|News from the World of Skiing|
Three Questions to Jrg Capol ... more
|News from the World of Skiing|
The chances for the opening of the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup - traditionally held on the Rettenbach glacier in Slden (AUT) - to be staged as scheduled on 28th-29th October look promising. Despite the continuing sunny and warm weather combined with limited precipitation, the competition courses appear to have sufficient snow thanks to heroic efforts by the organizers.
According to FIS Race Director Guenter Hujara, who inspected the snow situation on the glacier a few days ago, the final decision for holding season opening ladies' and men's giant slalom races will be taken on 22nd October, as required by the rules for the FIS Alpine World Cup. The Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup scheduled to be held in Slden (AUT) on 22nd-23rd October has already been confirmed but will take place on the upper section of the glacier, above the course where the Alpine race is planned one week later.
|Amelie Kober (GER)|
For the first time in tour history, the Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup opened with an indoor contest at SnowWorld in Landgraaf (NED) last Friday, 13th October. The parallel slalom, the first of 31 events to be held across 12 countries, was the fourth World Cup stop at SnowWorld since the inaugural indoor event in 2004.
In a first impression for the men's season, Austrian Siegfried Grabner won the Landgraaf event for the second time in two years. He repeated his triumph from last season beating Simon Schoch (SUI) in the remake of last year's final. In the battle for third, Marc Iselin (SUI) crossed the finish line ahead of Daniel Biveson (SWE). On the ladies' side, Olympic silver medalist Amelie Kober (GER) celebrated her first World Cup win by finishing ahead of Marion Kreiner and Heidi Neururer (both AUT). With three gates short of a normal parallel slalom, the Landgraaf course appeals to technical riders who can carry speed in through the flats.
The first parallel giant slalom in the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup will be held in Slden (AUT) as the ladies will chase down the slope on October 21st and the men one day later.
FIS was well-represented at this year's Forum Nordicum, the annual meeting of the Union of Nordic Ski Journalists that is part of the AIPS (`Association de la Presse Sportive'), which took place in Antholz/Anterselva (ITA) from Monday 16th October - Thursday 19th October. The host of 2007 Biathlon World Championships in early February, the Antholz valley welcomed more than 100 representatives of the media, ski industry and the sport's governing bodies at the Forum. Besides special presentations on the year's title events in Biathlon and FIS's Nordic disciplines of Cross-Country Skiing, Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined, the agenda included presentations on rights management in sports and on the 55th edition of the Four-Hills Tournament in Ski Jumping, among others.
On Thursday, the concluding day of the Forum, Secretary General Sarah Lewis provided an update on the latest FIS news, including the decisions of the 45th International Ski Congress and an update on FIS's continued fight against doping. FIS Race Directors Jrg Capol, Walter Hofer and Uli Wehling discussed the latest developments in their respective disciplines and FIS Marketing Director Christian Knauth and Mark Lichti from IFM elaborated on details of TV coverage for last season's Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country and discussed additional highlight events during the upcoming season from the media's perspective.
As part of the FIS Aid & Promotion program, the annual FIS Cross-Country Training Camp and Coaches' Education for 2006/2007 will take place in Liberec (CZE) from 7th - 21st January 2007. The aim is to bring the participating athletes on a level that enables them to participate in future World Ski Championships. A maximum of 2 athletes (under 28 years of age and with a valid FIS Code) and 1 coach per eligible National Ski Association may participate on a first come, first served-basis up to a maximum of 25-30 participants. The camp will include practical training sessions as well as theoretical lessons, workshops and tests for athletes and coaches alike.
The FIS will pay full board accommodation for the participants, costs for sport facilities,instructors, lecturers, and local transportation. The National Ski Association or their athletes and coaches must cover their own travel costs. Registrations are due at the FIS Office by 31st October 2006 at the latest.
In a unique collaboration between science and sport, Canadian Alpine Ski Team recently conducted sophisticated wind tunnel testing at General Motors' (GM) state-of-the-art wind tunnel and Aerodynamics Laboratory in Warren, Michigan (USA). This is the same facility where automotive engineers develop the aerodynamic capabilities of new GM cars and trucks.
