Mayer receives his Kitzbuehel gondola

On Jan. 20, Austrian Matthias Mayer won the super-G at the fabled Hahnenkamm in Kitzbuehel, Austria.

“It’s a childhood dream come true, and I feel so happy at the moment,” said the 2014 Olympic downhill champion on the day of his victory.

Since then, he has been waiting for another special event. Traditionally, the winner of a Hahnenkamm race receives a personalized gondola emblazoned with his name, national flag, and the date of his race wins. That’s exactly what he earned on June 21.

More than 150 fans, family members, and ski jumpers were present at the ceremony on Wednesday.

“Unbelievable, I was not aware that there is a second victory, so to speak,” Mayer said after the ceremony.

Jetzt hab ich auch offiziell eine Gondel in Kitzbühel !! 🎉 #headwhatsyourlimit #uniqa

A post shared by Matthias Mayer (@matthiasmayer_) on Jun 21, 2017 at 9:24am PDT

Among the crowd of fans were the Mayer Olympiamusi band and KSC-musig, who performed together.

Sigmund Reisch, Kitzbuehel mayor Klaus Winkler, Kitzbuehel Ski Club President Michael Huber, Claudia Buchner, Margret Mayer, Helmut Mayer, as well as last year’s Hahnenkamm downhill winner Peter Fill, Ernst Hinterseer, and Hias Leitner were invited to the photo session. On the mountain, Josef Burger then handed over the gondola to Matthias Mayer. The super-G winner was extremely patient, gave interviews, and a lot of pictures were taken.

Release courtesy of the Kitzbuehel Ski Club.

KMS builds a base for success in young student-athletes

Rolf Gidlow, a veteran alpine coach, has worked with athletes at every age level, including years of work with FIS racers. At this stage in his career, Gidlow has come to realize how critical strong coaching is at the U14 level, and is excited to make a lasting impact on the future of Killington Mountain School in his new role as the head U14 alpine coach. Gidlow carries with him over 46 years of professional ski coaching experience, having consistently coached some of the top academy athletes on the circuit. As a result, he both understands the highest level of competition but also the critical nature of skill acquisition at young ages.

Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Gidlow grew up ski racing and ultimately coaching at a small mountain there, where his father, a Swedish ski racer, ran a small ski team and brought Gidlow on board to help coach the young athletes. He continued working with his father and the team during his time at the University of Minnesota, where he was a music major, focusing on piano performance and music theory.

After college, Gidlow remained in Minnesota for 17 years where he was a performing musician in addition to continuing his tenure as a ski coach. Thirty years ago, he came east when his passion for skiing overtook his passion for music, and he wanted to work at higher level within the coaching industry.

“I am very excited to have Rolf join our staff,” shared Alpine Program Director Tom Sell. “He brings an incredible depth of knowledge and expertise to our U14 group. It is fantastic to have someone with his background working with our young athletes. In our conversations this spring, Rolf told me that he wants to help develop athletes with the ability to truly fulfill their potential, and that working with the U14 group is where he can have the most impact.”

Gidlow shared on his eagerness to work with the U14s.

“It’s an important age group, and we need to pay more attention to athletes at this level as part of our development system; the foundation is key,” he explained. “I observed this when working with older racers. If they don’t have it by the time they are 16, they won’t have it when they get older. There’s so much emphasis and importance placed on athletes at older ages, but almost all ski racers get into sport through participation at the club level so starting them off right is crucial.”

Gidlow will be moving to Londonderry this summer, and is eager to being working with KMS athletes and getting to know them and their families.

Release courtesy of Killington Mountain School

Injured French athletes return to snow

French athletes Thomas Fanara and Taina Barioz have both returned to snow as they continue to recover from injuries sustained during the 2016-17 season.

After finishing in fourth place in the Val d’Isere giant slalom last December, Fanara received news that he suffered a tear to his right ACL, which he sustained during his second run. At the time, many people asked if he would hang up his skis. The 36-year-old World Cup veteran repeatedly assured fans that he had plans to return and he is doing just that.

He returned to the same ski are where he was injured and got back on skis on the Pissaillas Glacier. Fanara is a giant slalom specialist with 100 World Cups starts to his name, 11 podium finishes and one World Cup victory.

