News from the World of Skiing 

  The season is truly on although weather plays havoc ... more

  FIS European and NorAm Cup seasons start ... more

  Warm weather forces calendar changes ... more


 Inside FIS 

  Ski Cross accepted into the Olympics ... more

  WADA-supported study shows that individual Hb values do not vary significantly ... more

  FIS Council suspends Grenada International Sports Foundation ... more


 Member News 

  The pyramid of Estonian skiing: Estonian Ski Association turns 85 ... more

  Less than 50 days to go for Arosa ... more

  Are 2007 to work with FIS Partners Riedel Communications & Tele Comm Sportservice ... more


 In Depth 

  Industry Perspective: Interview with Jean-Pierre Morand, Secretary General of SRS ... more


 News from the World of Skiing 

The season is truly on although weather plays havoc
Eldar Roenning (NOR)
Photo: NordicFocus
Marco Buechel (LIE)

The official season opening for the FIS Nordic disciplines took place last weekend in Kuusamo (FIN) where the 5th edition of the Nordic Opening was marred by inclement weather. For Cross-Country Skiing, however, the conditions on the challenging courses around the Ruka fell were excellent. On Saturday, Petra Majdic (SLO) took her second World Cup victory on one of the most difficult sprint courses seen in the circuit. She prevailed clearly before the two Finns and three Norwegians in the A-Final. In the men's sprint, only 21-year old Emil Joensson of Sweden could challenge the Norwegian domination as they took the places 1st -5th. On Sunday, Virpi Kuitunen (FIN) gave the competition no chance by winning the individual start distance race by 44 seconds. On the men's side, Eldar Roenning of Norway, better known as an excellent sprinter, won his first distance race and grew his lead in the overall World Cup ranking to 76 points.

In Ski Jumping, the season's first competition in the e-on Ruhrgas FIS World Cup Ski Jumping was a celebration of newcomers: the 22-year winner Arttu Lappi, a law student from Finland, was also the Manner Man of the Day and was joined on the podium by 21-year-old Anders Jacobsen (NOR) who made it there in 3rd place in his first-ever World Cup start. The conditions during Friday's competition were difficult due to wet snow and unpredictable winds, which also caused to the cancellation of the second competition on Saturday.

In Nordic Combined, Jason Lamy-Chappuis (FRA) continued his winning streak that started in the last competition of the past season by taking the second World Cup victory in his career in the season's first Individual Gundersen race. Lamy-Chappuis withstood the formidable challenge posed by Hannu Manninen (FIN) who is hunting for his fourth consecutive overall Warsteiner FIS World Cup Nordic Combined crown. Saturday's sprint race was cancelled due to dangerous winds.

In AUDI FIS Alpine World Cup, the North American tour kicked off in Aspen (USA) for the ladies and in Lake Louise (CAN) for the men. In the ladies' slalom, Marlies Schild took her second win of the season while Nicole Hosp made it an Austrian one-two. Schild has been the fastest in every single slalom run so far this season. In giant slalom, Kathrin Zettel won her long overdue first World Cup title as Tanja Poutiainen (FIN) was the only one that could break the Austrian front in the ranks 1st -4th. At Lake Louise it was a weekend of "oldests" and "firsts", when Marco Buechel (LIE) became the oldest ever winner in the FIS Alpine World Cup on Saturday as he won the downhill race at the age of 35 years and 3 weeks. On Sunday Patrik Jaerbyn of Sweden, at 37 years & 7 months, became the oldest man to claim a World Cup podium as he finished third in super-G. In the men's super-G, John Kucera became the first Canadian to win at Lake Louise, this time in temperatures that neared -30 degrees Celsius at the bottom of the hill. Kucera's win capped a spectacular weekend for Team Canada that saw Manuel Osborne-Paradis place second in Saturday's downhill.

