|News from the World of Skiing|
Three Questions to Walter Hofer and Uli Wehling ... more
|News from the World of Skiing|
|Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR)|
Photo: Alois Furtner/Nordic Focus
|Team Germany, men|
Photo: Alois Furtner/Nordic Focus
Biathlon specialist Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR), a five-time Olympic gold medalist, produced an astonishing performance at the Viessmann FIS World Cup Cross-Country in Gaellivare (SWE) by winning the 15km individual start free technique race. This was the first FIS World Cup victory for Bjoerndalen, who after a slow start (54th at first intermediate time!) eventually finished 23.3 seconds ahead of his compatriot Tore Ruud Hofstad. With Lars Berger (NOR) in the fifth place, yet another biathlon specialist finished in the top six.
On the ladies' side, Katerina Neumannova (CZE) took her 17th World Cup victory while Sweden's Charlotta Kalla, a three-time-medalist at last year's Junior World Championships, finished strong in the 7th place.
In Sunday's relays, Team Norway took over in the ladies' event. In her relay leg, the 42-year-old veteran, Hilde G. Pedersen, showed that she is far from being ready to retire, leaving the field no chance. On Saturday, Pedersen had stunned the audience by ranking sixth in the individual free technique race. On the men's side, Germany displayed its formidable strength taking a resounding victory in the men's 4x10km relay on the new courses in Gaellivare. In total, there were five Germans in the top eleven in Saturday's individual race and on Sunday, both of their relay teams made it into top six.
|Lake Louise (CAN)|
The kick-off for the ladies' 2006-07 speed events will also be at Lake Louise, the host of the 1988 Olympic Games located some 200km from Calgary. The ladies program there will include two downhills and a super-g from December 1st to 3rd.
The second men's World Cup venue in North America is again Beaver Creek. In addition to the season's first much-acclaimed super combined, the Colorado resort that staged the FIS 1999 Alpine World Ski Championships will also play host to a downhill, giant slalom and slalom. Beaver Creek's `Birds of Prey' course is generally deemed as one of the most difficult runs on the World Cup circuit. The first training at Beaver Creek is scheduled for Tuesday, 28th November with the races taking place from 30th November - 3rd December.
After the weekend in Swedish Lapland, the Cross-Country family will now be moving west to the north of Finland. The Nordic Opening, a joint World Cup weekend for all FIS Nordic disciplines will take place for the fifth time in Kuusamo (FIN) on 24th-26th of November. A true season opener for Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined, this long weekend will be the first and only time before the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Sapporo (JPN) that all three Nordic disciplines are staged at the same venue and in fact, at the very same stadium. 320 athletes from 27 nations will compete in the total of eight World Cup events at Ruka, a popular winter sport resort named after the local mountain (492m) located 25 km north of Kuusamo. The competitions will begin with a large hill Ski Jumping competition on Friday evening, followed by an Individual Gundersen Nordic Combined race, a classical style sprint race for Cross-Country and another night Ski Jumping event all on Saturday. On Sunday, there are a Nordic Combined sprint and individual start distance Cross-Country races in the classical technique on the schedule.
"It is a honor for us to organize the Nordic Opening for the fifth time in a row. The current snow conditions are not optimal due to warm weather, but that is not a concern since we had produced sufficient artificial snow for the last four weeks when we had cold weather. The athletes and spectators can be sure that we will deliver a great event for them," says Seppo Linjakumpu, General Secretary of the Nordic Opening Organizing Committee.
The occasion of the 5th Nordic Opening is clearly a reason to celebrate. The Organizing Committee has confirmed several live music performances and DJ's to ensure great atmosphere throughout the weekend.
The special skiing website for Right To Play, an athlete-driven, international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play as a tool for development of children and the youth, is now live. The site, located at www.righttoplay-ski.com, will be the main source of information about the activities of Right To Play in skiing. It is also the place where supporters can purchase the VIP-packages or starting places donated by several organizers of leading ski events. Participating organizers include FIS Alpine World Cups in St. Moritz, Adelboden, Wengen and Lenzerheide (all SUI), 2007 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Are (SWE), FIS Ski Jumping World Cups at Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER) and Holmenkollen (NOR) and two Worldloppet races, Tartu Marathon (EST) and Birkebeinerrennet (NOR).
In the future, the site hopes to offer something of interest for most fans of skiing, including an opportunity to keep up with Right To Play's Athlete Ambassadors in the various skiing disciplines. For more, please click here.
|View of Niesen from Oberhofen (SUI)|
Beautiful sunny weather welcomed the FIS Council to its traditional Autumn Meeting held in the FIS Office in Oberhofen (SUI) last week. All members, including the three new members Jaakko Holkeri (FIN), Eduardo Roldan (SPA) and Leonid Tyagachev (RUS) who were elected at the FIS Congress in Vilamoura, were present on Friday 17th November when the Council made several important decisions. For a summary of the Council's decisions, please click here; the Short Summary of the most important Council Decisions has been sent to all National Ski Associations today.
|Photo: Arnd Hammersbach/Nordic Focus|
FIS President Gian Franco Kasper participated in the meetings of the Executive Committee and Foundation Board of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on 19th -20th November in Montreal (CAN). The meetings focused on reviewing the working draft revision of the World Anti-Doping Code - the product of the first of three consultation phases with stakeholders. The final version of the revised code should be approved at the Third World Conference on Doping in Sport to be held in Madrid in November 2007. The Montreal session also elected Jean-Fran‡ois Lamour, French Minister of Youth, Sport and Voluntary Work, to serve as the Agency's next vice president and approved the agency's 2007 budget, among other decisions.