Back in business !! 👍😁

A post shared by Thomas Fanara (@thomas_fanara) on Jun 21, 2017 at 3:17am PDT

His teammate, Barioz, also returned to snow this week with a few runs at Val d’Isere. The Frenchwoman suffered knee pain most of the early season, which started with summer training in Argentina and prevented her from competing in Soelden. Eventually, Barioz suffered an ACL tear at Semmering, Austria, when she crashed in challenging, foggy conditions. She underwent surgery at the start of the new year, and has been getting stronger ever since.

Barioz has started in 125 World Cups and earned two podium finishes, most recently a second-place finish at the St. Moritz World Cup giant slalom in 2016.

Merighetti, Reichelt talk about the FIS Athletes’ Commission

The latest class of the FIS Athletes’ Commission members were elected by the athletes at the 2017 FIS World Championships and the newly-elected commission recently held its first meeting. FIS sat down with the alpine representatives Daniela Merighetti of Italy and Hannes Reichelt of Austria to talk about their roles, which will extend through 2019.

What motivated you to join the commission in 2015 and to stand for reelection this year?
Daniela Merighetti
: I decided to join the commission in 2015 because I felt like an expert with the experience I have. I started racing on the World Cup in 2000 and joined the commission with the goal to improve a number of areas in the alpine World Cup. In these two years, I have learned a lot about the FIS organization, which was very interesting. I retired from competitive skiing last year. Now, I have more time and feel I can do a great job.

Hannes Reichelt: In 2015, I decided to run for the Athletes’ Commission with the same goal as Daniela, to improve a number of items in the alpine World Cup. I realized that two years are too short of a timeframe to do so. It takes up to four to six years to really make a difference, so I put my name forward for reelection this winter.

What are your main areas of focus in alpine skiing?
: We are working on a number of issues including safety, the balance of races between technical and speed events, increasing prize money and marketing opportunities for athletes. Additionally, we are providing important input when rules, regulations and formats are adjusted, most recently on the new ski radius in giant slalom and the new starting order in speed events.

DM: Besides these topics, we are working on improving communication between FIS and athletes and vice-versa with our main goal to make the athletes understand FIS decisions and clarify questions and misunderstandings.

What do you enjoy most about being a member of the Athletes’ Commission?
: Being a member of the commission makes me very proud. I am the athletes’ voice, which is a great commitment. The atmosphere is great within the commission, and I enjoy the team. The members are very smart, and I enjoy sharing opinions with athletes of different disciplines. There are many things to learn from each other.

Hannes, besides your work in the Athletes’ Commission, what are you doing this summer to be prepared for the Olympic season?
: After my back surgery last fall, I have had to catch up on my physical shape, and I am using this summer to work hard and train well in order to be in the same shape as I was before.

Daniela, you retired from competitive skiing last year. What are you doing now?
: I was in the custom military group as an athlete, and I stayed with them when I retired. Since January this year, I have been working for the customs at my place as Secretary for a General Attorney. This is very different from what I did in the past, but I really like it and I am learning a lot. I am in a different world, and this is very challenging.

This winter, I was also a commentator for some alpine World Cup races for Eurosport Italia and worked a little for Infront Sports & Media. I tried to be a journalist, editing a magazine for them. I had a lot of fun and this gives me the opportunity to stay in the white circus and exchange opinions with the athletes, which is very important for my role in the Athletes’ Commission.

What kind of message would you like to pass on to your fellow athletes as their representative within FIS?
: I keep telling the athletes, “I’m your voice, and you have the great opportunity to say what you want.” Okay, we’re not here to do anything brand new, but we’re here to improve and to bring the sport to a higher level. Together we can do a lot, which alone, we can’t.

HR: In addition to what Daniela says, I would like to encourage the alpine athletes to please answer our survey, which we send them every year. If we have a response rate of 70 to 80 percent, it will give us a strong voice in the Alpine Committee discussions and ultimately, it will make it easier to bring forward proposals.

Release courtesy of FIS

Smith returns home to Mount Washington Valley

The Mount Washington Valley Ski Team (MWV) is happy to announce that U.S. Ski Team alumnus Leanne Smith will be taking over duties as head FIS and U19 coach for the MWV program. Having just retired from a 10-year career with the national team that included two Winter Olympic Games and two World Cup podium appearances, Smith is returning back to her home in North Conway, N.H., to work with the club she skied with during her career as a junior racer.

Smith possesses unparalleled knowledge of what it takes to reach your goals as an athlete by working through the system in place at MWV. Her primary role with MWV will be head FIS and U19 coach, but given the unique nature of the club, she will also be working with U16 athletes and assisting in additional operations the club performs such as summer and fall camps and NHARA speed week programming. Smith’s passion for the sport of skiing is contagious and she is eager to impart her knowledge onto the young athletes at MWV.