A supporter of the Canadian team for over 35 years, the wind tunnel testing is a way for GM to develop the relationship with Alpine Canada beyond traditional means of sponsoring. The members of the national team used the wind tunnel to experiment with various race positions and test their new downhill suits, gloves, helmets and goggles against wind speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour. "This was my first experience with the wind tunnel and it was really interesting," said five-time FIS World Cup podium winner Genevive Simard. "Some races are won by just a few hundredths of a second so if I can work, with the help of GM, on something that takes me from fifth to first, I'm willing to put the work in."
"The technical expertise we leverage is difficult to find anywhere else. It helps us gain the needed edge to win podiums at the international level and ensure our athletes possesses leading-edge technologies," noted Ken Read, President of Alpine Canada, the governing body for alpine ski racing in Canada.
Three Questions to Jrg Capol
The Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country season will start on 28th-29th October in Dsseldorf (GER); at the same time as the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup will launch on the glacier in Slden (AUT).
FIS Newsflash caught up with Jrg Capol, FIS Race Director Cross-Country, at the outset of the new season. He shared his thoughts into the winter that includes not only the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Sapporo (JPN) but also the premiere edition of the FIS Tour de Ski, a new multi-stage event that is part of the Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country.
FIS Newsflash: What is your general feeling looking forward to the 2006-2007 season?
Jrg Capol: Overall, it promises to become a wonderful Cross-Country year for many reasons. Following the Olympic season, there have been fewer retirements than normally. Instead, there are relatively many athletes who have changed their brand of skis, which often serves to increase the athlete's motivation. I personally deem this as a positive sign from the side of the industry, as it is clearly investing in a sport where it sees potential. In general, we are observing a growing interest in Cross-Country Skiing. At many World Cup sites, such as Falun (SWE), Lahti (FIN), Nove Mesto (CZE), Gaellivare (SWE) and Cogne (ITA), to mention just a few, significant investments are being made in the facilities and tracks, often with government support. Rybinsk (RUS) and Changchun (CHN) are two venues I am glad to welcome on both distance and sprint World Cup schedules. Organizationally, the World Cup Organizer's Handbook is now an official enclosure to the World Cup Organizer's Agreement and will help us in many respects in the future.
FIS Newsflash: What is particular about this season?
Jrg Capol: Despite this being a year of World Championships and Sapporo represents the main season goal for many athletes, we can see an increased emphasis on the overall World Cup, and specifically the FIS Tour de Ski as part of that. There are a large number of athletes willing and able to put up a real fight for the overall crystal globe!
The debut of indoor sprint races at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Sapporo, the first FIS championships in Asia, will provide a great stage for bringing our sport in front of a large number of people. We can also look forward to great broadcasting and fascinating pictures. The EBU host broadcast team from the Norwegian NRK with their Japanese colleagues are doing a great job in planning the production and otherwise, too, I am convinced we will see wonderful championships on demanding tracks and with a special Japanese character!
The ultimate goal of the FIS Tour de Ski is to increase the interest in the sport of skiing. Several details, such as the timing at the turn of the year and the first-across-the-line-wins rules have been designed with that in mind. I find that the Tour has great potential and we are well on our way in establishing the new event among the media and the public-at-large. The top athletes, too, are excited and organizationally we are just refining the final details.
FIS Newsflash: Are there any changes we should note?
Jrg Capol: There are limited rule changes being introduced this season. The only real change is that the sprint races will now be raced with six athletes in all the final rounds. I think this will lead to more exciting semi-finals as the two best Lucky Losers - based on their semi-final racing time - will now make it to the final!
There will also be two trials during this season: At La Clusaz (FRA), we will test the so-called "Nations' Boxes" for feeding, as opposed to any official feeding stations. The focus will especially be on security aspects of the concept as we want no accidents. In Oslo (NOR) in March, we will trial changing skis during the race at a fixed "Nation's Box" in the stadium.
Our overall goal is to make the overall World Cup more exciting and any future rule changes will aim to have the best racers in the same races. In our Fall meetings in Zurich we discussed the options for a special combination weekend with sprint and distance races awarding additional World Cup points. This idea will in a sense be trialed at the FIS Tour de Ski and then re-evaluated in our sprint meetings in Portoroz (SLO) in May.