FIS should relinquish ski regulation powers to the ski companies.
August 26th, 2011
I hate to sound uncompromising on the new FIS GS radius and length rules after FIS backed off it’s original 40m radius rule to a reduced 35m but the truth is, it is still going to be bad for the sport. Show me and everyone else who will be affected, the data behind these rules and why GS is the target of such drastic changes. FIS says it’s implementing these rules based on studies that the University of Salzburg has been doing, but to my knowledge they have not contact any of the athletes being affected by these changes. Seems like we would be a pertinent resource for such a study, not outsiders.
The biggest issue lies in the negative effect it will have on the younger FIS racers. These kids are not big or strong enough to handle these skis and their parents that are already footing a massive bill for their kids to ski race. They fortunately will not have to deal with these rules for a couple years but it’s headed down the pipeline. This I fear will drive many young skiers out of racing at a greater rate.
Bode Miller has said that FIS should remove itself from equipment issues all together and I agree. If FIS did remove itself, I don’t think much would change at the highest level. There is a point of diminishing return on where we’d push our equipment (height, length, sidecut etc.) and we are not far off from it if there were no rules. A couple of years ago I’ve tested elevated boot height and ski lifter height for the Rockfest dash for cash race and it wasn’t better feeling or faster. I ended up using my normal set up. If the rules were open, everyone could tailor their set up to better fit their body type and style. Small skiers could use shorter skis; skiers with big feet could go a little higher so they didn’t boot out. Currently not all skiers on World Cup use the maximum height allowed because it’s not universally better. If a first year FIS kid is small or lacks physical maturity why shouldn’t they use smaller skis? It will be safer and more fun for them and it’s not an advantage.
If FIS really wants to make racing safe they should focus on their domain, which is hill safety and prep: the biggest area of danger. If you want to do research look into better fencing, expanded crash zones, dangerous course sets, better ways to prep snow conditions so that they are homogeneous throughout the race-hill. The last one seems obvious but 90% of World Cup courses have variable snow conditions throughout the race-hill that do cause injuries.
FIS shouldn’t muddle around in ski equipment regulations. They should let the people who know ski equipment best; the ski companies continue to develop better and more forward thinking equipment with safety as a top priority. Hence why the ski companies were up in arms about the FIS’s regulations. If regulations are needed then the rules should come straight from the ski companies not FIS, since they have a better perspective on the direction of the sport and safety.