A surprising revelation from Ted Ligety


Athlete Blog – by Ted Ligety

As anyone who’s read this blog or follows ski racing knows; I am very against the FIS imposed 195cm 35m ski rules for next year. Try as myself and others have to fight FIS’s decree, FIS has stuck to their phony science and held their ground in not being dissuaded by the mass populous of ski racers, parents and knowledge of ski engineering experts (which FIS is not). Since the battle has shown to be futile, I (and Head) have focused on developing skis for next year on which I can win. This week I have been testing the second generation of Head 35m skis, in Hinterreit, and (…drumroll…) I am faster! Significantly faster! HA! Ironic!? (Perhaps even more ironic is the word on the hill is the company behind the rule changes; Atomic, is struggling to make the new skis work).

This poses an interesting scenario, now that I’m faster and theoretically should or would want to race on these FIS deemed “safer” skis, would FIS allow me to use these skis? (They are currently illegal since the they are too narrow). One would think since FIS has been quoted (see quote below*) as saying their decision to change the equipment regulations was at least partially to protect themselves of liability, thus they should allow athletes to use next year’s “safer” equipment if the racer saw fit. Otherwise, are they not liable if they do not allow a racer to ski on the “safest” equipment available and that racer were to get injured. As of now, FIS has stated that next year’s skis are not legal for racing this year. Rules are the rules and at some level I accept that but (me not being a lawyer) does that not open FIS up to liability?

(*Quote from FIS official Bernhard Russi referring to why the ski rules were put in place and FIS’s liability. “We could have said, ‘No, we don’t do anything,’ but then we would have gone against safety,” said Bernhard Russi, a former downhill great from Switzerland who is chairman of the FIS Alpine Committee. “If the scientific people and the experts say, ‘If you want to go in the direction of safety, then you have to do that,’ and if then FIS says, ‘No, we don’t do that,’ then we have a problem. We probably even have a legal problem.”)

Despite being faster on the new skis I still believe that FIS has no place to creating equipment regulations. These rule changes may benefit me but by benefiting me, someone else is losing out. That is unfortunate and unfair. Regulations should not be in place that could in a sense pick winners and losers. It opens the door for the system to be corrupted which ski racing has been. I’m guessing the news of myself and some other racers being faster on the new equipment will displease FIS, and goes to further discredits FIS’s study.

As to how the new skis felt; they for sure do not turn as easy, they lock onto the edge hard, are slightly smoother through small bumps, take more muscling and twisting of the ski (manual pressure as opposed to body position), recoveries are slower, there is less energy out of the turn and are far more tiring to ski on. (It will be difficult for young FIS athletes to safely ski on these skis since they don’t have the size and strength of WC athletes and the difficulty in turning/arcing 35m skis will drain the fun out of racing). It will be interesting to see where the injury numbers go, especially since there haven’t been any injuries in men’s World Cup GS this year.

Ed note: Ted’s blog can be found at www.tedligety.com

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