News from the World of Skiing 

  Austria dominates FIS Grand Prix Ski Jumping ... more

  9th edition of FIS Nordic Combined Summer Grand Prix starts in Kandersteg (SUI) ... more

  Australia New Zealand Cup 2006 Cross-Country in action ... more


 Member News 

  After Torino 2006: Pragelato into the future-3,2,1..GO! ... more

  (Re)connecting Freestyle alumni ... more


 In Depth 

  Voices of Committee Chairmen, Part 3

Claude Savard, Midori Poppe, Urs Schpbach ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

Austria dominates FIS Grand Prix Ski Jumping
Andreas Kofler (AUT)
Atmosphere at Saku Suverull (EST)

The third and fourth competitions in the summer series were won by Olympic silver medalist Andreas Kofler (AUT), who triumphed in difficult conditions in Einsiedeln (SUI) on Saturday, August 12th, and by his teammate, reigning Junior World Champion Gregor Schlierenzauer, who took his first-ever victory in Courchevel (FRA) on August 14th.

Kofler also won the first edition of the Four Nations Grand Prix which included Hinterzarten (GER), Predazzo (ITA), Einsiedeln (SUI), and Courchevel (FRA), winning four gold bars worth 12'000 Swiss Francs. Thanks to his success in France, 16-year-old Schlierenzauer rose to the third place in the Four Nations Grand Prix final standings, narrowly behind Adam Malysz (POL). The current strength of Austria is also evident in the tournament rankings: after four competitions, there are five Austrians in the top eight!

The FIS Grand Prix Ski Jumping will continue in Zakopane (POL) on August 26th where also the third and last competition in the FIS Youth Cup will be staged. As in Hinterzarten, the Einsiedeln Grand Prix was preceded by a FIS Youth Cup in which 34 12 to 14 year-old juniors representing seven nations competed on the 70 meter hill.

In Otep„„ (EST), the 2006 Saku Suverull roller skiing & running duathlon turned into a solo-performance by home favorite Kristina Smigun, now a nine-time winner of this training season fitness test. Smigun even had time to address the crowd through a microphone at the end of the second-to-last lap! On the men's side, the 2004-winner Anders S”dergren (SWE) triumphed in a tight race in which the top seven men finished within 9.9 seconds. Over 4000 spectators had gathered to cheer the impressive field of World Cup skiers, including several Turin medal winners.

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9th edition of FIS Nordic Combined Summer Grand Prix starts in Kandersteg
Klingenthal new hill

Ten nations will compete at international top level in the 9th FIS Nordic Combined Summer Grand Prix. All in all, 86 athletes will take part in the five events in ten days. The Summer Grand Prix will start with an Individual Gundersen competition (15km) in Kandersteg (SUI) on August 18th, followed by a mass start event at the Four-Hills-Tournament venue Bischofshofen (AUT) on August 20th. Not far from there, in Berchtesgaden (GER), the next competition (Team Sprint) will take place on August 23rd. The Summer Grand Prix will end in Germany with an Individual Gundersen competition in Steinbach-Hallenberg / Oberhof (August 25th) and another mass start in Klingenthal (August 27th). For Steinbach-Hallenberg / Oberhof, it will be the 9th time hosting a Summer Grand Prix competition, thereby being the only venue that has hosted the Summer Grand Prix every year. As in previous years, all competitions will be held on inline skates.

In Klingenthal (GER), the occasion of the Summer Grand Prix will also serve as the official inauguration of the new ski jumping hill at the Vogtland Arena. The hill has already been used at last year's World Cup B and many teams, like the Austrian, German and French ones, used the new facilities for training in June and July. Bj”rn Kircheisen (GER), the record six-time Junior World Champion who comes from the nearby town of Johanngeorgenstadt, praised the new hill: "It is great. The new, modern profile especially helps technique training, and having such a great hill just around the corner will definitely help me prepare for next season."

The Finnish team around Hannu Manninen, training in Ramsau, and the Japanese team will not take part in this year's Summer Grand Prix. However, last year's overall Grand Prix winner Christoph Bieler (AUT) will try to defend his title. He will be challenged especially by Petter Tande and Magnus Moan (both NOR) as well as the German team around Olympic Champion Georg Hettich (GER) and Jason Lamy Chappuis of France. Team Germany will again be the biggest squad with about 27 participants.

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Australia New Zealand Cup 2006 Cross-Country in action
ANC at Snow Farm (NZE)
Photo: Pete Vordenberg, USSA

The 2006 Australia New Zealand Cup (ANC) for Cross-Country Skiing kicked off on August 5th. This year's ANC has four events in Australia and three in New Zealand, concluding with Australia's Worldloppet event-the Kangaroo Hoppet-on August 26th.