The Mount Washington Valley Ski Team is based out of North Conway, N.H. MWV skis at Mt. Cranmore, Attitash, Wildcat, King Pine and Shawnee Peak, offering a multitude of training opportunities on an unmatched variety of terrain. In addition to weekend programming, MWV has a partnership with Fryeburg Academy and Kennet High School, providing competitive midweek training for athlete’s U16 and up.

Release courtesy of the Mount Washington Valley Ski Team.

Austrian athletes blading through summer training

Austrian national team rookies and veterans have been participating in dryland training camps in preparation for next season. The various camps have included some traditional gym workouts, but also mixed up athlete conditioning with new challenges.

The second ladies’ speed group worked on their reaction times doing karate and their balance on a pump track for rollerblading. Meanwhile, three groups of up-and-coming men and women went to the Austrian’s new World Cup biathlon center. During the four-day training block, there were extensive bike rides, units in the gym as well as rollerblades and shooting training with original biathlon rifles. The training was rounded out with a biathlon relay in the new stadium.

As the next generation trained, a “Back to Race” group ventured to Stanglwirt for a three-day camp for injured athletes. Michaela Kirchgasser, Mirjam Puchner, Anna Veith and several of their teammates took advantage of training and regeneration options at the Hotel Stanglwirt, supported and supervised by Alpine Conditioning Manager Peter Petscharnig and Physiotherapist and Trainer Stefan Simon. Aside from access to facilities like a pool for workouts, the location sits at 3000 meters, allowing athletes to train their cardiovascular systems for high-altitude conditions, according to Petscharnig.

“It is important to us that we have a location and know exactly where each one is on their way back. We talk a lot together, in order to define new stage lines,” said Meinhard Tatschl, a long-time coach of Veith. “Further joint training courses are planned so that the big goal – back to race – will come true for the new season.”

Releases courtesy of Austrian Ski Federation

Are 2019 aims to limit climate impact through ambitious agreement

The Are 2019 World Championships has joined forces with the Jaemtland County government to promote sustainable development and limit climate impact. The organizing committee is proud to be part of the ambitious agreement to stage a fossil fuel-free World Championships as announced by the Jaemtland County government Tuesday.

The broad-based charter, initiated by the government and developed in cooperation with the Jaemtland Haerjedalen region, the municipalities of Are and Oestersund, and the organizers of both Are 2019 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships and the Östersund 2019 IBU Biathlon World Championships, as well as the World Championship Region 2019, defines a number of concrete measures that pave the way for a new milestone in winter sports event organization and help forge a more sustainable future.

“Ensuring positive legacies and showing respect for the environment are at the core of our mission and integrated in all our work,” said Niklas Carlsson, CEO of Are 2019. “To manage the event’s impact further, we have created a structured sustainability program and one of our priorities is limiting climate impact by reducing the event’s carbon footprint.”

“This agreement, supported by the county, regional and municipal governments, provides us with an incredible platform to reinforce our commitment by including all the key partners, such as the main regional transport and power suppliers,” added Carlsson. “It will also be a powerful tool for involving our sponsors and for engaging the public in our efforts to promote sustainability in winter sports.”

The agreement for a fossil fuel-free World Championships outlines a number of commitments to ensure that the events promote sustainable practices and development in areas such as public transport, electric vehicles, renewable energy and innovation. It builds upon the existing vision of the Jaemtland Haerjedalen region to become a fossil fuel-free region by 2030 and furthers a cooperation known as the Green Highway, set up with the neighboring Trondelag region of Norway.

Only 600 days remain until the World Championships in 2019. The final test events during the upcoming 2018-2019 ski season will include the third edition of the Stockholm City Event at Hammarbybacken on Jan. 30 and the FIS World Cup Finals in March 2018. Anyone interested in volunteering to help may register on the official website.

Release courtesy of Are 2019

Kristoffersen’s absence exposes rift in Norwegian team

Henrik Kristoffersen’s ongoing disagreement with the Norwegian Ski Federation over the terms of his personal sponsorships and national team agreement has now entered its second year. Despite reaching an agreement with the federation prior to last season’s World Cup opener in Soelden, Austria, surrounding his personal sponsorship with Red Bull, Kristoffersen’s relationship remained strained with the federation throughout the season. A few members of the Norwegian Alpine Committee’s leadership have resigned in the aftermath.

