(ATR) PyeongChang 2018 president Jin Sun Kim tells delegates to the 48th International Ski Congress in Kangwonland, South Korea that “skiing is the most important winter sport”.
Jin Sun Kim, chair of POCOG. (ATR)
Around 800 representatives from 75 national ski associations are in attendance at the biennial FIS assembly, where meetings kicked off Sunday with the official Congress to be held to come Friday. The gathering is being held at the massive High 1 Resort hotel and casino complex.
It’s the first time the Congress has taken place in Asia, specifically in the mountainous eastern region of South Korea and approximately an hour-and-a-half’s drive from PyeongChang, host of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
“It’s an opportune time for us be here,” said Tom Kelly, vice president of communications for the United States Ski & Snowboard Association.
“We’ve had presentations from PyeongChang, we’re going to look at the venues and Bernhard Russi (FIS course designer) is going to look at the downhill this weekend, so it’s actually pretty convenient.”
Coincidentally, the decision to hold the Congress in Kangwonland was made prior to PyeongChang winning hosting rights last July.
“We’re located a little south of PyeongChang; this is kind of the broad Olympic region, it’s not right there, although because of the sheer magnitude of the resort it will definitely play a role in the Olympics,” said Kelly.
“One of the things that’s important for us too with these Olympics is that the ski venues are all centric to PyeongChang, while the skating venues are in town which is usually the opposite, so that’s important,” said Kelly.
Important orders of business include the selection of the host cities and organizers of future FIS World Championships on Thursday evening, election of the FIS Council for 2012-2014 and a visit to the future Olympic ski and snowboard venues.
Are, Sweden; Cortina d’Ampezzo and St. Moritz are campaigning for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2017.
Lahti, Finland; Obserstdorf, Germany; Planica, Slovenia and Zakopane, Poland are the candidates for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2015.
Sole bids from Kulm/Bad Mitterndorf, Austria for the FIS Ski Flying World Ski Championships 2016 and Sierra Nevada, Spain for the FIS Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships 2017 should also be confirmed Thursday in Kangwonland.
Alpine Rules Issues Addressed
Also to be discussed at the Congress is the controversial FIS decision to modify the ski dimensions for alpine racing, changes to take effect next season.
A light and water fountain show for the FIS Congress at Kangwonland Hotel. (Courtesy Tom Kelly/USSA)
While it’s unlikely any revisions will be made to the newly imposed rules intended to improve racer safety, the FIS Council seems open to discuss the process, which neglected to include testing among female racers and many believe progressed with a complete lack of transparency.
The new equipment rules have been highly criticized by racers, manufacturers and national governing bodies.
FIS also forewarned that next season stricter sanctions will be levied against racers who violate the commercial logo rule, including hefty fines or even immediate disqualification from races.
According to the FIS Advertising Matters Committee, over-sized logos on athlete headgear and goggle straps present the biggest problem, and rules on size limits will be strictly enforced going forward.
In response to the announcement, three-time giant slalom World Cup champion Ted Ligety wrote on Twitter: “FIS genius: amateur-ize skiing, kill athletes ability to be marketable thus shut them up.”
Athletes Commission Seeks Impact
Now chaired by former alpine racer Killian Albrecht , the FIS Athletes Commission was established four years ago with an eye toward better engagement and transparency between skiers and FIS.
FIS Athletes Commission member Kikkan Randall addresses the FIS Mass Media Committee. (Courtesy Tom Kelly/USSA)
According to Kelly, who also serves as chairman of the FIS PR & Mass Media Committee, the impact is beginning to become noticeable at this week’s Congress in Kangwonland.
“For sure, there is a much greater engagement of athletes at this set of meetings than in the past,” said Kelly. “More and more of the sports are looking for their engagement and we’re happy to see some positive signs.”
An example of the progress at the Congress was the presence of U.S. cross-country skier and World Cup champion Kikkan Randall, who addressed FIS regarding the “Clean as Snow” anti-doping campaign.
Kelly noted that presence of the athletes sport committees was most notable in the disciplines of cross-country and freestyle skiing.
Success of World Snow Day
Andi Cholinski reports on World Snow Day. (Courtesy Tom Kelly/USSA)
Early in the week, FIS project manager Andi Cholinski discussed the success of “World Snow Day”, an event created by FIS in conjunction with the “Bring Children to the Snow” campaign introduced in 2007. Both entities are designed with the primary goal of keeping children as active participants in snow sports.
Cholinski advised that social media was the key to generating mass participation in the event, which debuted Jan. 22 and involved more than 200,000 participants in 39 countries.
In 2013, “World Snow Day” will once again be observed, this time on Jan. 20.
Vail/Beaver Creek Unveils Slogan
“Dream It, Live It, Share It,” says Vail/Beaver Creek 2015. (Courtesy Tom Kelly/USSA)
Nearly two years ago, Vail/Beaver Creek, Colorado won its bid to host the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championship during the previous FIS Congress in Antalya, Turkey.
This week in Kangwonland, organizers from Vail/Beaver Creek officially unveiled their theme for the upcoming world champs: “Dream It, Live It, Share It”.
Not surprisingly, Olympic downhill champion and Vail resident Lindsey Vonn is featured prominently as the campaign’s poster girl.
Reported by Brian Pinelli.
For general comments or questions, click here.
20 Years at #1: Your best source of news about the Olympics is www.aroundtherings.com, for subscribers only.