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Tyranny of FIS

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter


FIS’s tyranny has gone on long enough. It seems FIS is going out of their way to ruin the sport. FIS runs a dictatorship. They demand absolute control then try to butter their will in a fake cloak of benevolence. Athletes, SRS (Association of Ski Racing Suppliers and NGBs (national governing bodies) are completely impotent in their ability to create positive change in our sport or to stand against rules FIS imposes.


I feel like I might be beating a dead horse on this subject but it is paramount for the future on ski racing. The new rules imposed on ski regulations can’t go through in their current state. They will eventually ruin this sport. As most people already know FIS is imposing new ski regulations that turn back the clock on the evolution of this sport. Giant Slalom has been unfairly targeted. Current rules are >27 meters radius (more sidecut) and minimum length of 185cm, new rules will be >35 meters radius (straight skis from 80’s) and minimum of 195cm. (I currently race on 29-meter radius, 191cm in length skis.) FIS has put together a study that has recorded injuries from 2006-2011. A time frame for which did not allow for any correlations to build between injuries and eras in equipment. We’d need the same info dating back to the early 80’s to see any injury to equipment correlations, not the last 5 years. In FIS’S study they say 36 skiers were “severely” (out for 28 days or longer) injured in downhill, 9 in Super G, 16 in GS and 11 in slalom. They didn’t not take into account that GS is the most skied event, everyone from downhillers to slalom skiers train GS. There are probably 200 GS runs skied for a single downhill run skied and in races there are 2 runs in GS as opposed to one in downhill. Without even doing math it is obvious that the injuries per run in GS are far less then downhill. This begs the obvious question that goes unanswered; why was GS targeted?


On the World Cup it is pretty rare when the vast majority of the athletes agree on anything. The ski regulations, particularly in GS have brought together the athletes like never before 41 out of the top 50 men signed a petition against the rules and in Soelden 15 of the top 20 men in GS (Austrians didn’t come) met to discuss the rules. (It should be noted that only 2 racers have advocated for the rules; Hannes Reichelt and Benjamin Raich along with one Ski Company Amer Sports or also known as Atomic and Salomon.) In which we all opposed the imposed ski regulations and agreed that the ultimate goal was to eliminate FIS from equipment regulation. As athletes we have the greatest incentive to be safe and healthy. We all know how short our careers can be and very few of us are compensated for the risks we take. Therefore, we currently and in the future choose equipment that not only allows us the ability to be fast but to make it to the finish line safely. I have on many occasions chosen skis that were slower but had better control instead of faster and uncontrollable skis. The equipment companies are highly incentivized to keep their athletes healthy as well. They have far more invested in us then FIS and NGBs so they want to protect us as their asset. FIS has shown that they don’t value athletes, as seen in this instance in their complete disregard for our input. FIS’s study was based around 2 on snow sessions with several Europa Cup skiers. Suffice to say that is not nearly enough data to come up with such dramatic conclusions. With just those two tests and with no input from athletes or coaches they pushed the rule though so that there was no opportunity to debate the proposals. The athletes, SRS and the coaches protested and have since proposed a World Cup test where the top 15 athletes would test the new equipment on a World Cup slope but FIS denied this opportunity to evaluation their hypothesis. Proof that FIS has little confidence that their research will hold up under further testing. FIS’s only goal it seems is to look like they are being proactive safety wise though they won’t bare the brunt of the consequences when they don’t work. By making these rules they can say they tried and that may somehow elevate them of any liability.


FIS has already shown their incompetence in coming up with safer rules in the past. In 2007 they made a rule that made the skis wider which made the skis more aggressive which may have led to injuries by extending the lever arm thus putting more force on the knee. The new rules will make the sport more not less dangerous. Not only did FIS’s study say that there was no statistical difference in force between current skis and new skis but they didn’t measure the torque that will be needed to twist the ski around in a clean manner. Thus creating a larger force on one’s knee. The law of unintended consequences will kick in and most likely create more injuries. The latest generation of World Cup racers has never skied on straight skis so these new skis will be completely foreign (less controllable), making them/us get into awkward body positions and ski in a “jumpy” manner so that we can create enough force to turn them. We will also take a straighter line in which we will slide the top of the turn then hit the edge hard, creating a higher peak force (mostly centered around the bottom of the turn where force is highest already), while leaning back to get the radius needed, since the sidecut in the tip will not allow the ski to turn in a forward/centered body position. Outside of the injuries this type of skiing will create by creating a higher sheering force on the knee (commonly associated with ACL tears), it will also cause greater fatigue, which is one of the leading injury causes. The ski industry has produced many studies tracking millions of skier visits over the last 30+ years in which they have found the advent of sidecut has juristically reduced injuries (mainly to the knee). I’m more inclined to believe a study that has tracked millions of skiers over 30+ years then a study in which testing was concluded in 2 days with less then 10 athletes. Injuries happen when the athletes are taken out of their comfort zone and we will not be in our comfort zone with these skis.


