member of the FIS Sub-Committee for Jumping Hills, developed the basic formula ("f value") used for calculating the relationship between inrun length and distance jumped. The f value has to be calculated for each hill separately, as they are all constructed differently. The f value determines how many meters are jumped per 1m inrun on any particular hill.

Also the factor "wind" was included in the calculation. There will be no wind-corridor in these tests, the wind conditions will be calculated for each athlete individually and in real-time. The first jumper provides the basic value. If the following jumper then has better or worse conditions, his coefficient will be higher or lower. For detailed information of the calculation please click here.

Jouko Tormänen, Chairman of FIS Ski Jumping Committee said: "We are working towards greater security and fairness in our sport, but it is always difficult to say in advance what the outcome of changes in rules might be. For sure, the new rules have to bring big benefits to Ski Jumping to justify their possible use next winter. It is also important that a wide audience can understand what's going on, and this could cause the biggest problem."

Contributed by Egon Theiner & Horst Nilgen

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Update on the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2011

After the rebuilding of the Kandahar course, one of the two main pistes for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2011 in Garmisch-.Partenkirchen, the GAP 2011 Organizing Committee will now realize a new starting house which should be ready for the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Finals in March 2010.

In the course of constructing the new Kreuzjochbahn, the Ski Club Garmisch had the chance to also complete this project. Work on the brand-new start house will commence at the beginning of August. "With the new start house, the Kandahar will get a great eye-catcher while we develop our infrastructure for the upcoming World Cup events and the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships," said Peter Fischer, President of the Ski Club Garmisch and CEO of the OC GAP 2011.   

"Besides a waiting area for athletes and staff, the planning also includes toilets and storage facilities as well as necessary preparations for ensuring high quality TV coverage. The building will be equipped with environmental energy and building service engineering," Fischer added.

The OC GAP 20011 is also busy at work for barrier-free FIS World Ski Championships. The basic idea is that disabled persons should enjoy the snow festival just like everybody else. The slogan is "In mainstream instead of just present"! The project needs a lot of input. Currently many steps and action items are being checked and some will be implemented in the preparation for the World Cup Finals 2010. One of the biggest challenges is the way into the stadium. "Snow and mud are a big handicap for wheelchair users in the winter. Therefore the key is the shorter the distance the better for disabled persons as well as for the organizer, who can save human resources, material and effort," explained project leader Stefan Deuschl, who is himself a wheelchair user and joined the OC in winter 2009.

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IDE Technologies offers excursion during the FIS Autumn Meeting
Pitztal
Photo: Pitztaler Gletscherbahn

During the FIS Autumn Meetings, scheduled from 23rd to 27th September 2009 at the Hotel Hilton Zurich Airport, specialist company IDE Technologies invites FIS committee members and other participants at the meetings to visit Pitztal (AUT) to have a detailed look at their All Weather Snowmaker system technology. This new technology provides a unique, environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient solution that produces large quantities of high-quality snow for a reliable, long and uninterrupted ski season. From 22nd to 26th September, IDE Technologies will provide a shuttle bus leaving at 8.30h in the morning in front of the hotel to go to Pitztal, returning in the late afternoon after a short demonstration, presentation and lunch. Registrations for the excursion will be taken every evening (starting with 21st) for the next excursion day directly on-site (Hotel Hilton). For detailed information please contact Mr. Tessel Moshet (Moshet@ide-tech.com) and visit the website here .

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 In Depth  

Interview with Walter Hofer: "Luck still plays too important a role"
Walter Hofer
Photo: Horst Nilgen

Walter Hofer (54) is FIS Head of Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined and the man behind the idea of what might become the biggest revolution in the rules of Ski Jumping. The new rules will be tested at the upcoming Summer Grand Prix in Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined.

When and how did you become conscious of the need to change the philosophy of every jumper using the same inrun during a round?

Hofer: We held a number of events during the season - Kulm, Vancouver, Oberstdorf, Lillehammer - which we got through with a queasy feeling in our stomachs. Horst Nilgen, FIS Media Coordinator, said to me in Vikersund: "This can't go on any further. You must think of something". His words were a signal, as Nilgen looks at the system from the outside, but is also aware of what is happening within the ski jumping scene. At any rate, this comment was the final justification for me to discuss this matter with the FIS Jumping Committee.

What further steps were taken?

Hofer: We got the necessary persons in touch with each other: Hans-Heini Gasser from the Sub-Committee on Jumping Hills, who makes the hill calculations; FIS Ski Jumping expert Prof. Gerhard Hochmuth; hill constructor Wolfgang Happle; Assistant Race Director Miran Tepes; Enrico Richter from Swiss Timing Data Service and others. At the same time, I spoke to Dieter Thoma and Andreas Goldberger, as we wanted to hear the opinions of former ski jumpers who are now TV commentators on our new plans. Both were enthusiastic.

What was the feedback from the FIS Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Committees at the beginning of April?

Hofer: Both groups were in favor of tests during the summer, but also mentioned a full range of "ifs" and "buts". It will be particularly important to see if the new points system will raise transparency for the public.

The trainer tower should be the main base for coaches so that they can decide on the inrun for their athletes.

Hofer: Yes, though it has been made clear that there will be no increase in start platform changes. We believe that the trainers will get involved maybe three or four times during the 30 competitions. The jury will get more negotiation space in extreme situations thanks to the new rules and can move the bar up and down, while trainers can only shorten the inrun. The luck factor will be more controllable. In addition, we are considering preventing trainers from making changes to avoid delays if weather conditions dictate it - e.g. snowfall. Thus, we can avoid possible irritations from getting in the way of a round. It is also clear that the new system cannot compensate for different conditions on the inrun. When, for example, the inrun is slower due to snowfall, we simply cannot lengthen it, as the athlete would be automatically put at a disadvantage, according to our mathematical formula.

Do you think that these rule changes will be used in winter?

Hofer: We aren't expecting anything at the moment. We are testing these changes in the summer, are doing our field trials, and hope to gain new insights through this. Maybe, there will be a partial alteration in the current World Cup regulations, or maybe we will throw the new rules out. We only know it would be a great leap forward - at least on paper -- in terms of safety and fairness in Ski Jumping.

Contributed by Egon Theiner & Horst Nilgen

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