In Saas-Fee (SUI), the US snowboard team had a great start into the half-pipe season of the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup 2006/07 as Scott Lago and Gretchen Bleiler provided for a double victory in the first contest of the season. It was the first World Cup participation for 19-year-old Lago while Bleiler, Turin silver medallist, took her fourth victory. The second half-pipe competition in Saas-Fee had to be cancelled due to strong winds with speeds of up to 90 kilometres per hour.

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FIS European and NorAm Cup seasons start
Salla (FIN)
Keystone (USA)

The FIS European Cup for Alpine Skiing launched in Salla, north-eastern Finland last weekend. Two slaloms for the men were held in decent conditions despite warm weather. The men's circuit then moved to Levi, in north-western Lapland, where two giant slaloms will be held. The conditions at Levi are excellent, with a few minus grades Celsius and sunshine.

The first ladies' European Cup races had to be moved from Kvitfjell to Hemsedal (both NOR) where the two super-g races will be staged on 6th-7th December. The dates for the ladies's two giant slalom events in Aal (NOR) were consequently changed to 3rd - 4th December.

The FIS NorAm Cup for the men also started with the Chevrolet Super Series races in Keystone, Colorado (USA) last week. More than 14 countries were represented and some of the world's best men's slalom and giant slalom racers competed as teams used the races as a warm-up for the giant slalom and slalom races at Beaver Creek from 30th November.

The ladies' NorAm Cup kicked off at Winter Park, Colorado (USA), with two slalom and two giant slalom races being staged as of yesterday. Both ladies and men's NorAm circuits will then move to Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada, for the season's first speed events.

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Warm weather forces calendar changes

Due to the unseasonably warm weather in most parts of Europe, there have been a few adjustments to the FIS Calendar. Most recently, the AUDI FIS Alpine World Cup downhill and super combined races for men in Val d'Isre (FRA) and for ladies in St. Moritz (SUI) scheduled for 9th - 10th December had to be cancelled due to lack of snow.

For the most recent information on schedule changes, please visit the FIS website at www.fis-ski.com. The changes to the World Cup and Continental Cup schedules can always be found under News/Information => Official Communications. For changes in the schedule for FIS races, please visit the FIS Calendar.

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 Inside FIS 

Ski Cross accepted into the Olympics
Ski cross, an Olympic event

Meeting in Kuwait City, the Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) yesterday reviewed the recommendations of the IOC Program Commission regarding the Olympic program. It decided to maintain the events included for the first time in Turin, including team sprint in Cross-Country Skiing and snowboardcross. In addition, the IOC EB decided to extend the program of the Olympic Winter Games to include the ladies' and men's ski cross as had been proposed by FIS following the decision the 45th International Ski Congress in Vilamoura (POR) in May.

"We are very pleased about the decision of the IOC to include ski cross already in 2010," commented FIS President Gian Franco Kasper. "The growth of ski cross has been phenomenal especially among the youngsters. Since its introduction in the 2002/03 season, 31 nations have participated in the ladies' and men's ski cross World Cup competitions and the first FIS World Championships in ski cross at Ruka (FIN) in 2005 were a great success. We are already looking forward to the next FIS World Championships in ski cross to be held in Madonna di Campiglio (ITA) in January 2007 and Inawashiro (JPN) in 2009."

The 45th International Ski Congress also decided to request the consideration of the ladies' Ski Jumping, and the nations' team event in Alpine Skiing for inclusion on the program of the Olympic Winter Games in 2010. But the IOC EB decided not to include the nations' team event arguing that "it would only allow the same athletes already participating in an individual event to take part in another event and win more medals." In the case of ladies' Ski Jumping, the IOC's decision was made on the grounds that its "development is still in the early stage thus lacking the international spread of participation and technical standard required for an event to be included in the program." However the EB noted that it would be closely following the development of the ladies' Ski Jumping with a view of its inclusion in future Olympic Games. FIS President Gian Franco Kasper added: "We are convinced that by the next IOC review, ladies' Ski Jumping and the nations' team event in Alpine Skiing will also meet the IOC's criteria for inclusion. Especially since the first FIS World Championships in ladies' Ski Jumping on the normal hill will be staged as soon as in Liberec (CZE) in 2009."