So how will this ruin the sport? The new skis will make skiing at the World Cup level less enjoyable to watch and perhaps more importantly far less enjoyable to participate in while making it more dangerous. Arcing clean turns is a joy everyone racing now days can enjoy. That feeling will be gone. First World Cup athletes will suffer this fate then in a couple years when the rules become FIS wide 15 year old kids will have to turn in their “old” carving skis for long straight skis. This will give the big kids an even bigger advantage and will drive kids out of ski racing; into freesking or the copious amount of other sports kids have available to them. Another way it will ruin the sport is the economically side. Ski racing is to ski technology as Formula 1 is to car technology. This new rule will take that away from ski racing since anyone will be able to buy better skis in a store then we race on. Why would ski companies stay in racing if it were no longer driving technology and sales? Ski companies are the main financial supporters of this sport; the athletes make the majority of their income for their ski companies and the amount equipment built for World Cup skiers is astronomical. If the athletes are no longer driving R&D and sales, the companies will eventually pull their support. Most athletes struggle to make a living at this sport already and without the support of the ski companies most won’t be able to afford to continue racing. And there goes the sport of ski racing.


FIS’s tyranny doesn’t just cover ski regulations but all sponsorships too, from the size of your headgear sponsor to the speed suit to the logo on your goggles. I am particularly concerned about the goggle logo issue for the obvious reason that I own a goggle/helmet company; Shred. FIS has long had a rule that the logo on the goggle strap could not be larger than 15 square centimeters. The rule has been ignored for just as long as it’s been around and for good reason, you can’t read a 15 square cm logo on someone travelling at speed and it was never enforced. This fall, out of the blue FIS decided they were going to enforce this rule, for seemingly no reason. Enforcement now is apparently, first a warning followed by not being allowed to start the race on the second offense. Most logos currently are 40-50 square centimeters. There is no point sponsoring a ski racer let alone start a company based around ski racing when one’s logo is too small to be noticeable. This hurts small companies like mine the most since it greatly takes away Shred’s ability to get valuable impressions to break through. Outside of this rule’s enforcement being a bad idea, it was not made known to companies early enough so they could put together the logistics to comply or what will likely happen in the future, decide their marketing budget is better spent else where. Which gets me to the greater point of FIS seemingly trying to drain the pockets of the athletes, since a large portion of athletes’ income is derived from helmet/goggle companies. I would think it would be in the sports, therefore FIS’s best interest to create value for not only FIS’s sponsors but also the sponsors that allow the athletes to compete at a high level.


Not only will FIS not listen to rejections from SRS and NGB’s on the ski regulations and logo issues as a show of complete power. It wants to fine athletes for speaking out against FIS. I was threatened several years ago for wearing a “FIS SUCKS” sticker on the back of my helmet. (I was 2 minutes late to a pre bid draw meeting and forced to start 45 while I was leading the standings hence the sticker.) I was told that a similar action would result in a 5000 CHF fine. Most recently word is that FIS is thinking about suing Jon Olsson for his choice comments he made on his blog about the ski regulations and posting “FIS SUCKS” logo on his site. At the most recent FIS meeting they discussed punishments for athletes speaking out against them. I quote an excerpt from that meeting, “The Council agreed to develop a “Code” to deal with cases of improper behavior that fall outside the competence of the competition jury to augment the existing rules, such as blasphemy on social networking sites or bringing the sport into disrepute.” Who would have thought that being a ski racer you lose your right to free speech.


One would think there would be some discourse to combat these atrocities but there is not at this point. Apparently Bill Marolt; the President of USSA and Vice President of FIS doesn’t even have the ability to bring these subjects up for discussion, let alone reversed or revised. The athletes to this point have had zero representation in the decisions FIS makes. When we hear of FIS’s decisions and we disagree we are ignored as shown in Soelden. Faceless committees make these decisions, and once the mandates are passed down their ego doesn’t allow them to admit wrong and reverse rules that are so obviously wrong. Unfortunately for alpine ski racing FIS monopolizes the sport so any and all changes will be hard fought or take FIS vastly rethinking their position in how the sport processes or more likely regresses. Perhaps it’s time to unionize the athletes or start an alternative tour. (An athlete union is now developing but it remains to be seen how effective it will be.) This should serve as warning for sports like freeride skiing and snowboarding, don’t let FIS monopolize your sport. FIS will bleed your sport dry of what has made it so cool.


