OUT OF THE GATE
Should the FIS be awarding points for
the Jan. 2 event? BY HANK MCKEE
Munich Parallel Slalom Race Stirs
Up Controversy among Athletes
There’s nothing like a parallel slalom to create some controversy and the World Cup parallel slalom scheduled to take place in
Munich, Germany, seems destined to fall in line.
The Jan. 2 race, following in the footsteps of the Moscow event of
recent seasons, will be held in a city atmosphere at Munich’s Olympic Park. It will be a far step from a scaffold on a city street, however, as the massive park has been a major tourist attraction for
Munich since it was created for the 1972 Summer Olympic Games.
It is sure to draw spectators and that is what makes it attractive.
But while the Moscow race was purely an exhibition, the event on
Jan. 2 will count for World Cup points and therein lies the controver-
sy. The fields for the event
will be limited to the top 16
men and 16 women in the
overall ranking. The winners
will get 100 points added to
their overall scores, and ev-
ery skier making the final
selection will get a minimum
of 15 points.
“I’m definitely looking for-
ward to it,” says three-time
World Cup overall champi-
on Lindsey Vonn. “It’s in the
Olympic stadium. I think it’s
great for the sport. The only
thing I’m not excited about is
awarding World Cup points
for an event we’ve never had before. I, personally, have never run
a parallel slalom in my life.”
The last time the World Cup scored a parallel slalom was in 1997.
In 1986, a parallel was held in Vienna, but was scored only for Na-
tions Cup points.
From the FIS point of view, awarding points is a way to ensure the
top competitors attend. The contention is that, at least in the men’s
case, there’s a four-to-two chance the top skiers will be more heavily weighted to downhill specialists than to slalom racers.
As FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis points out, a parallel sla-
lom is so non-slalom-like, it isn’t likely to make that much of a dif-
ference. The parallel, she says: “is another facet of the sport. The
overall World Cup is a test of different skills across different types
of competition and this is just another one of those. Probably, a par-
allel slalom is less slalom-specific. It’s a sprint, a short event, less
technical with little change of terrain.”
The idea, Lewis says, is to get these athletes in front of some
spectators who might not otherwise tune in or come out to see
In the immediate Munich area, in a very short time span surrounding the even, a wide variety of winter sports are scheduled. “This
is where the heart of winter sports is taking place,” says Lewis.
“You will be having basically the whole Olympics being held in that
region. It will be very high profile. It is an incredible opportunity for
our sport, no question.”
More than 4,000 tickets have been sold weeks ahead of the Munich race and winter conditions in the city are an indicator the event
can be successfully held.
Unless things change dramatically between now and Jan. 2, the
U.S. will have four competitors: Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso, Bode
Miller and Ted Ligety. As of Dec. 13, Erik Guay was on the bubble
of qualifying and becoming the only Canadian in the race.
With a total purse of 200,000 Swiss francs and full points available, its a pretty tough event to pass up and certainly those invited
will be attending.
“I was just surprised at the way FIS approached it,” said Vonn.
“The athletes didn’t have a say. It could have been handled better.
... Honestly I love the event and the idea... but I’m not excited about
awarding overall points.”