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WADA-supported study shows that individual Hb values do not vary significantly
Bengt Saltin
Photo: Scanpix

Taking advantage of the occasion of the Nordic Opening at Ruka (FIN), Professor Bengt Saltin, former FIS Anti-Doping Expert presented the initial findings of a WADA supported FIS study on the possible causes for variation in the haemoglobin (Hb) values in elite Cross-Country skiers. This study, carried out by Professor Saltin in cooperation with the German, Swedish and French National Ski Associations, shows that the Hb level is a robust and highly reproduceable variable on the individual level.

The study found only minor changes in Hb concentration in blood due to water intake, hard training or level of altitude and the individual variations were small. There was no difference between females and males or between athletes with naturally low or high Hb levels. As a result, large Hb fluctuations in some skiers cannot be explained by variables such as time of day, training at altitude or similar. Instead, the fact that only minor variations were measured on the individual level supports the use of blood profiling as a good method to deter skiers from using various forms of blood manipulation.

In the future, a possible development might entail the determination of individual Hb values around which a variation of +/- 10% would be allowed, as opposed to universal maximum allowable values that are presently used in a number of sports, including skiing.

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FIS Council suspends Grenada International Sports Foundation

At its Meeting on 17th November 2006, the FIS Council has decided to suspend the participation of athletes registered with the Grenada International Sports Foundation in FIS-calendar events until further notice whilst an investigation is undertaken into the activities and legality of the association.

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 Member News 

The pyramid of Estonian skiing: Estonian Ski Association turns 85
Gold for Estonia in Salt Lake City in 2002

Established during its first independent period in 1921, the Estonian Ski Association celebrated its 85th anniversary on November 28th. A reception for more than 500 guests hosted by the Association's President Toomas Savi will be held at the Vanemuise Concert Hall in Tartu tonight. The entire 2006/07 season will be marked by the anniversary. For example, the Estonian Post has issued a postcard and a stamp dedicated to it. In January, a book accounting the history of Estonian skiing will be published. The book will focus on the fifteen years since Estonia regained its independence.

The book will highlight the most memorable moments since the early 1990s, when the Estonian Ski Association started to build the Pyramid called Estonian skiing: Following the first medals won by Andrus Veerpalu and Kristina Smigun at the 1999 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Ramsau (AUT), Eesti Suusaliit greeted its first FIS World Champion, Veerpalu, in Lahti (FIN) in 2001. The crown jewel came as Veerpalu won the first Olympic gold for Estonia as an independent state in 2002 in Salt Lake City while Jaak Mae took the bronze. Last season, Kristina Smigun, a five-time FIS World Championship medallist, became the queen of Turin. Altogether, the three Olympic gold medals won by her and Andrus Veerpalu made Estonia the best Cross-Country nation there.

Despite such great victories, the Estonian Ski Association has developed a solid structure focused on training new generations and runs an extensive series of youth skiing competitions and skiing cups. In addition, the country is world-famous for the excellent organization of such major events as the Tartu Marathon that is part of the FIS Marathon Cup, FIS World Cup races at Otep and the summertime Saku Suverull. Skiing is a national sport for the Estonians, as demonstrated by the masses of people that participate in popular ski marathons every winter.

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Less than 50 days to go for Arosa

There are now less than 50 days to go - 45 days to be exact - until the 7th FIS Snowboard World Championships will start in Arosa (SUI). From January 13th - 20th, 2007, 27 medals will be awarded in all five FIS World Cup disciplines: Parallel slalom, parallel giant slalom, half-pipe, snowboardcross and big air. So far, 40 nations have registered to participate. However, the national quotas are limited: only 32 riders per nation are allowed to start (with a maximum of 18 of either gender). For each gender and discipline there is a maximum of four snowboarders. In addition, every reigning World Champion gets a personal spot in the respective event.
The preparations are at full speed. "At the moment, we are building the main infrastructure such as the grand stands, tents and the power supply", said Hello Haas, General Secretary of the Organizing Committee. "In addition, we are producing snow for all the slopes to guarantee the sporting quality and pushing the event in Switzerland with TV spots and advertising."

