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 . world ski news
02 January 2009 - 14:21
Final preparations underway for Moscow promotional parallel slalom
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Snow's falling over Moscow on New Year's Eve just in time to give a feeling of true wintertime to its inhabitants and important foreign visitors - including a group of snow professionals working on the biggest ramp ever built to host a FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Promotional event on January 2nd, 2009.

Specialists from FIS led by World Cup Chief Race Director Guenter Hujara and Swiss course preparation expert Hans Pieren have been working hard for a few days helping local organisers to perfectly prepare the 56 metre-high and 33-metre large ramp situated not too far away from the legendary ‘Red Square' area.

14 world-class-racers and 2 invited Russian champions will compete on Friday evening in a spectacular parallel race attended by a potential crowd of nearly 40,000 people attracted by the unusual happening and famous names such as Bode Miller, Didier Cuche, Aksel Lund Svindal, Jean-Baptiste Grange and many more. Nearly a dozen of European TV stations will show the competition live as well as dozens of Russian broadcasters. A group of international ski journalists also decided to travel to Moscow at that occasion.

The FIS Alpine World Cup promotional event is mostly aimed at stimulating interest for Alpine Skiing as part of the build-up to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. With the strong support of the Russian Ski and Snowboard Association and the School of High Sport Skills "New League", FIS has been working to launch and promote this first major alpine competition in Russia since last spring.

In the early 1980s, the FIS Alpine World Cup Committee had already planned having two technical events organised at Murmansk in February 1983, yet the idea didn't get the final approval of the political leaders from the former Soviet Union so those two races were moved out and finally held in the Alsacian Vosges and the nearby German Black Forest Mountains.

Two decades later, Alpine Skiing and Ski Racing fortunately have a much stronger position in that part of the world - even top political leaders as former President Vladimir Putin - the current Prime Minister of the Russian Federation - are skiing at various occasions including at St Anton during the 2001 FIS World Championships. Mr. Putin also enjoys the company of former ski stars as Austria's Karl Schranz or Switzerland's Bernhard Russi, the 1972 Downhill Olympic Champion who is also helping to design the Olympic downhill course of Sochi.

The big success encountered last year by a ‘Big Air' FIS Snowboard World Cup event held in February on a similar big ramp in front of ten thousand spectators logically created big interest from the promoters of Alpine Skiing. Shortly afterwards, the project of a World Cup promotional parallel slalom was officially presented last spring during the FIS Congress at Cape Town, South Africa.

An even bigger and technically more complicated ramp was erected during several weeks last fall on a square located near the University. The ramp already has one title to its name - it's already in the Guinness Book of Records.

Top skiers were approached including past Overall World Cup champions like Bode Miller and Aksel Lund Svindal who were pleased to come over to help promote their sport.

Since the Russian capital has been experiencing its warmest winter ever, the organizers had to bring in most of the snow from other parts of the country. 4'000 cubic metres of snow were transported from the Kemerovo Region in Siberia, which has received heavy snowfalls recently. The Siberian snow was packed into 300 kilogram bags and sent to Moscow in refrigerated carriages, allowing the skiing event to take place on schedule.

After Christmas, Hans Pieren travelled to Moscow with a special water-injection system to freeze and solidify the snow covering the ramp. "Everything looks nice, people will be amazed by the quality of the job done here, we are all looking forward to an exciting event here," the former ski racer from Adelboden said. "I'm enjoying being associated with this exciting event."


Race director and FIS official Hans Pieren sets up artificial snow at the slope erected for the World Cup parallel slalom, in Moscow, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008. The MGU, Moscow State University, building is seen in the background. The event will take place on Jan. 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)


Workers check out the artificial snow at a slope erected for the World Cup parallel slalom, in Moscow, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008. The MGU, Moscow State University, building is seen in the background. The event will take place on Jan. 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

After the upcoming Alpine Parallel Slalom, more FIS events have been scheduled on the impressive ramp. FIS Freestyle and Snowboard World Cup events will also be organized on it in February and March.

Russian officials are proud to have created those new kinds of world class events and say the mobile ramp could allow other major cities in the country or elsewhere to host alpine skiing and snowboarding competitions in the near future. "We're sure all the upcoming events to be held here will be a great success," said Dmitry Svishchev, Vice-President of the Russian Ski and Snowboarding Federation.


A workers pass by the slope erected for the World Cup parallel slalom, in Moscow, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008. The event will take place on Jan. 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)


Security officers pass by the slope erected for the World Cup parallel slalom, in Moscow, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008. The spire of the MGU, Moscow State University, is seen in the background. The event will take place on Jan. 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

"It could give a boost to other big cities like New York, Paris and London as they don't have the environment to host Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding events yet. This mobile ramp will allow big cities to hold such competitions," he added.


The slope erected for the World Cup parallel slalom is seen during a training session in Moscow, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009. The MGU, Moscow State University, building is seen in the background. The event will take place on Friday. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

On Thursday night, a draw will decide the seeding and the starting order of the 16 qualified racers present at Moscow. The competition will begin at 8 PM local time (5 PM GMT)and will last approximately one hour.

List of participants: Jean-Baptiste Grange (FRA), Manfred Moelgg (ITA) Mario Matt(AUT) Reinfried Herbst (AUT) Julien Lizeroux (FRA), Felix Neureuther (GER), Ted Ligety (USA), Jens Byggmark (SWE) Christian Deville (ITA), Giorgio Rocca (ITA), Bernard Vajdic (SLO), Bode Miller (USA), Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR), Didier Cuche (SUI), Alexander Khoroshilov, Stepan Zuev.

Patrick Lang
FIS
1/1/2009

For more information, visit www.worldcupmoscow.com


 
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Next:
Kuitunen (FIN) and Cologna (SUI) half-time leaders of the Tour de Ski – 02 January 2009 - 14:23
Kuitunen and Teichmann win Tour de Ski mass start races – 04 January 2009 - 10:25
Neureuther wins Moscow promotional parallel slalom event – 04 January 2009 - 10:33
Riesch takes World Cup lead with third slalom win – 04 January 2009 - 14:15
Cologna, Kuitunen win Tour de Ski titles – 05 January 2009 - 11:45

Previous:
Second successive slalom win surprises Riesch in Semmering – 30 December 2008 - 11:31
Follis and Hetland wins Tour de Ski sprints in Prague – 30 December 2008 - 11:31
Ammann starts Four Hills title bid with victory in opener  – 30 December 2008 - 11:31
Zettel wins women's World Cup giant slalom – 28 December 2008 - 20:16
Italy’s Innerhofer notches 1st World Cup victory – 28 December 2008 - 20:15

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