FIS Chief Race Directors for alpine skiing Atle Skaardal and Guenter Hujara took a moment to evaluate this past season and look forward to 2013-14.
FIS: Looking back, what is your overall evaluation of the past 2012-13 season?
Atle Skaardal: Overall, on the ladies, side, it was a very variable winter in terms of weather which caused us a lot of work. We had all the extremes with fog, wind, snow, rain and you name it. In the end, however, all went really well until we unfortunately lost two races at the Finals. Before that last week, no races had been lost since the only cancellation had been successfully rescheduled.
Guenter Hujara: On the men’s side, too, we had a great season. As we arrived in Lenzerheide we had lost no races at all, but then unfortunately two races were cancelled due to difficult weather. Such a level of delivery is only possible thanks to a great cooperation with all the Organizers, the ski industry, the teams, athletes and all our partners. From this basis, it is easy to build for the future and we are currently already working at a very detailed level with our Organizers to prepare for the upcoming Olympic season.
FIS: What was your season highlight?
Skaardal: For me, the World Championships in Schladming were the best ones ever. It was a truly amazing happening where both the event and sports sides worked well, where everyone from the Local Organizing Committee to the Austrian Ski Association and FIS worked together, and where the public interest reached unforeseen levels. On the ladies’ side we did however start with a very difficult super-G and had a few scheduling discussions, all of which we will analyze and draw our lessons from to best prepare for Vail-Beaver Creek 2015.
Hujara: Of course each event is a certain highlight, but I have to say that Schladming 2013 truly set a new milestone. It was an event at a completely different level in terms of spectator interest, sport presentation, TV production and much more. In every area, the level of investment topped what we have experienced previously, for example in the construction of the finish area and the extent of detail in the TV production. Of course Austria is the cradle of Alpine Skiing but the 2013 Championships will now serve as a showcase for future events for many years to come.
FIS: What’s in store for next season?
Hujara: There is no doubt that the focus all of next season will be on the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. The teams are currently working on optimizing the finest details both en route to the Games and especially on site at Rosa Khutor. We too have been working closely with the organizing team in Sochi to ensure we are ready for all eventualities, especially in terms of weather. Many details have already been discussed and I feel we are well prepared.
Skaardal: One of the current tasks is to evaluate the impact of the ski material changes this past season and we still need the detailed statistics to do proper analysis in terms of injuries. Our gut feeling is good and that there were lot of positive aspects to the change, but we have yet to see the numbers. Now we continue to prepare for the changes to take effect at the COC and FIS levels as planned. There is also other ongoing work to prevent injuries, much of it on a detailed level. And next season will see the implementation of the new helmet rules, which seem to be a very good a step forward to protect a very vulnerable part of the body better.