Recent FIS News
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Developing Skiing in Latvia
The highest „mountain” of Latvia lies 313 meters above sea level and the countryside is generally flat. The challenge is clearly, how to develop skiing in Latvia? In this edition, FIS Newsflash continues its series of presenting activities of the various members of the global ski family. Dinars Dorss, Alpine Executive and Head Coach of the Alpine National team provides insight into the work done in Latvia to grow the sport there.
FIS Newsflash: What is the history and philosophy behind your Association?
Dinars Dorss: “Founded in 1991, the Latvian Ski Association became member of FIS in 1992 and saw its first athletes competing in the 1992 Albertville Olympic Winter Games with Cross-Country and Freestyle skiers. But times were difficult for the Latvian Ski Association (LSA) as there were no national teams or coaches. From 2005 onwards, the LSA changed its board, restructured the organization and affiliated ski clubs and federations as members.
Our philosophy is to organize races that are attractive to kids and adult racers, not forgetting about their families. In the past years, our goal to make ski sports recognizable and produce a good image in our country has seen great progress.”
FIS Newsflash: Which challenges did you encounter?
Dinars Dorss: “The country with 2 million inhabitants has no real mountains and a short winter. Ski sports have never been a priority in people’s minds, therefore finding the necessary budget and right people to work with have been real challenges.”
FIS Newsflash: Which are your strongest disciplines and how do you promote them?
Dinars Dorss: “Currently, Cross-Country Skiing remains our strongest discipline because of the availability of cross-country tracks. In terms of results, Alpine skiers are on a good way towards the first ever top 100 skier. With local youth races becoming more and more popular, we have gathered a national team of 14 athletes for the 2012/2013 Alpine ski season. We are also on a good track to qualify for the 2014 Sochi Games both in Alpine and Cross-Country skiing. Snowboarding and Freestyle skiing have as well reported more activity and enthusiastic athletes. In 2010, we hosted the first FIS snowboard cross race which was a challenge for a no-mountain country.
To promote the sports, we have established a system of competitions for all levels of skiers. Reaching from a “wolf cup” competition series for youngsters aged 4 to 9, to Latvian Youth Cups for 10 to 15 year olds from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. In addition, adult races focus on keeping skiers in the sport for as long as possible. A big step forward has also been collaboration with a Finnish Ski resort of Suomu to run our annual National Championships in good snow conditions. This ski resort has also become the official training site of our national team.”
FIS Newsflash: What does your engagement in “Bring Children to the Snow” look like?
Dinars Dorss: “The “wolf cup” series gathering up to 140 younger kids helps us encourage more and more families to bring children to ski sports. Last season, the World Snow Day saw a pretty good success and will continue in future. It helps us attract children who are not involved in any sports clubs yet. The event focuses on the whole family, providing kids as well as parents with fun activity on snow.
In future, we are planning a „Snowkidz” project which will be affiliated to our National Youth Olympic Games gathering around 1200 Latvian school kids who compete in seven winter sports with a strong focus on ski sports.”
FIS Newsflash: What are your future goals?
Dinars Dorss: “We are in a period of proving our status among other winter sports which are more popular in the country such as skeleton, luge, bobsleigh and ice hockey. Our main long-term goal is to show people in our country that it is possible to be among the best in the world if you are from Latvia. Overall, we want to show families that ski sports have many attractive sides, so they decide in favor of ski when choosing a sport for their children.”