From Rolf Arne Odiin,
Chairman AIPS Nordic Ski and Biathlon Commission
OSLO, July 25, 2008 - A revolution has taken place in the world of international ski jumping ahead of the forthcoming World Championship winter.
Germany, Finland, Poland, Switzerland, Slovenia, USA, Korea, Slovakia, Estonia, Kazakhstan and Bulgaria have all fired their former head coaches and found interesting replacements – some of them new, others well known and experienced trainers in the world of ski jumping.
Staying on the field are the successful head coaches Aleksander Pointer of Austria and the Finn Mika Kojonkoski training the Norwegians. Their team’s results last season were so strong that everybody wanted them to stay and coach the teams on their way to the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver in February 2010
Included among the new names is Janne Vaetainen, recruited to continue the fantastic Finnish traditions to even better times. Germany has struggled after the glorious years of Sven Hannawald and Martin Schmidt and is hoping that Werner Schuster will bring back the golden times.
Former German jumper and coach Joachim Winterlich will obviously have a tough task to bring the Bulgarian team nearer to the international top standard. The situation is echoed with former Austrian top athlete Martin Høllwarth who is struggling with the Estonian team.
Former DDR star Jochen Danneberg is leaving for America hoping to bring the Yankees back to former quality when neighbour Canada hosts the Olympics next winter.
In Slovakia they hope that Milan Pilipkov can bring fresh results, Kazakhstan has faith in Dionis Wodnew’s work for the future and Kim Hung Soo will try to set new standards when the Korean’s brand new hill is ready for use.
Experienced Matjaz Zupan could bring Slovenia to new surprises, Lukas Kruczek will make more than a one-man “Adam Malysz team” for Poland’s future and Martin Kunzle will try the same way to make Switzerland a complete team.
In Russia the former German coach Wolfgang Steiert continues his work to bring the world’s biggest nations back to the golden years of the sixties when Gary Napalkov and Vladimir Beloussov seemed to be unbeatable.
“We should be on our way to improve internationally, but we have a huge problem – there is no jumping hill of international quality in Russia at the moment,” says head coach Wolfgang Steiert. He has taken the team to a training camp in Finland and will continue the training in Germany’s Hinterzarten, hoping that the brand new hill in the Olympic city of Sochi will bring a brighter future to his sport.
The Summer Grand Prix starts tomorrow, July 26, in Hinterzarten (GER), continuing in Einsieldeln (SUI), Courchevel (FRA), Pragelato (ITA) and finally Zakopane (POL).
“The FIS Grand Prix is already an established fixture in preparation for the upcoming World Cup season 2008/20099. Not only does this series help our athletes and coaches in evaluating their current performance levels, but it also helps out hosts and FIS in testing improvements and innovations in the competition field,” says race director Walter Hofer, looking forward to the winter highlighted by the World Ski Championship in Liberec, pre-Olympics in Vancouver and the Four Hill tournament.