Chat with the FIS Race Directors: Uwe Beier
The FIS Snowboard World Cup resumed action in the Northern Hemisphere after a long break since the Season Opener in New Zealand at the end of August. FIS Snowboard Race Director Uwe Beier shared his insights on the 2013/2014 season.
You just concluded an enthralling Snowboard Cross World Cup weekend at Austria’s Montafon. How does it feel to be back in World Cup mode?
It's great that the season is in full swing now, especially with such impressive events in Montafon, which had thousands of enthusiastic spectators. It's good to be back on snow and to see all the riders being super motivated and well prepared going into the Olympic season.
The snowboard cross races were perfectly run by the Local Organisers with the entire region getting involved. I'm looking forward to many more contests of such high level this Olympic winter, although this one will be hard to beat.
Talking about the Olympics, the schedule until Sochi is packed.
That's right we have a lot of events in the upcoming weeks with several overlapping weekends consisting of different events.
Also January will include a compact series of high-class events all over the world in the lead-up to the Olympic Winter Games. Until the second half of January, all World Cup events will allow riders to qualify for the Games and we will definitely see the best of the best competing in Sochi.
How many competitions will you run in total?
We have an extensive schedule with a total of 45 competitions hosted by 15 resorts, with most contests taking place within the Olympic qualifier period until 19th January 2014. This season's pinnacle is definitely the Olympics.
During the season, we will once again cover the whole range of competitive snowboarding with freestyle snowboarding contests in top terrain parks, in outstanding superpipes or one on a huge ramp currently built right in the centre of Quebec City (CAN), the host of the last official qualifier World Cup for Sochi. If riders haven’t secured their Olympic tickets yet, it has to be done until Quebec.
In addition, the snowboard cross tour again consists of individual races and team events on purpose-built courses full of freestyle-based features demanding the entire range of snowboarding skills.
Last but not least, the alpine snowboarding World Cup will also feature the world's elite race boarders with the season starting this weekend in Carezza (ITA). January will see the most crowded parallel racing calendar with three World Cup competitions in one week where we expect thousands of spectators along the courses.
Weather and snow-wise, we have had luck compared to the previous seasons. The host resorts have reported fresh snow and have piled huge amounts of artificial snow to ensure a high level execution of the competitions.
How does it look like TV-wise?
We have had impressively increasing numbers in broadcasting, including some of the world's biggest stations. Our partner Infront Sports & Media is doing an amazing job promoting our sport.
The huge interest of TV viewers is the best proof that we are on the right path and that our decisions, such as the implementation of a Team SBX World Cup ranking list, are not only appreciated by athletes and teams, , but also by the media.
Are there any other changes or new important rules?
Only minor adjustments were made for this season but we have many ideas for the future which we will work on starting next season. We didn't want to implement changes in the lead up to Olympic Winter Games.
The Sochi Olympic Winter Games will be your first Olympics as FIS Race Director, how are you feeling with less than two months to go until the first snowboard events?
If I was not a little nervous thinking about the Olympics, something would be wrong. No matter if you are a competitor or working on the organisational side, it’s a unique and fascinating event which not only has an unbelievable reach, but definitely always creates a unique spirit..
It will be my fourth Olympic Winter Games with Salt Lake City and Torino as a coach, Vancouver as the Assistant Race Director and now Sochi as FIS Race Director.
I have gained different perspectives around the Olympics, which are very valuable. I feel prepared for this task and we have a very strong team for Sochi. The Local Organisers, together with the Russian Federation, are highly motivated and have recruited hundreds of volunteers. FIS is also bringing top expert officials including the Technical Delegates, Technical Advisors and Judges, not to mention the administrative staff.
How does Sochi look in terms of the snowboard competitions?
There are a few last, but minor, organisational issues to be finalised, but in principle everything is ready to go. The venues have been developed over the past years to provide the most impressive slopes, courses and terrain parks.
I just received a picture a couple of days ago showing lots of fresh snow. It looks very promising.