2005 ANC Champions Ben Sim and Esther Bottomley (both AUS) are keen to defend their titles, though they are facing significant competition this time around. At the first races at Perisher Valley (AUS), Bottomley started well winning the Australian Sprint Championships; yet it was French skier Geoffroy Pais who came from behind to win the men's sprint.

This past weekend, the series moved to The Snow Farm (NZE) that has had above average snowfall this season. The US Ski Team posed a real challenge at the round of racing there. In the sprint, Andrew Newell led the charge by winning the men's final, Kate Underwood did the same in the ladies while all the podium spots were filled by US skiers. In the freestyle distance race, Brian McKeever (CAN) won while in the classical style the winner was Andrew Johnson (USA). Samantha Bondarenko (NZE) triumphed in both freestyle and classical races on the ladies' side.

Next weekend, the ANC will return to Australia for competitions at Falls Creek, north-east of Melbourne. Here several Swiss skiers will join the competition, including the 2006 Engadin Ski Marathon winner Natascia Leonardi-Cortesi as one of favorites. While Bottomley, who did not race in New Zealand, will be back, Bondarenko's lead is strong. As the US skiers are not planning to race in Australia, Sim and Pais are likely to be the main two contenders for the men's ANC. For more, please see the Australian Cross Country Skiing Website.

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 Member News 

After Torino 2006: Pragelato into the future-3,2,1..GO!

20th July 2006 became an important date in the history of Ski Jumping in Pragelato, the site of the XX Olympic Winter Games-Torino 2006. On that date, the practice hills (HS15 - HS32 - HS66) were officially inaugurated and many young boys and girls embarked on the beautiful experience of Ski Jumping.

The local Ski Clubs are currently training in Pragelato on a couple of days weekly. In the first two weeks, more that 100 kids jumped on the two smallest hills. The total number of jumps so far already amount to more than 2.000! For their first jumps, the young athletes all use alpine skis. But after these test jumps, they prefer to transition to real ski jumping skis in order to experience all the emotions of a real ski jumper.

In addition to the young ski jumpers, athletes from national Alpine Skiing teams have used the Pragelato facilities for training camps. For example, the Spanish Downhill C Team used the hills to improve their jumps for the next winter season.

The Pragelato Ski Jumping arena is the first site that has entered into the so-called 'post-Olympic phase.' The multifunctional support building is now ready to host teams for training camps. The Italian Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined 'family' will use this center for common monthly training camps available to all Italian Ski Clubs so as to promote the sport that has limited tradition in some areas of the country. Clearly, the new Pragelato training center presents a significant opportunity for the Italian Winter Sport Federation!

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(Re)connecting Freestyle alumni
Jumpin, Mettmenstetten (SUI)

The Canadian Freestyle Association, the body that governs the discipline of Freestyle Skiing under the Canadian Snowsports Association, has set up on its website a special section for Freestyle Alumni. Launched on the initiative of Bill Keenan, the 1983 FIS World Cup moguls Champion, the Freestyle Alumni Re-connect is a source for ex-athletes, volunteers, judges and officials within the Freestyle Skiing world to keep in touch or, as the case may be, to reconnect with people from the past. Presently, there are registered alumni from seven different nations, including many American, French, German, and Finnish skiers. To peruse the list of alumni that are already members or to join, please click here.

The Freestyle Skiing actives and alumni also have a chance to reconnect this coming Friday, August 19th, at the `10 Years Jumpin / World Masters Party' at Mettmenstetten, near Zurich (SUI). The Mettmenstetten water jump Jumpin was initiated by Sonny Sch”nb„chler, 1994 aerials Olympic Champion, and opened in August 1996. In the past ten years, the Jumpin facility has become one of the best-known training centers for ski acrobats, snowboarders and now even mountain bikers from around Europe. Friday's party program then will include live acts and music performances in the presence of such ex-Freestyle stars as Conny Kissling, Heini Baumgartner, Erika Gallizzi, Henri Rohner, Franco Zanolari, Colette 'Brand' Roth, Eveline (Wirth) Schnorf˙(all SUI), Christian Rijavec and Alex Stoegner (both AUT), Fuzzy Garhammer (GER) and Michiel de Ruiter (NED).

