|News from the World of Skiing|
|The Finnish `eagles' of Zakopane|
Few FIS disciplines took it easy last weekend, but most had a full competition schedule as six venues in four nations hosted a total of 12 World Cup competitions. The weekend's ranking was again led by Austria with 11 podium places, closely followed by Finland with ten and the USA with seven.
In the e-on Ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping in Zakopane (POL), more than 65,000 fans saw the Finnish `eagles' leave only a bronze medal to others as they took a triple victory on Saturday and the first two podium places on Sunday. The last time the Finns managed the same feat was at the Ski Flying World Cup in Oberstdorf in 2001. Sunday's event was overshadowed by the exhibition hall roof tragedy at nearby Katowice and a minute of silence was observed before the competition. A first-time special guest at the event was the four-time Olympic champion Robert Korzeniowski (POL), now the head of sports at TVP, the Polish broadcaster. "During my active career I never had time to see the Ski Jumping World Cup because I was always training in the south in the winter", he said. Korzeniowski was the first athlete to ever win the double of 20 km and 50 km race walking at the Sydney Olympic Summer Games in 2000.
In Seefeld (AUT), Hannu Manninen did what many expected by claiming his 10th and 11th season victories and confirming his third successive overall World Cup victory with six competitions remaining in the FIS World Cup Nordic Combined calendar. Sunday's victory was Manninen's 42nd World Cup victory in total.
In Cortina d'Ampezzo (ITA), the ladies' Audi FIS Alpine World Cup was marked by strong snowfall. Sweden's Anja Prson braved the storm to win Friday's super-G, now having won at least once in four of the five events this season. While Michaela Dorfmeister (AUT) confirmed victory in the overall downhill World Cup on Saturday after finishing 4th, her team mate Renate Goetschl earned her first victory of the season which was also her ninth in Cortina. Nicole Hosp's first victory in more than two years in Sunday's giant slalom on the Olympia delle Tofane course completed a very successful weekend for the Austrian ladies' team.
The World Cup weekend in Cortina also represented the 50th anniversary of the 7th Olympic Winter Games in the resort. On Thursday, the original Olympic torch from 1956 was skied down into the finish by Bruno Alberti and handed over to Toni Sailer, the famously triple Olympic champion of 1956, who lit the flame. In the evening, the 2006 Torino torch relay came to town and hometown-boy Kristian Ghedina had the honour of carrying the torch for the final leg and lighting the flame at the Ice Stadium together with Aldo Caroli who had lit the Olympic flame in the 1956 Games. Numerous Olympic Champions from 1956 until 2002 attended the 50th anniversary gala of the Cortina Games, including Thomas Stangassinger (AUT), Deborah Compagnoni (ITA), Dianne Roffe (USA), Marina Kiehl (GER), Gustav Thoeni (ITA), Piero Gros (ITA), Heini Hemmi (SUI), and Olga Pall-Scartezini (AUT), just to mention a few.
In the men's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup, the Austrians also dominated the 3455-meter long Kandahar downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER). Nearing top form right before the Olympics, Hermann Maier triumphed before two of his team mates almost exactly nine years after he took his first-ever World Cup victory on the same course. In Sunday's super-G, Maier ranked 4th in his 200th World Cup race. In the same race, 28-year-old Scott MaCartney (USA) took his career-first World Cup podium place.
At Madonna di Campiglio (ITA), the venue for the 2007 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships, Freestyle Skiing mogulists had plenty of snow to contend with. In powdery conditions, Jennifer Heil (CAN) delivered her sixth podium performance in seven World Cup starts while Dale Begg-Smith of Australia, a former member of the Canadian ski team program, won for the fourth time this season.
At the "Jump & Fun Arena" in Winterberg (GER), 10,000 fans enjoyed pure big air Snowboarding action during the only Nokia Snowboard World Cup event in Germany. The 16-year-old Christophe Reynders of Belgium delivered the first-ever Snowboarding World Cup podium place for his home country whilst Matevz Petek (SLO) repeated his victory from last year's World Cup debut competition at Winterberg.
|Vivaldi Park, Korea|
The 10th FIS Snowboard Junior World Championships 2006 will take place at Vivaldi Park in Gangwon Province, Korea, from 2nd - 6th February, 2006. This is the first time the FIS Snowboard Junior World Championships are taking place outside of Europe and will also be the first FIS World Championships ever held in Korea. In 2009, the FIS Snowboard World Championships will also be held in Gangwon Province.
