OUT OF THE GATE
With the findings of the ISS in hand, a second research team from
the University of Salzburg was commissioned to solve the problem. Professor Erich Muller and his team interviewed 63 athletes,
coaches and industry experts, focusing on finding a way to reduce
speed and decrease “the self-steering behavior of equipment.” Researchers also conducted experiments using GPS and other high-tech physiological tracking equipment. Muller admitted that several
other “injury driving factors” were not thoroughly investigated due
to time constraints, financial and manufacturing limitations.
After an hour-long presentation of dozens of charts and graphs
produced during the University of Salzburg’s year-long study, the
frustrated athletes rose to their feet and began a steady stream of
questions and doubts surrounding the validity of the researchers’
Reigning overall downhill and super G champion, Swiss veteran
Didier Cuche raised the issue of young skiers leaving the sport
when forced to completely change the way they ski. “Do you think
they are going to have fun, do you think they are going find the
sport attractive and do you think it’s the way to keep young kinds in
our sport?” asked Cuche.
“Yes we have thought of this,” said Hujara. “We have to find for
younger athletes, special regulations.”
Two-time World Cup overall champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Nor-
way also frequently posed questions to FIS leaders during the
meeting. “This is all very good on computers and on charts but in
reality it’s not working,” he said. “How much are we willing to sacri-
fice speed and the excitement of the sport for safety?”
The researchers also demonstrated in video their belief that the
change will not reduce the excitement of the sport for spectators.
After the research presentation, Miller again took the microphone
to attempt to bring what he saw as the real issues back into focus.
“I want to take a step back from the nitpicking; I think the specific
stuff is a little overwhelming for all of us,” said Miller. “If you want
to make things safer, which has been said over and over again
here — I think we all do, the athletes are concerned with our own
safety; we want to be able to run around with our kids when we get
Miller stated his belief that more effort-demanding skis would
present a whole new set of injury causing problems.
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