Ted Ligety

PS Feel free to repost this anywhere and everywhere.



figured you guys would like to read this.

post #2 of 14

Listen, I like Ted Ligety as much as the next guy and I think the FIS hasn't always done a great job governing its sport. But you have to take it with a grain of salt when someone with so much to lose -- eg, Ligety, the top dog in GS right now under current rules -- gets up on a soapbox at moments like this. 

post #3 of 14



Have a look at this video of Warner Nickerson, who is a darned good racer.  He's skiing on the "new" 40m FIS-legal GS skis.  He looks pretty much like a hack.


I think even Ligety would probably agree to a higher turn radius than what is allowed today, but 40 just seems ridiculous to me.  I think GS will go from being the the sport's most spectacularly-beautiful test of technical skiing to something where the racers are constantly having to bleed speed in the toughest sections just to be able to keep their skis under control.


I'm a supporter of Ted's quest. 


post #4 of 14

Bob there are few things. One is, that 40m rule was before, now it's 35m. Second thing is this video. This is Warner's second run on this skis (first was slipping down the course on inspection). Do you really believe this video shows anything? I would say, they will make run or two more, before they will reach first race, so things will most likely look "a bit" different, then they looked, when they stepped on particular skis for first time in their life ;)

post #5 of 14

Say what you want, but 40m, or 35m for that matter, just isn't going to do anything for the sport. But maybe the Maher's can make a comeback and clean up.

post #6 of 14
Originally Posted by primoz View Post

Bob there are few things. One is, that 40m rule was before, now it's 35m. Second thing is this video. This is Warner's second run on this skis (first was slipping down the course on inspection). Do you really believe this video shows anything? I would say, they will make run or two more, before they will reach first race, so things will most likely look "a bit" different, then they looked, when they stepped on particular skis for first time in their life ;)

I'll grant you that, primoz, but I also believe that the skiers who are best able to judge how "appropriate" these new skis might be are the cream of the crop GS racers.  As I understand it, something along the lines of 25 of the top 30 in the current GS rankings joined a movement at Soelden to petition the FIS to reconsider the change.  It seems to me that guys at that level can make one run on a pair of skis and decide whether they are going to work or not.


Also, it seems a fairly logical conclusion that a move to a longer turn radius ski would overly favor bigger, stronger, heavier skiers.  Wouldn't a heavier skier by definition be able to bend a 35m ski into a tighter arc than a lighter skier?  I realize that's probably already true with the 27m rule, but it seems to me this new rule would favor bigger skiers even more.


post #7 of 14


How bad does someone have to be at GS for you to consider their opinion to be valid?


post #8 of 14

Did we really nee another thread on this?  BWA's first post was linked in the original discussion here

post #9 of 14

The direct effect that stems from this is one thing, but the effect that this will have on the entire race industry is a whole different animal.  There are tons of people who buy FIS GS skis for use outside of the course because of their excellent stability and edge hold (they're FUN).  How FUN are carving skis with a 40m radius going to be????  Also, do we really want recreational skiers racing down the slopes on skis they can't turn (safety issue).  There's so many more reasons that this could potentially be really bad, but I'm with Ligety.  And the NBA players think that they have it bad.......

post #10 of 14

Bob, I think that the video clearly shows that there will be much less clean arc-to-arc skiing with the new skis. It looks surpricingly similair to how von Gruningen and Tomba looked back in the days. However, also a bit like on tight steep sections today. Lets say the steep part in Sölden. The percentage of arced turns will be less in the future. I saw an interview with some young swiz girl and she said that its no big deal. One thing that FIS maybe did not consider and I dont know if it has been mentioned yet but the courses will be wearing out very quickly. I doubt that they can stick to the 30 reverse order consept they have today.

post #11 of 14
Originally Posted by eastskier44 View Post

There are tons of people who buy FIS GS skis for use outside of the course because of their excellent stability and edge hold (they're FUN).  How FUN are carving skis with a 40m radius going to be???? 

Uh, no... since the previous move from 21m to 27m, this is a pretty rare occurrence.  The 21m (and the current 23m womens GS) still fit this category.  The 27m is a whole different animal...  The 40m?  well, i am going to dig out my old P20 race stock...


Edited by ScotsSkier - 11/22/11 at 9:29pm
post #12 of 14

Ok I may have mispoke by saying tons, but I think its safe to say that there is still somewhat of a market, though its not as great as the 21m days, for FIS GS skis.  Furthermore, I think that this will kill the market altogether.

post #13 of 14
Originally Posted by eastskier44 View Post

Ok I may have mispoke by saying tons, but I think its safe to say that there is still somewhat of a market, though its not as great as the 21m days, for FIS GS skis.  Furthermore, I think that this will kill the market altogether.

Agreed, it will finish off what the he 27m started

post #14 of 14

Maybe there will be an upswing in ski sales. Since nobody is going to want to ski on 35-40m GS skis outside serious racing and the WC there will be a new segment of skis with 21-27m turn radius. This ski will be used for club and masters racing and for blasting outside the racing course.

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