and an expert technical group, “to try and anticipate what other
things can be done to find safer solutions without detracting from
the nature of our exciting, thrilling, spectacular sport,” says Lewis.
“It’s a big scope of work.”
The second phase also engages teams at the University of Salzburg led by Professor Erich Mueller and at the Technical University
of Munich led by Professor Veit Senner who are working directly
with FIS Chief Race Directors Atle Skaardal and Guenther Hujara.
Both of these universities have conducted several studies on ski
injuries, have extensive experience in snow sports and have joined
to contribute their knowledge to the FIS ISS.
Toward the end of this month, Professor Mueller will present his
current work to the FIS Alpine Executive Board in Kitzbuehel and
to the World Cup coaches in St Moritz (ladies) and in Kitzbuehel
According to Dr. Bahr, what is perceived as an increase in inju-
ries (particularly last season when a spate of early-season injuries
drew attention to the problem) is actually about normal. “There
has been no increase in the injury rate since the surveillance was
started in 2006,” he reports. “The injury rate has been stable.”
Dr. Bahr adds that it is unlikely that it will possible to develop a
‘magic bullet,’ a single solution to the injury problem. “Rather a
range of measures to prevent injuries will be reviewed,” he says,
“which will involve equipment regulations, course preparation,
course setting and safety measures.”
That’s a big range, but the FIS has never been shy about reg-
ulation. The current International Competition Rules book is 121
The problem is isolating injury causes and eliminating, or at least
moderating them. It’s a tough scenario when the innovations come
quick. Injection is one example.
A couple of seasons ago, site organizers began experimenting
with course injection, a process of shooting water into the snow
with high powered nozzles and
letting it set-up overnight. At one
point considered the best thing
since sliced bread for creating
courses hard enough to withstand the pressures of top-end
skiers, the process had thus far
this year been used sparingly.
When it was, the athletes spoke
“Obviously when you put water
on the snow and when it’s minus
35 you’re going to get a sheet
of ice,” said two-time World Cup
champion and triple Olympic
medalist Aksel Svindal after the
Lake Louise downhill on Nov.
27. “It [the surface at Lake Louise] was bulletproof. I understand
maybe they needed [to inject] because there was little snow. I’m
not complaining. But we talked about it so much in the past and
now, here in the first race already it is pure ice. Maybe that is what
needed to be done to have a race but I think it [ski racing] should
be a snow sport and not an ice sport.”
German racer Andreas Strodl suffered second-degree tears of
both the ACL and MCL on the course the next day.
“Very sophisticated, very serious work” is being conducted to reduce the rate of injuries, says FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis.