The FIS Grand Prix in Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined kicked off in Hinterzarten (GER) last weekend with an individual competition in Nordic Combined, and both a team and individual competition in Ski Jumping. The busy competition schedule then saw the teams travel to Italy where another event followed in Val di Fiemme for Nordic Combined and in Pragelato for Ski Jumping before the third competitions in Oberstdorf (GER) and Courchevel (FRA), respectively.
For many athletes the summer events serve as a great fitness check for the upcoming season. At least based on claiming two victories in the two individual events so far, Switzerland’s Simon Ammann seems to be heading towards a highly successful Olympic season. After winning with a new hill record in the second round in Hinterzarten, Ammann delivered two consistent jumps on the 2006 Olympic hill in Pragelato.
Besides winning two new mountain bikes that were given as special prizes for the individual event winners, Ammann now leads the overall GP ranking with 200 points. He is followed by Adam Malysz who finished 2nd in Pragelato. Anders Jacobsen of Norway, 2nd in Hinterzarten, is third in the standings.
In Nordic Combined, the rankings are led by Jonathan Felisaz of France ahead of Ronny Heer (SUI) and Christoph Bieler (AUT), the winners of the two competitions, who are tied for second place. As the Nordic Combined summer series does not count for points and quota places during the first World Cup period, and the Cross-Country portion is competed on inline skates (not roller skis), several athletes and teams are opting for individually tailored schedules rather than completing the entire program with four competitions.
The Summer Grand Prix is also serving as a pilot for testing proposed new rules in Ski Jumping. “So far so good,” commented FIS Race Director Walter Hofer after the very first competitions in Hinterzarten. “I have to say I am pleasantly disappointed with the lack of heavy criticism and negative feedback. But, of course, we will take advantage of all Grand Prix competitions for testing the suggested rule changes before drawing any conclusions.”