The world ski body FIS transmits new ideas to rethink alpine racing

GENEVA (AP) – With the goal of making their sport more dynamic and engaging, alpine ski officials on Thursday discussed new race formats and the possibility of more frequent world championships.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) used its preseason meeting for alpine team leaders, athletes and race organizers to publicize ideas such as organizing marquee downhill events into separate races for elite and junior runners.

The idea of ​​adding a third world championship during the four-year Olympic cycle was also raised. Currently, Alpine Worlds are celebrated in February of every odd year.

“We have the idea of ​​implementing another big event,” said FIS Secretary General Michel Vion, suggesting that something like “mini Olympics” could be created in 2024 or 2028, years when there are no major championships in the world. calendar.

New career formats and innovation in broadcasting were promised by the new president of the FIS, Johan Eliasch when he was elected in June. He is only its fifth president in 97 years.

Eliasch, the billionaire head of the tennis and ski brand Head, created working groups to explore new ideas.

It wouldn’t be enough to change just a little, FIS marketing director Jürg Capol said at the online meeting, while offering radical ideas for rethinking Alpine’s calendar.

Capol highlighted a focus on traditional downhill, giant slalom and slalom events that provided for the super-G crash. The second speed discipline joined the World Cup program in 1982 and the 1988 Calgary Winter Games Olympics.

Capol also suggested a downhill structure of level A and B races on the same day with ascent and descent during the season.

A top-tier race could show only 24 elite descents. A downhill World Cup usually has more than 50 participants and continues long after the podium result is known.

Offering more compact streaming spaces, Capol’s vision included dividing Alpine’s traditional disciplines into “Classic” and “Shorter Race” formats of less than an hour.

Athletes’ representative Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen said more late-night events are likely to be held under floodlights in future seasons.

No formal proposal has been drawn up, but the FIS is expected to develop ideas before a congress of national federations next May in Portugal.

The FIS has already removed the fifth Olympic discipline, Alpine Combined, from the World Cup circuit this season, although the men’s and women’s medal races will take place at the Beijing Olympics on February 4-20.

The two main courses to be used at the Olympics, separate but close hills for sprinting and technical races in Yanqing, are “relatively steep” and “very, very challenging,” said FIS official Atle Skaardal.

World Cup runners have not skied on those slopes because visits and test runs were canceled as the COVID-19 outbreak turned into a pandemic.

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