The agency's Executive Committee reiterated that WADA's primary mission is to act as the monitoring watchdog for the implementation of and compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code, rather than being a service organization for international sports federations. It also stressed the critical role of governments in the global fight against doping and the need to coordinate sport and government collaboration to enable sport to deal with cheating on a timely basis. To date, 27 governments have ratified the International Convention against Doping in Sport. Once 30 ratifications are received, the Convention will formally enter into force.
As last year, Lillehammer has stepped in for Trondhjem as the venue for the FIS World Cup Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined events scheduled for December 2nd and 3rd. The change has been caused by warm weather in Trondhjem which makes it impossible to prepare the jumping hill. The conditions˙in˙Lillehammer are good.
The Federative Council of the Finnish Ski Association has re-elected FIS Council Member Jaakko Holkeri as President of the Association for the next two-year period. Holkeri was first elected President in 2005. "The goal for all our disciplines is to be at the very top. Although we did not quite meet our objectives in all respects, in international comparison we can be satisfied with the past season. For 2007, our goal is to win 10 medals, two per discipline, at the upcoming World Ski Championships," Holkeri commented and added: "Our main focus is on sport although we have to continue to keep a vigilant eye on our finances."
Three Questions to Walter Hofer and Uli Wehling
At the outset of the season kick-off at the Nordic Opening at Ruka/Kuusamo (FIN) this weekend, Walter Hofer and Uli Wehling, FIS Race Directors for Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined, respectively, shared some of their thoughts before the winter that culminates in the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Sapporo(JPN).
FIS Newsflash: What is your general feeling about the 2006-2007 season?
Walter Hofer: This Friday's competition at the Nordic Opening at Ruka/Kuusamo (FIN) will kick-off the 28th e.on Ruhrgas FIS World Cup season in Ski Jumping. In total we will have 29 World Cup competitions including two team events and six ski flying events. No less than 13 competitions will be held at night. So it will be a long season especially because our finals in Planica (SLO) will take place a week later than typically, on 24-25th March.
After Torino 2006, this season represents the beginning of a new Olympiad, and that always denotes change. There has been quite some movement among the trainers and we already see very positive signals coming from teams from the Czech Republic, Russia, Kazakhstan, Poland and Slovenia, just to mention a few. Our current regulatory framework provides fair and equal chances to everyone and I am looking forward to several new teams joining the fight for podium places.
Uli Wehling: This season will be our 24th Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined season and we have a very full schedule with a total of 21 competitions ahead of us. The program is quite balanced in that we will have eight traditional Individual Gundersen races, seven Sprint competitions and three each of Mass Start and Team Events. Now we just hope that the weather will be on our side! One of the interesting questions for this season will obviously be whether we will have the first-ever four-time World Cup winner? So far, Kenji Ogiwara (JPN; 1993-95) and Hannu Manninen (FIN; 2004-2006) have both won the World Cup three times.
As we had no top level retirements after the Olympic Winter Games last year (with the exception of Todd Lodwick, USA), we expect all the top names to be strong again this season. Based on their showing at the Summer Grand Prix, that would seem to be the case. Of course there might be some new young names emerging, like last year, and I personally hope that Team Japan will perform strongly in advance of their home World Championships in February. There are also a few new teams that could well make the transition from the World Cup `B' to `A'.
FIS Newsflash: What is particular about this season?
Walter Hofer: For us the season highlights include the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Sapporo (JPN) where we will award six individual bronze, silver and gold medals (large and normal hills) and three team medals (large hill). Other highlights are the 55th edition of the Jack Wolfskin Four-Hills-Tournament in Germany and Austria at the turn of the year, and the Nordic Tournament in Finland and Norway in mid-March. In addition, I am quite glad to see Vikersund (NOR) back on the schedule after a six-year break. At the request of the trainers and athletes, we would like to permanently include three ski flying weekends on our calendar in the future.
Uli Wehling: Of course, one of the specialties of the season will be the Sprint competition at the Sapporo Dome during the World Ski Championships. We are very much looking forward to taking full advantage of this imposing arena to benefit our sport!
Another season highlight will surely be the 14th Warsteiner German Grand Prix over the New Year's: in Schonach we have a wonderful host venue that has participated in each edition, while Oberhof traditionally boasts the largest number of spectators during the entire season and in Ruhpolding we will again stage a team sprint that, too, will count as part of the overall tournament rankings.
FIS Newsflash: Are there any changes we should note?
Walter Hofer: There were no important rule changes for this season. The only remarkable change is that the World Cup prize money for the top ten athletes each weekend (i.e. two competitions) increased from CHF 100'000 to 140'000 (i.e. CHF 70'000 per competition), representing a total increase of 40 %!
During the FIS Grand Prix Ski Jumping 2006, we introduced a new award known as˙the˙`Manner Man of the Day.' Following the successful trial in the summer, we will continue to award this cash prize to the best-ranked athlete who was not among the top 15 in the World Cup rankings before the day's competition. In addition to the prize money, the `Manner Man of the Day' will receive a large Manner hazelnut waffle with a weight of 1.3 kg. And at our season finals in Planica (SLO), we will present an additional prize money award to the `Manner Man of the Year' - the season's best-ranked `Manner Man of the Day.'
Uli Wehling: Our discipline is relatively stable at this time. We only have two notable changes for this season: Firstly, in the Individual Gundersen competitions, only the top 35 athletes will be allowed to jump in the second round and therefore also compete in the skiing part. For us this represents an optimization of the total duration of the competition. Secondly, we will introduce the so-called `Nordic Combined Compact Sprint.' This means that in Lahti (FIN) and Oslo (NOR), we will begin the skiing part a maximum of 25 min after the jumping finished.
From an organizational perspective, we are pleased to welcome Shuhei Naruta (JPN) to our team through an assisted education program in collaboration with the Ski Association of Japan - he will be on-site at all World Cups and will be taking on the role of the equipment controller.