Snowboard season review with Uwe Beier
FIS Snowboard Race Director Uwe Beier took a moment to reflect on the past winter including the debut of Snowboard slopestyle at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games, and look ahead to the future.
What’s your general evaluation of the 2013/14 season?
We had fewer competitions as in previous years with most events taking place in the lead-up to the 2014 Olympics. Naturally, the Olympics were the season highlight and the main focus was on the weeks prior to the Games with a lot of pressure for all athletes to qualify.
We are very happy to have provided high-quality events during this important phase. Thanks to many well-experienced Organisers, we were able to host some fantastic World Cup competitions in amazing locations.
In addition, the season featured exciting battles for the World Cup titles and globes.
The alpine snowboard events definitely had a thrilling season, with very good TV numbers and great competitions thanks to a number of young guns taking centre stage.
The snowboard cross tour also benefited from new faces and a fantastic promotion of the sport during the Games. The Olympics were a huge success and definitely an important milestone. The TV exposure was impressive at both the Olympics and during the World Cup. The new hosting sites at Vallnord (AND) and Lake Louise (CAN) proved to be good additions to the calendar with highly motivated teams, and well planned and designed courses.
How would you rate the Olympic debut of snowboard slopestyle?
It was fantastic.. We were lucky with the sunny weather, the course was well-shaped and the conditions were perfect. The athletes were given the best opportunity to display their amazing skills to a global audience.
Needless to say, there was huge interest and a lot of pressure on the Sochi Organisers to guarantee a great introduction to the Olympic programme.
There are a lot of stories I could tell from planning, preparing and guaranteeing major events like the Olympics, especially at a venue where it is difficult to build up event experience over several years. Slopestyle has never been run at this venue before. I am very proud about the outcome and what the entire team of Organisers, hundreds of volunteers, the Russian Federation and FIS delivered together.
After the Olympic season, what are the major topics on the agenda for the future?
It is the beginning of a new Olympic cycle. We are currently in the process of reviewing the past four years including all details leading to Sochi 2014 and designing a plan for the lead-up to PyoengChang 2018. Our different Advisory Groups are reviewing what adjustments can be made and best practices that can be implemented. There are always things to improve.
In general, we are aiming to guarantee a consistent high level of our venues for the slopestyle, halfpipe and big air events. In addition, we are working on improving the marketing, promotion and communication of these competitions.
Meanwhile, we are analyzing the way we highlight and transport all key elements of our sport, the fun and the performance of the athletes including formats, more transparent judging for the viewers, TV graphics, etc.
We are continuing the cooperation with other important events, including co-sanctioned competitions, and are reviewing the potential use of a joint points list. In order to achieve our goal of staging high-level events with the world's best athletes, it is important for us to work together with the nations, teams and athletes.
Regarding alpine snowboarding, more events will be added to the calendar after a few were left out during the Olympic season. We would also like to introduce a parallel team event to the World Cup programme.
Concerning snowboard cross, several nations have submitted a proposal to integrate the snowboard cross team event and big air into the Olympic programme. This will be a topic on the agenda for the upcoming meetings in Barcelona.
Finally, we are working on the joint events with Freestyle Skiing. It is a key strategy for the upcoming years to use synergies, including sharing venues, work, costs, promotion, and much more.
The highlight of the next winter will be the World Championships in Kreischberg. What can we look forward to?
This will be the first ever combined FIS World Championships of Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding, representing a new area of World Championships. For 2017, Sierra Nevada (SPA) is already preparing the second-ever combined World Championships.
We are happy to have a well-experienced Organiser aboard. Kreischberg 2015 is not only looking back on many years of World Cup events in both, Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding, but also on very successful FIS Snowboard World Championships in 2003.
Currently, the planning is in full swing and we will do everything possible to provide high-level and safe courses which will enable the athletes to perform at their best.
Any final words...
I would like to thank everyone who helped run successful events last season, including Organisers, motivated volunteers, FIS Officials, Technical Delegates and Judges, long-term partner companies such as Swiss Timing, Liski, Zaugg, ASS, TV partners, all snowboard teams and of course all the athletes.
I know that the list is never complete but it was another season of great teamwork and high motivation. We can look very positively into the future of our great sport.