Vivaldi Park, considered to be Korea's #1 resort located only one hour south of Seoul, will host the world's best young snowboarders competing in snowboardcross, half pipe, big air and parallel giant slalom. Young athletes who were born between 1986 - 1991 for snowboardcross, big air and parallel giant slalom, and additionally in 1992 or 1993 for half pipe only, are entitled to participate. Altogether, some 400 athletes from 26 nations will be taking part. Prior to this year's competitions, the FIS Snowboard Junior World Championships medal ranking are led by Austria with 32 medals, followed by France with 25 and USA with 18.
|Michael Walchhofer in Kitzbhel (AUT)|
Before the FIS World Cups pause for the duration of the XX Olympic Winter Games in Turin, it is time for some interesting statistics:
Until the end of January 2006, the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup has staged 25 ladies' races and 29 men's races on two continents. In the total of 54 races, we have celebrated 12 individual ladies' winners and 16 individual men's winners. Three ladies and three men have won more than four races this season. In Ski Jumping, there have been seven winners in the 14 competitions and in Cross-Country, nine winners on the men's side and eight winners on the ladies' side in 15 individual events.
At the same time, more than 303,000 fans cheered their stars on-site at the men's World Cup Alpine while the ladies' competitions were followed by almost 100,000 spectators. In the e-on Ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping, some 190,000 spectators attended the events at 10 venues on two continents. In Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country, almost 180,000 people attended the 19 competitions in eight countries until the end of January 2006.
In terms of prize money, Michael Walchhofer (AUT) netted the greatest single weekend earnings by winning _65,600 (or CHF 102,000) during the World Cup weekend in Kitzbhel (AUT). In Ski Jumping, the most prize money so far this season has been won by the World Cup leader Jakub Janda (CZE) with CHF 167,000, followed by Janne Ahonen (FIN) with CHF 146,000. Hannu Manninen (FIN), who already confirmed his overall World Cup victory in the Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined, has brought home CHF 154,100. In Cross-Country, the overall World Cup leaders Marit Bjoergen (NOR) and Tobias Angerer (GER) also lead the prize money ranking with CHF 86,000 and CHF 92,000 respectively.
|Dr. Christian Poley|
FIS wishes to extend best wishes to Dr. Christian Poley who turns 75 today, February 1st, 2006. Dr. Poley has served as President of the Kitzbhel Ski Club since 1991 and as Chairman of the FIS Alpine Sub-committee for Rules and Control since 1994. A retired public notary, Dr. Poley is the recipient of several awards for his life-long service for the benefit of the sport of skiing as well as a 1997 recipient of the "Golden Award for Service to the Republic of Austria" ("Goldenes Ehrenzeichen fr Verdienste um die Republik sterreich").
With Joe Fitzgerald and Chris Robinson
Joe Fitzgerald, FIS Freestyle Skiing Coordinator, and Chris Robinson (CAN), Chairman of the FIS Committee for Freestyle Skiing took some time to provide FIS Newsflash with their insights into the season just ten days before the start of the Winter Olympic Games in Torino.
FIS Newsflash: Looking back, how has this Olympic Season turned out so far?
Joe Fitzgerald: Our season opened in Mt. Buller (AUS) in early September so it has been a long season for us already. This year, for the first time in at least my last seven years, we have had wonderful snow and weather conditions already in November as well as in December when the World Cup continued in Tignes (FRA), Oberstdorf (GER), and also in Changchun (CHN). It was especially great to have Germany back on the calendar although we had almost too much snow during our competitions there. In the New Year, we had a simultaneous start of the circuit for Moguls and Aerials in North America and for Ski Cross and Half Pipe in France. The New Year's start of the Moguls & Aerials in North America is a classic for us and it turned to be a great success again although the organizer had to relocate the event in Canada due to a labor dispute and had some wind issues in Deer Valley & Lake Placid (USA) for aerials.
All in all, we are pleased that we have not lost a single competition all year due to the weather; the hard work of the organizers and teams has really paid off every time! Given that it is an Olympic year, each and every World Cup counts for the points and rankings required to qualify for Torino 2006. The significance of the Olympics can also been seen in the increased competitiveness of the athletes and the events - in each one, the podiums have been quite varied and no single nation is dominant.
