Why does alpine racing always react after the fact?  Do we have to have a racer tragically lose a leg to confront safety issues head on.  
    The outcome of the terrible accident suffered by Matthias Lanzinger may not have changed with or without a medevac chopper.  However, one should have been there!
    Over the years, alpine racing has improved on-hill safety. Nets have been enhanced. Fencing setups have to meet standards and slip screens are added to net bottoms in many areas of race courses. Officials have scrutinized equipment and required manufacturers to change sidecuts. Unfortunately many of the improvements have been spurred by tragedies. 
WHY DOES ALPINE racing always react after the fact?  Do we have to have a racer tragically lose a leg to confront safety issues head on.  
    The outcome of the terrible accident suffered by Matthias Lanzinger may not have changed with or without a medevac chopper.  However, one should have been there!
    Over the years, alpine racing has improved on-hill safety. Nets have been enhanced. Fencing setups have to meet standards and slip screens are added to net bottoms in many areas of race courses. Officials have scrutinized equipment and required manufacturers to change sidecuts.
    Unfortunately many of the improvements have been spurred by tragedies. Gernot Reinstadler lost his life when his ski tip hooked in the safety netting virtually tearing him apart. FIS officials began looking at skis, their speed and sidecuts after Ulrike Maier spun off the course in a spot where accidents rarely occurred and broke her neck.
    Obviously there has been a stunned reaction from both the Austrian Federation and the FIS.
    The Austrian chancellor, Alfred Gusenbauer, fanned the fire by saying, “The lacking safety measures at the race are shocking. I cannot comprehend how a World Cup race can be organized on such a low safety level.”
    FIS President Gian Franco Kasper, reacting to perhaps unjust criticism, said that the FIS would, “complete this year, as every year, a season analysis to understand why there are so many injuries.”
    This season Aksel Lund Svindal, last year’s overall winner, was lost for the season after an accident at Beaver Creek. While Svindal’s injury was caused by a ski edge, the U.S. Ski Team’s Resi Stiegler fractured an arm and a leg when she slid under a barrier that was intended to stop a falling racer.
    While the FIS gets most of the blame in the Austrian press, it is the national federations that must bear the brunt of the responsibility. Far too often they resist change, particularly change dictated from the international governing body. One only has to chart the reluctance of Kitzbühel’s updates to safety on the Streif course to see how organizers react to imposing standards.
    It need not be that way. Ultimately the FIS is in a strong position to dictate safety standards, though FIS officials might contend otherwise. By taking a proactive position, similar to the one he has on doping, Mr. Kasper can provoke change. He should!
    Among the options he should consider are mandating safety requirements as defined by the FIS professionals, coaches, the medical committee and any experts he chooses to use. There should be a FIS-appointed and funded safety expert on every circuit to evaluate whether emergency medical personnel, evacuation plans, mechanisms and neighboring hospitals are up to predetermined standards. Organizers would have to meet FIS standards or the host federation would not be awarded an event.
    In auto racing, the open-wheel circuits have been very proactive in mandating safety. NASCAR, however, has operated in a fashion similar to the FIS-federation relationship, leaving much safety up to drivers and teams. Laissez-faire has not worked well for either the FIS or NASCAR. NASCAR is looking at mandating safety rules. The FIS should do no less.