The first FIS Spring Committee Meetings to take place in almost four years were held this week in Dubrovnik (CRO), with a busy few days of sit-downs culminating in the gathering of the FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski committee on Friday afternoon.
After a successful 2022/23 World Cup season much was discussed in the lead-up sub-committee meetings for Moguls & Aerials, Snowboard Alpine, Park & Pipe, Alpine Ski Cross and Snowboard Cross, with over 90 rule proposals presented throughout the week and brought to the Committee meeting for approval to send to the FIS Council.
We also saw presentations from the recently-formed FIS Media & Marketing division, the newly-acquired Freeride World Tour, and from World Championships hosts past and future.
Read on for a look at some of the key decisions from the week…
Freestyle (Moguls & Aerials)
No major decisions, although discussions concerning remote and automated judging continue. Concepts for synchronized aerials competitions as well as for a summer aerials water ramp tour were presented.
Park & Pipe/Freeski
Within the rules area to highlight, the Park & Pipe Sub-Committee supported Rail as a new event within Park & Pipe. World Cup quotas, judging criteria in freeski, formats and overall event structure proposals need further review before the fall meetings. Transition of WSPL Ranking List to new data provider has taken place, with the objective to automate tabulation of points as much of the process as possible.
One of the main points in the Alpine SB SC was the approval of the implementation of banked slalom as a new event into the 2000 section, providing the chance to create a synchronization with the Paralympic world where banked is an Olympic discipline.
The coordination with Ski Cross is positively continuing regarding overlapping rules and joint events, though the ongoing uncertainty about where Ski Cross is going within FIS makes it more complicated in some points. Ranking formats for qualifications were discussed, with the “holistic” format preferred. Discussions regarding the implementation of city SBX events were engaging, while more pressing issues on ensuring necessary funding for SBX competitions on the World Cup and Continental Cup levels will be discussed further at the autumn meetings in Zurich.
Alpine Ski Cross
Establishing Ski Cross’s discipline position within the FIS family of events remains the most pressing issue, and a proposal to have Ski Cross exist as a stand-alone event will be brought to the FIS Council at the end of the month. Synergies with SBX continue to be defined.
Testing machines are ready and the FIS flour ban will come into full effect ahead of the 2023/24 World Cup season. FIS has remained committed to banning flour products used in ski preparation given the health risks and environmental concerns connected to fluorine waxes. Working with Bruker, a leading manufacturer of high-performance scientific instruments, while maintaining a close collaboration with the International Biathlon Union (IBU) through a joint working group, an effective and accurate testing method was developed. FIS spent the last winter carrying out extensive testing of the device and training of the officials who will carry out the testing, ensuring that the device will provide reliable results to ensure fluor-free competitions.
Synchronized Aerials and summer circuit Aerials, rail-only competitions for Park & Pipe, and banked slalom racing formats for Snowboard Alpine are all in the works for the coming seasons, although much work remains to be done before most of these formats hit the FIS competition schedule.
Note that all decisions need to be approved by the FIS Council at their Spring Meeting on May 24.
FIS Media & Marketing
Perhaps the most exciting and forward-thinking addition to this year’s FIS Spring Meetings came in the form of the Media & Marketing group, formed in the 2022/23 season. Bringing broadcast rights in-house remains the number one priority for FIS M&M, and already the group has taken control of all FISMAG contracts and brought these things in-house. A huge and multifaceted overhaul of the FIS brand is underway as FIS takes control of its own future in regards to rights and content, and FIS M&M is leading the way. Sponsorship strategies, utilizing our athletes and competitions to reach even greater audiences in Asia, and finding global partners for our events and competitions are key focuses. Expanding the FIS digital presence for freestyle and snowboard and building a new FIS website and app are also priorities.
Freeride World Tour
A presentation from FWT CEO Nicolas Hale-Woods came as a breath of fresh air, with the hugely popular tour highlighting a new way forward in terms of competition presentation, fan engagement and content production. The longterm vision is to integrate FWT as a FIS discipline with World Championships and Olympics participation. FWT has proven engagement numbers with 283m people reached and 4.24% engagement rate in content throughout the season.
A recap presentation from the hugely successful Bakuriani 2023 organiser, as well as exceptional forward looking presentations from future hosts Engadin 2025 (SUI) and Montafon 2027 (AUT) hosts shows that the FIS Freestyle Ski, Snowboard and Freeski World Championships are in very good hands.