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Black Diamond: Review of Worlds called for

How could the FIS allow the women’s super G to become a travesty at their most important event, the alpine World Championships, one that they own and control?  Yes, alpine skiing is an outdoor sport, subject to the vagaries of weather. But need schedules, television demands, or organizer pressures overly influence it. All of the above played a role in the ill fated decision to start the ladies super G at 2:30 p.m. after literally hours of fifteen minute delays, 12 to 13 of them depending who you ask.

What in the world was the FIS thinking when it went to fifteen-minute delays? Think about the first seed athletes, particularly the first five. It is way too short a time for the early racers to even relax, let alone take their boots off. Three hours of quarter hour holds is down right ludicrous. How does any athlete keep their race concentration after hearing for the ninth to thirteenth time that there is yet another – yes, fifteen minute hold.

The FIS needs to firmly establish a thought out procedure for weather delays. Which is fair to the athletes.  Sport and the athletes must be considered first. Neither television, the major revenue producer, nor the event organizers should be allowed to influence on hill decisions.  The FIS will be far better served by putting firm, fair weather guidelines in place.

One thought: if there is need for a weather delay, fix the time, say an hour and set an end time. For instance the latest time a race can start is, say, 2 pm otherwise it is postponed.  This would give the race director three times to get the race off and give the athletes the opportunity to truly relax and then refocus.

Speaking of postponements, the FIS review the new tighter schedule for World Championships.  Is there really enough days to cram in all the events and training needed. Here in Schladming, the answer was no especially if you listen to the coaches. The men had to run downhill with only one full-length training run.  Because of the singular finish where men’s and women’s tracks merged, the men were forced to take two partial runs, one on the top half and one on the bottom half…The second on race day of all bizarre scheduling.

Where was the planning?

One thing to consider: it is the U.S. turn next and should the schedule remain the same, Vail Beaver Creek 2015 will have the same difficulty as they too will have one finish stadium. Why not add back an extra day and allow for both the reality and contingencies. Yes, according to the 2015 organizers, the FIS plans the World Championship competition. The Vail Beaver creek folk’s best stay alert to make sure the same inane miss scheduling does not occur two years hence. After all, as we learned here, the schedule problem was the fault of the organizers despite the fact the FIS made up the competition schedule for Schladming. But then again, Ski Racing has known for four decades that the FIS never admits errors.

G. B. Jr.

 

Gary Black

Managing Partner

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