Now, Norwegian broadcaster NRK reports that Kristoffersen is the only Norwegian athlete yet to sign their 2017-18 national team agreement and has been banned from participating in team workouts and other events until the issue has been resolved.

So far this spring, Kristoffersen has been training on his own in Oslo.

?? #crossfitoslo #givesyouwings #reebok

A post shared by Henrik Kristoffersen (@h_kristoffersen) on Jun 9, 2017 at 6:53am PDT

The federation insists that this latest issue does not directly relate to last season’s widely reported sponsorship conflict where the federation would not allow Kristoffersen to wear the Red Bull logo on his headgear at competitions, media events, and team functions, but stems from other issues between Kristoffersen and the federation.

According to NRK sources, it is believed that Kristoffersen breached disciplinary and sponsorship rules repeatedly last season and was disciplined by the federation for doing so. Additionally, this ongoing saga has reportedly strained relations between Kristofferson and his teammates to a point where some athletes have expressed concerns about his inclusion on the team at all.

Kristoffersen, his father and manager, Lars, and the federation have all been tight-lipped so far on the specifics of this latest chapter, and all other Norwegian athletes have been asked to not comment on the matter.

If Kristoffersen and the federation fail to come to an agreement on his status with the national team before the season starts, separate arrangements will have to be made that will allow Kristoffersen to receive his Norwegian skiing license which would make him eligible to compete in World Cups and the upcoming 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Kristoffersen’s separate court case with the federation regarding his Red Bull contract is set to be heard in Norwegian high court later this year after being defeated in district court last December.


Guadagnini looking for gold from Italian women’s team

The Italian women’s team, led by Head Coach Matteo Guadagnini, is looking ahead after a season which broke all kinds of records. The upcoming year will be full of major events like the Winter Olympic Games and expectations are high. Last season, the team earned 25 podium finishes by five different athletes, five beautiful victories (three by Sofia Goggia and two by Federica Brignone) and first place in the women’s Nations Cup.

“The girls have reached a certain physical maturity, mental and technical,” Guadagnini said. “They have the quality to fight at the highest levels in both competitions… Goggia and Brignone can compete for the best results on the World Cup, have the weapons to win in three disciplines, although they will find rivals returning after an injury that will increase competition. However, they are able to bear this responsibility. ”

The Italians will also have their own squad of athletes returning from injury next season.

“Girls like Elena Curtoni, Pichler, Gasslitter and Midali are recovering talents who we cannot abandon, and we must have the patience to wait for them.”

In addition to extensive offseason workouts to get stronger for a very long and important season, the team will get on snow at the end of the summer. The dynamic group will leave for South America to end of August and will return to Italy in early October, traveling between Valle Nevado, Chile, and Ushuaia, Argentina.

Release courtesy of the Italian Ski Federation

FIS and IOC prepare for Beijing 2022 and beyond

FIS President Gian Franco Kasper and Secretary General Sarah Lewis attended the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, which completed its second inspection visit to the Chinese capital on June 13.

On the first day, the Coordination Commission visited four sites in Beijing – the new National Speed Skating Oval, the Capital Indoor Stadium, Wukesong Sports Centre and the Shougang Industry Park. The Capital Indoor Stadium and Wukesong Arena were used during the Summer Olympic Games in 2008, and will be repurposed for the Olympic Winter Games. Alpine skiing events will be hosted outside the city in the Yanqing District.

On day two, Beijing 2022 gave a series of presentations that included updates on venue and competition plans for both the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, organizational structure, and advances made in marketing and communications projects.

Just before the trip, Kasper attended the IOC Executive Board Meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the Board discussed changes to the process for candidate cities hoping to host the Games in future years.

Speaking at a press conference, IOC President Thomas Bach emphasized that, whereas the decision about awarding the Olympic Games 2024 is about a seizing a unique opportunity, the evolution of the candidature process for the Olympic Games 2026 is about addressing the specific challenge that the candidature process has become too expensive and too onerous, and produces too many losers. For the 2026 candidature process, the IOC will take a more proactive role in assisting and supporting cities considering a candidature. The IOC will customize its approach to the needs of the cities in order for them to develop the best value proposition. These measures will lead to a simplified process for the cities with reduced costs. The new approach will be discussed at the IOC Session in July.

Release courtesy of FIS

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