By Mike Rowbottom

LonginesOctober 27 - Longines, the Swiss watch brand which is the official timekeeper for the International Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine Ski World Cup competitions and the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, has introduced a new award this season designed to support young competitors - the Longines Rising Ski Stars prize.

For the 2012/2013 ski season, this award will go to the best young female (under-21) and male (under-23) athlete taking part in the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup.

It consists of a trophy and a Longines watch as well as a cheque for 20,000 CHF (£13,000/$21,000/€17,000).

The prizes will be presented to the winners in the frame of a gala event at the end of the season.

The company already organises the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament at Roland Garros for young tennis talents under the age of 13.

And, during the Prix de Diane Longines, the company also organise Longines Future Racing Stars, a race for young and promising European jockeys from France, England, Germany, Ireland and Italy.

Longines Rising_Ski_Stars_prizeThe new Longines Rising Ski Stars prize was presented yesterday during a press conference in Sölden, Austria

Günter Hujara, FIS chief race director for the men's alpine, commented: "When you know how difficult it is to break through in the very competitive and tight field of the world's top athletes competing in the men's FIS Alpine Ski World Cup, it is absolutely correct to focus on the extraordinary performances by the best young athletes and bring them to the spotlight of the global audiences."

Atle Skaardal, FIS chief race director for the ladies' alpine, added: "This is an excellent initiative.

"Besides underlining the great cooperation between FIS and Longines, it will provide an additional highlight for the circuit to be keenly followed by the fans and will surely also be well-received by the racers."

The brand's long association with competitive ski started in Chamonix in 1933.

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