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 In Depth 

Voices of Committee Chairmen, Part 3
Claude Savard (CAN)

In this third and last part of the series, the FIS Newsflash is proud to present the thoughts of another three new Committee Chairmen following their appointment in Vilamoura (POR):

Claude Savard - New Chairman of the Sub-Committee for Nor-Am Cup

"The good news for our Sub-Committee is that the Nor-Am Cup (NAC) circuit is healthy and the 2006/07 program under control. Some years ago, we decided to focus on improving the quality of the circuit. While we still have room for improvement, most of our objectives have been achieved. Thanks for this go to my fellow Executive Committee members Walter Evans and Bob Dart for USA, and Julie Lemieux (CAN). So far, we have been successful at maintaining leadership stability. We now have to ensure that stability does not prevent creativity!

In the near future, we'll have a few challenges, including:
 Implementation of super combined as of this season
 Increasing marketing value of our events (and reintroducing consistent basis awards)
 Securing speed events and offering the OCs operational conditions that allow them to run events without taxing their club operations

Under the leadership of Oskar Fischer, the Sub-Committee for Intercontinental Cups has succeeded at harmonizing the rules. However, one of our common challenges remains the ability to increase marketing revenues to enable the growth of the sport. For this, we need highly competitive Cups globally. While equal from an organizational perspective, significant differences remain among the Cups in terms of athletic performance. At NAC, we still need to enhance our relative athletic strength. We'll work towards this goal in the next two years. But the long-term solution involves all the Cups, which will need to become a real second league everywhere!

We also need to be aware of global warming. We're already seeing some of its effects as shorter seasons in some areas and as changes in weather patterns which make it difficult to produce much artificial snow rapidly. While we all have a responsibility to minimize the impact of global warming, as a Committee we will have to manage its impact on our program over the years."

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Urs Schpbach (SUI)

Urs Schpbach - New Chairman of the FIS Sub-Committee for University Racers

"The first Alpine Skiing races among university students took place under the leadership of Sir Arnold Lunn from Great Britain in Mrren (SUI) over 80 years ago. The FIS Sub-Committee for University Racers, together with the university sports associations and the FISU (F‚d‚ration International du Sport), aims to help students and academics continue to play a role in shaping ski racing in the future.

The main focus of the Sub-Committee is supporting alpine ski racing at the university level in Europe, North American and Asia/Oceania. To do that, we need to work even more closely with FISU. We already support the biannual Winter Universiade in technical questions and oversee the application of the International Competition Rules (ICR) in the FIS-UNI European Cup for Alpine Skiing. We would also like to help promote the importance of university ski sports among the FIS family. The experiences collected by young athletes during their studies are very important for their career and for continued involvement in the sport, for example as FIS officials.

The Committee members all must have a close relationship to university ski racing and will need to help build and foster contacts with their national associations. It is very challenging to combine university studies with world class sports achievement, which means that the group of athletes at this level is and will remain small. We will need to work to better understand their specific needs to be able to provide them with an optimal external environment.

Finally, I would personally like to work to grow the importance of the "Prix Matteo Baumgarten" that is awarded to an athlete that has excelled in ski racing while completing university studies."

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Midori Poppe (JPN)

Midori Poppe - New Chairperson of Sub-Committee for Ladies' Cross-Country

"First of all, I am honored to be nominated as new Chairperson of the Sub-Committee for Ladies' Cross-Country. Considering the history of the Committee and the history of ladies' Cross-Country Skiing, I feel the heaviness of the baton I have received from the former Chairperson Barbara Broger (SUI). Yet, as a Japanese woman living in Norway, I combine two different cultures on a daily basis and hope to use this unique position for the benefit of the Committee.

Since the first ski race with female participation took place in Stockholm (SWE) in 1879 and since ladies' Cross-Country was accepted into the Olympic program in Oslo (NOR) in 1952, female Cross-Country skiers have come to enjoy broad international recognition. However, the number of female leaders, trainers, TDs and staff members in most National Ski Associations and FIS Committees remains limited. At the same time, I find it important for all organizations to recognize the benefits provided by different points of view, specifically those of the female perspective.

The main task of our Committee is to develop ladies' Cross-Country at all levels around the world. This year, our main topics include TD matters and ladies' position within FIS. Also, we shall try to support female athletes at all levels. For example, the first-ever "International Seminar for Trainers and Leaders of Female Cross-Country Skiers in Asia" was held in Tokyo (JPN) on 29-30th July 2006. The seminar-first of its kind in Japan in any sport-was a great success. We were very glad to have participants not only from Japan but six from Korea, too. There will be new challenges and issues concerning female athletes, resulting from the many changes Cross-Country has undergone in the last years, so we will keep close contact with elite athletes as well."

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