Unfortunately, the FIS put itself in a box with
the safety issue. Once the organization broad-
cast that safety was the only priority, the FIS
had to come up with a solution to demonstrate
that they were actually doing something. Since
working to solve the other identified risk fac-
tors would not demonstratively show change
(snow conditions were deemed not possible
to address, as was fatigue — which is primar-
ily brought on by the absurd World Cup travel
schedule), the FIS was left with skis, boots and
bindings. By officials’ own admission, boots
are too complex, and plates are, too. That left
skis as the straw man, and helped ease any
potential insurance liability.
How the FIS initially arrived at the ski conclu-
sion, too, is cloaked in a bit of intrigue. And, it
seems, the deft maneuvering of Austria may
well be the manipulation behind the decision.
While conspiracy theories seldom gain credibil-
ity in fact, consider this. The chair of the safety
committee is Toni Giger, the immediate past
coach of the Austrian men’s team. The head
of the SRS, the ski manufacturers’ group, is
the president of Amer, whose brands includes
Atomic, an Austrian ski company. The names
of testers of the prototypes were withheld, but
it would be a safe bet that more than one Aus-
trian was involved. To hammer the point home,
during the athletes’ meeting with the FIS and
the researchers, Austrian team members and
Atomic athletes were also glaringly absent.
Surprised? Want to bet on which skis are going
to be fast on next year’s World Cup circuit?
As an early editorial in this magazine pointed
out, the FIS answers to no one save its council, whose members have no incentive to think
or look at the effects of this decision. No serious thought has been given to what this does
to junior alpine ski racing. The FIS answer: it
is in committee. And so was the safety issue.
Simple considerations as to what is the cost
in losing kids to sports that use the “cool” skis
— or losing those current young athletes who
simply do not want to learn an outdated technique at the expense of having fun and enjoying racing — don’t seem to have crossed any
FIS official’s mind. Just think of undergoing the
expense of purchasing all new equipment at a
cost of almost $5,000. Not on the FIS radar.
All of the above doesn’t concern the international governing body. If you are going to ski
FIS-sanctioned races you will comply because
that is what the FIS World Cup authorities
have mandated based on dubious research.
Old-fashioned skidding skis are going to be the
factor in next year’s World Cup and shortly everywhere else. If you want to continue to play,
you’d best learn to live with the new shapes.
How sad! — G. B. Jr.
In the Sept. 19, 2011, issue of Ski Racing, we erroneously
reported that New Jersey’s Hidden Valley is now known as
Mountain Creek. Hidden Valley is alive and well.