Chris Robinson: It has been a very good season so far, marked by very high caliber of competition, especially in Moguls and Aerials, vying for the Olympic spots. I am also pleased to see such strong support for the Ski Cross World Cup and hope that it continues to grow in the future so that at some point it will become an Olympic discipline.
For Half Pipe, I am a bit surprised about the limited World Cup calendar - just two competitions this season - because there is such great activity at the recreational level especially among the youth. I hope we will have more interested National Ski Associations bidding to organize half pipe competitions next year.
FIS Newsflash: Looking forward, what do you see coming for Freestyle Skiing?
Joe Fitzgerald: First and foremost of course the Olympic Winter Games! I am really excited about the fact that our entire program in Sauze d'Oulx will be staged at night. We have many events take place at night this season and the atmosphere is always fantastic. So, we are looking forward to good competitions along with a good show and great fun! Getting some rest maybe an issue for me though.
Chris Robinson: I am very excited about the Torino Games for Freestyle Skiing. With the modernization of our rules, specifically the approval of off-axis and inverted jumps, we have really increased the excitement level for TV and on-site spectators as well as from an athletic perspective.
In the future, our focus will be on finding a sponsor to support the Freestyle Skiing World Cup. Given the very healthy state of our sport, we are confident we will be able to find an organization that recognizes and appreciates the long-term opportunity to partner with us.
With Alex Hller and Bill Slattery
Alex Hller, FIS Race Director Snowboarding, and Bill Slattery (USA), Chairman of the FIS Committee for Snowboarding, also provided FIS Newsflash with their commentary on the season and on the future of the sport.
FIS Newsflash: Looking back, how has this Olympic Season been˙so far?
Alex Hller: Overall we've had a great season until now. We've been very lucky with weather, had good snow and in fact, have not had to reschedule races due to weather problems so far. Even at our traditional races at Whistler (CAN) in early December, the venue for last year's FIS Snowboard World Championships that has been in our calendar for ten years, we had atypically good snow and weather for the local conditions. Because of this being an Olympic season, the World Cup has carried more weight than during a regular season. As a result, we have had broad participation, including from new nations such as the Philippines, Ireland, Brazil and China, the latter two also having athletes qualify for the Olympics for the first time.
The Big Air competitions in venues such as Klagenfurt, Rotterdam and Winterberg also were great successes, with lots of spectators and increasingly good atmosphere. Given the great snow and other external conditions, we have also enjoyed a season with very few injuries. Altogether, I am very content with this season so far and in particular very happy about the great work all the organizers have put forth to make the competitions happen at such a high level.
Bill Slattery: From my perspective, the season is going well, just as planned with no downsides. The feedback from trainers, teams and technical officials has all been positive. The number of participating nations seems to also be on the rise. At the competitions I attended I was impressed by the professional quality of organization. In sum, I am quite satisfied and looking forward to a great future for Snowboarding.
FIS Newsflash: In terms of the future, what is in store for Snowboarding?
Alex Hller: Of course, now that snowboardcross is also an Olympic event we will, for the first time, have three events in Turin. The Olympics have a special appeal and we are looking forward to broad participation from all the qualified athletes, both young and experienced alike. The prerequisites are all there for great, accident-free competitions, even for snowboardcross which compared to parallel giant slalom and half pipe places certain additional requirements for fair and equal competitions.
In terms of the future, I want to highlight the increasing acceptance within the FIS National Ski Associations of the slopestyle event. It is especially well-liked within younger generations and because it requires no lifts and only very simple venue infrastructure - so much so that it can easily take place in cities - I am a great believer in it for the future.
Bill Slattery: I expect the Turin Olympics to be a great success for snowboarding in terms of TV coverage and number of spectators. There are some great competitions waiting for us in Bardonecchia.
On the whole, I think that we have to remain vigilant about new events and gravitate to where the athletes go. The general interest in slopestyle is clearly increasing and we have to take that seriously; sitting back is not an option but rather we have to consider all facets. That goes also for security aspects where I think the obligation to wear a helmet together with good snow conditions has played a role in minimizing injuries this season.