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50 years of the fis ski world cup

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50 years of the fis ski world cup
The 2016/2017 ski season marked the 50th birthday of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup. To commemorate the coming of age of its first World Cup tour, FIS and the event organisers took turns in staging various festivities during the 50th anniversary season.
A brief history of the FIS ski world cup
Introduced during the FIS World Championships in Portillo, Chile, in August 1966, the inaugural season of the FIS World Cup in 1967 saw 17 races take place for both men and ladies. Some of the so-called “Classics”, such as Kitzbühel and Wengen, participated from the beginning. The first race, a men’s slalom, was held in Berchtesgaden, Germany, on 5 January 1967, followed by the ladies’ premiere just two days later in Oberstaufen, Germany. Heinrich Messner from Austria and Nancy Greene from Canada became the first winners. By March 2017, more than 3200 FIS Ski World Cup races have been held on all five continents and with tens of thousands of racers participating.
Sölden sets the tone
The celebrations began already at the glacier opening in Sölden, Austria, during the annual FIS Forum Alpinum, where members of the racing community and representatives of the media traditionally gather for a kick-off. A special honour was presented to Heinrich Messner, winner of the historical first race, at the October 2016 Forum. Starting with the races in Sölden, a special “50 years FIS Ski World Cup” logo was incorporated on the shoulder of all starting bibs worn by the racers, in TV graphics and broadcasting as well as in diverse other promotional items used throughout the season. Further celebrations were held for example at the annual Skipass exhibition in Modena, the biggest fair held in Italy every November to promote winter sports and tourism. A special 50th anniversary celebration saw the participation of one of Italy’s biggest skiing heroes, Deborah Compagnoni, along with Italian journalists Lucio Zampino and Massimo Di Marco, who witnessed the birth of the FIS Ski World Cup in 1967.
Legends galore in zagreb
The FIS Ski World Cup event that coincided with the actual 50th anniversary of the first race was the Snow Queen Trophy in Zagreb, Croatia. To celebrate the occasion, the organising committee of the ladies’ and men’s slalom events in the Croatian capital staged an exhibition race on 4 January 2017, featuring 18 current and former overall World Cup champions. The invitational event was held on a 165-metre-long ski slope on Bakačeva Street, right in the city centre of Zagreb. The celebration, entitled “Zagreb Celebrates 50 Years of FIS Alpine Ski World Cup,” attracted some 15,000 spectators. Croatia's ski star siblings Janica and Ivica Kostelic were joined in the race by a number of ski legends and World Cup champions including the first winner of the men’s World Cup in 1967, the legendary Jean-Claude Killy, along with Karl Schranz, Annemarie Moser-Pröll, Marc Girardelli, Marcel Hirscher, Alberto Tomba, Andreas Wenzel, Tamara McKinney, Pernilla Wiberg, Tina Maze, Renate Götschl, Michaela Dorfmeister and Petra Kronberger.
From the past into the future
To demonstrate how technology and equipment have changed in the course of 50 years, slalom gates from the past five decades were used and the legends wore equipment from their own racing days. Additionally, the Zagreb organisers had invited representatives from every World Cup Organising Committee between 1967 and 2017 to participate in the celebrations and a parade of organisers that preceded the legends race.“The participation in the Zagreb celebrations by many great champions and outstanding organisers from the past 50 years of the FIS Ski World Cup underlined the true global impact the series has made. This is a special moment for the sport to be proud of its achievements, and also an exciting one to look ahead to the next 50 years of history,” said Sarah Lewis, FIS Secretary General.
Season ending on a high note
In conjunction of the season finals in Aspen, USA from 15-19 March 2017, the Bob Beattie Ski Foundation also hosted a birthday party for the FIS Ski World Cup. Bob Beattie was one of the founders of the tour, along with the French journalist Serge Lang and the head coach of the French Ski team Honoré Bonnet. At the historic Hotel Jerome, Beattie was joined by some of the sport’s brightest stars for an evening to recall the early days of the tour and to share insider stories. Longines, the Official Partner and Timekeeper of FIS, also marked the World Cup’s 50th anniversary by featuring a limited edition of The Longines Saint-Imier Collection. Two models, a women’s and men’s version, were dedicated to the milestone with an exclusive commemorative print in the transparent back. At the Aspen Finals, the special watches were presented to the representatives of FIS and national ski associations. Longines has been involved in alpine skiing since 1924, and indeed witnessed the birth of the FIS Ski World Cup on-site as the timekeeper of the 1966 Championships in Portillo.
Hats off to the organisers
Various other World Cup organisers, including the members of Club Five, the union of leading alpine ski race organisers many of whom were part of the original schedule in 1967, also staged special activities to honour the anniversary. These ranged from special museum exhibitions, for example in Kitzbühel, to a triple celebration of different anniversaries in Crans-Montana. Indeed, the anniversary celebrations will still continue as some organisers, such as Val Gardena-Gröden, will celebrate their very own 50th anniversaries still later this year. In conclusion of the season, at the traditional FIS Calendar Conference in Portoroz, Slovenia, in May, FIS further honoured the contribution of the event organisers to the success of the World Cup. Each National Ski Association and Organising Committee from the first 50 years was presented with a special anniversary edition of the FIS Ski World Cup jubilee starting bib and received a personal letter recognising the essential role they have played. FIS now looks forward to embarking on the next 50 years of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup.
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