Interview with Gian Franco Kasper - Part II
Q: With the summer coming to a close, what are some of the changes to look forward to entering the 2013-24 season?
A: There have not been any major changes or modifications to competition format or rules in any of our disciplines following some significant changes in the previous few seasons, so this year the adaptations were of a smaller nature. However, the presentation of the competitions has continued to evolve, especially their coverage on new platforms, which will include more background features and insight into the events, the athletes and the stories which will certainly engage fans.
Q: Looking ahead to the future, what do you see as the biggest challenge and opportunity for FIS?
A: Without a doubt, the biggest challenge is the climate change. We are a unique sport in that our success goes hand in hand with the success of ski resorts and tourism, who are our main stakeholders. It is much easier in this day and age to get on a plane and go the beach where you are guaranteed sand and an ocean. A ski holiday depends a lot on the snow conditions and without good winters, tourism will suffer and so will skiing. It is important that FIS works with our stakeholders to get people engaged in skiing. The leisure skier is very important to FIS, not just the competitive athletes.
Q: You have made it clear that engaging youth is extremely important for snow sports. Are you pleased with the growth of Bring Children to the Snow and the SnowKidz programme?
A: The programme is only in its sixth year, so its results won’t be measurable until we can see if there is a rise in the number of people participating in snow sports in the long term. That being said, we have created a programme that is doing everything possible to reach out the future generation. Success will not happen overnight and FIS is in this for the long haul. The key is to reach out globally and get resorts to act locally, which this programme does a fine job of addressing.
Q: What are your plans for World Snow Day on January 19th, 2013?
A: I am sure to be found skiing. I hope I see everyone else out there on the slopes too!
Q: Looking ahead to the 2015 FIS World Championships, you have Vail-Beaver Creek and Falun hosting Alpine and Nordic, respectively. What are your expectations?
A: They are both fine Organisers who have both hosted the World Championships before and each time they host, they build on their previous experience. I hope in Falun the World Championships can act as a catalyst to build ski jumping development in Sweden. While for Vail, I hope it will continue to help Alpine Skiing gain steady footing in the public eye in America.
Q: What are some of the highlights you’re looking forward to in the upcoming season?
A: Sochi is definitely high on the list where both the traditional Cross-Country Skiing, Ski Jumping Nordic Combined and Alpine Skiing competitions are keenly anticipated, whilst our younger FIS disciplines will showcase new exciting events with Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard slopestyle, as well as ski halfpipe. On the World Cup circuit, the season features many highlights and the new event to look out for is the Nordic Combined Weekend Challenge, taking place in mid-January, which aims to follow in the footsteps of the Tour de Ski in Cross-Country Skiing and the Four Hills event in Ski Jumping. It is sure to be innovative.
Q: Your hometown St. Moritz is set to host the 2017 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. You have seen the city host numerous events, how has skiing evolved since the earlier events?
A: Skiing is a completely different sport, and yet very much the same. Obviously, the advances in equipment and technology have brought our sport to an entirely different level on the Alpine side. But what is more interesting for a town like St. Moritz is to see how the current fitness trend has encouraged the growth of Cross-Country Skiing. Now there are major mass start events like the Engadine Ski Marathon that encourage a lot more participation from the recreational skier. St. Moritz as an Organiser has really emphasized youth and the future of skiing, which is a great focus not only for the 2017 World Championships, but also for benefit of tourism in the region.