The FIS is taking action to address an unusually high number of season-ending injuries on the
World Cup ski racing tour. The first thing they’ve discovered is that they aren’t sure what action
In mid-December, FIS president Gian Franco Kasper called for meetings with the coaches,
the athletes and other involved parties to, he said “identify commonalities and to seek practi-
The first of those meetings, with six top athletes, was held at Val Gardena, Italy, on Dec. 16.
Though the meeting, held by FIS men’s race director Guenther Hujara and representative rac-
ers Aksel Lund Svindal, Didier Cuche, Michael Walchhofer, Marco Buechel, Werner Heel and
Scott Macartney, was labeled “productive,” and a “very good agenda,” had been established,
what they found was a lack of both commonalities and practical solutions.
In the meantime each injury is striking teams hard. France has lost its defending Cup slalom
champion in Jean-Baptiste Grange. Austria lost former Cup overall champion Nicole Hosp,
Italy has lost Denise Karbon and Canada the world downhill champ in John Kucera. While the
teams have other bodies, these are team leaders impossible to replace.
Accidents that have sent these and others to the sidelines or into treatment have come in dif-
ferent disciplines and under different conditions, occurring for different reasons. Some, such
as the injuries to Grange and Italian GS champ Karbon, have not even kept the athletes from
completing their runs.
“The recent accidents all have different injury patterns,” said Hujara. “This makes it difficult
for us to find solutions. … There will be no single answer to fix everything.”
The FIS has long been safety conscious, establishing regulations to guide everything from
technical aspects of ski, boot and binding construction, to the on-hill specifications for safety
blames climate change.
Kelly VanderBeek, down
at Val d’Isere, France.
netting and facilities for evacuating injured racers
from the hill to medical facilities. Several seasons
ago, an injury-monitoring system was put in place
to systematically collect and analyze data on all reported injuries, but this latest rash has officials a bit
baffled. “The reasons for the latest accidents appear
to be quite varied,” said Kasper. So picking a starting
point for correcting the issue is problematic.
Equipment design is definitely a suspect. The concept that ski technology has surpassed some of the
tour’s traditional racecourses has long been held,
now some think it has outpaced the human body.
The solutions suggested so far — slower course
settings, different equipment regulations, smaller
jumps, better refinement of the process of injecting
race hills to create a firmer surface — are easier said
than done and not universally effective.
Some (such as equipment modification)
would be nearly impossible in mid-season.
Courses are already being set slower; certainly
the DH track at Beaver
Creek was altered to
slow racers down, and it
still took out Dalcin. Val
Gian Franco Kasper