. world ski news : Alpine Skiing Season Review - 12 April 2010 - 15:28
Q: How was the season 2009/2010 in your view?
Günter Hujara: Generally speaking, it was a successful season. Especially when it comes to the presentation of the sport: We had both great champions and new concepts like the pilot of a new format for the Nations' Team Event which we carried out at the Audi FIS Ski World Cup Finals in Garmisch. Athletes, such as the men's overall champion Carlo Janka, demonstrate the importance of broad technical training as the foundation for victory. New records of on-site spectators also speak for themselves of the success of Alpine ski racing. In January alone, more than 300'000 spectators attended the men's Audi FIS Ski World Cup events. Initial reports on TV viewers also speak of a successful season, including during the Vancouver Olympic Games.
Organizationally, we can be pleased that we did not lose a single race of the men's Audi FIS Ski World Cup this season. We have reached a very high overall quality of organization on our World Cup tour. We can also say the same for the Olympic Winter Games where, despite the challenging weather conditions and thanks to immense efforts, we were able to deliver very high quality races.
At the same time, we have to note a large number of injuries, especially during the early season, which then leveled off on our return to Europe from North America. To find some immediate solutions, e,g. speed control especially in GS and SL, we have consulted and will continue to engage our main stakeholder groups including the athletes and coaches on a regular basis.
Atle Skaardal: On the whole, it was definitely a good season for the ladies Audi FIS Ski World Cup. We had a lot of snow most of the time and were able to stage numerous good races. We also had a few challenging weekends with high winds, for example, but in the end only lost one super combined race all season. In long-term comparisons this is excellent.
From a sports perspective, it was an exciting season with tough fights for some individual event titles. Of course there were only two, maximum three, athletes really competing for the overall title from early on in the season. We are lucky to have some great personalities in the ladies' World Cup which makes it interesting and is great promotion for the sport. And we also had the top two best earners in terms of prize money across all FIS World Cup series this season!
At the Vancouver Games, we had very challenging external conditions, yet the good weather window during the second week allowed us to stage the speed events and, in the end, we had very good competitions. There were no big surprises in the results, since the well-known World Cup names also prevailed at the Games.
We're also very happy to see that the recent financial crisis has not had a major impact on our organizers, at least in the short term. All of them maintained or even improved the quality of their events. We're also pleased to see our long-term sponsors and partners continuing to support and be interested in the sport.
Q: What needs to be changed for next season from your perspective?
Günter Hujara: We will need to continue to find new ways of becoming more dynamic as a sport and to find ways to attract the younger generations. This may require us to adjust some of our competition formats, as we have done with the Nations' Team Event, or as demonstrated by the first two editions of the promotional parallel slalom staged in Moscow, the FIS Alpine Champions Cup.
Atle Skaardal: We still need to work on issues that have an impact on the whole product. There are some additional opportunities for calendar optimization and we can also hone certain details related to e.g. course setting and specifics of course safety.
One of our main focus areas will be a long-term reduction in the number of severe injuries. On the ladies' side, we actually started out the season relatively well both in Europe and North America but then saw quite a few bad injuries, especially to the knee. This is an area where there won't be any rapid answers and it will take some time to find the right solutions that actually will deliver the results we are looking for. I am very positive about the progress made by the additional research project we launched together with the University of Salzburg this season. We expect the first indications on the direction they are headed at the upcoming FIS Congress in Antalya in early June. However, we shall keep working on this issue to find real solutions for the future. There will surely be additional initiatives and meetings, beyond our current initiatives in Oslo and Salzburg, which will be undertaken on this topic. We have only seen the beginning for now!
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