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Are 2007 to work with FIS Partners Riedel Communications & Tele Comm Sportservice

The 2007 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Are will be using TETRA - digital trunked radio technology - as basis for its general radio services. This solution was made possible by FIS's partnership with Riedel Communications and Tele Comm Sportservice. As a newly formed working group, they will install and operate the event's radio network, control center, sub control centers and all connections to outside locations.

The TETRA technology includes several advantages over conventional analogue radio, such as excellent audio quality, maximum security, flexible net and connection management as well as optimal frequency usage. In Are, only the judges' radio channel will remain analogue.

Tele Comm Sportservice has provided radio services for the FIS World Cup, and FIS World Ski Championships as well as Olympic Winter Games for years. Riedel provided the entire venue intercom solution for Torino 2006. For more information, please visit http://www.riedel.net/ and http://www.telecommsport.ch/.

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 In Depth 

Industry Perspective: Interview with Jean-Pierre Morand, Secretary General of SRS
Jean-Pierre Morand

Going into the 2006/07 season, FIS Newsflash had a chance to query Jean-Pierre Morand, Secretary General of the ski industry association SRS (Ski Racing Suppliers), about the outlook into the season from their perspective.

FIS Newsflash: What is the general mood within the industry at the outset of the season?

JPM: Following the positive showing of the ski sports - especially the excellent TV coverage - at the Olympic Winter Games in Turin, the overall mood is optimistic. That is why it's a real pity that Slden (AUT), and now St. Moritz (SUI)/Val d'Isre (FRA), had to be cancelled; a true reminder to us that we are dealing with an outdoor sport. Our concern will be growing greater if the weather stays mild and there is no snow. At the same time, the new race held in Levi (FIN) in great conditions in mid-November was fantastic. The timing is superb for the overall attitude about winter sports, and we hope that it will become a classic part of the FIS World Cup calendar.

FIS Newsflash: What does the long-term forecast look like for the skiing industry?

JPM: In the longer term perspective, we are most concerned about keeping the interest of the youngsters, especially in Alpine Skiing. In Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard, the new events, such as ski cross, have served to create a younger image. Within Nordic Skiing, the outlook is relatively positive as Cross-Country Skiing lies right in trend as a so-called `health sport' and its popularity in the emerging markets in the East has given it a real boost. In the future, we see the greatest opportunities for all ski sports to be in the Eastern Europe /Asia since the Central European and North American markets are relatively mature. There, the challenge will be to maintain skiing as a mainstream sport. There are so many other leisure opportunities these days. We would rather see the kids on the slopes than playing skiing games on the computer.

From our perspective, the most critical thing is to make sure that the top level skiing - the main product - remains attractive to the general public. We as an industry serve everyone, from the grassroots to the top athletes. We welcome the interest of other industries to invest in skiing as event or series sponsors, and especially salute the long-time commitment of certain companies to support ski sport. At the same time, we would like to see some new names to enter the row as well.

FIS Newsflash: Is there something FIS could be doing more of to support the industry?

JPM: At this time there is a very good relationship between us and FIS, and we hope to continue along the same lines since we as industry also like to get recognition for our engagement. We are highly supportive of the efforts of FIS to move in the direction of a more concentrated professional product. We are convinced that, in the end, ski sport will only survive and be sustainable as a globally successful phenomenon. We do appreciate the difficulties of establishing the product at the intersection of international and national interests. However, we believe that everyone's long term interests will be best served by modernization even if this might involve national compromises at times.

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