Snowboard, Freestyle, and Freeski committee concludes meetings in Zurich
Zurich (SUI) - The annual FIS technical committee meetings took place this past week in Switzerland at the Hilton Zurich Airport, with committee members, national snowsports association representatives, technical delegates, judges, builders, and other invested individuals from around the world gathered to talk all things snowboarding and skiing.
For FIS Snowboard, this year’s session was the second to be held under the umbrella of what has come to be dubbed the ‘Supercommittee’ - the FIS Snowboard, Freestyle, and Freeski Committee. And, with the 2018 meetings coming on the heels of a PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games that saw the majority of the Snowboard, Freestyle, and Freeski competitions to be among the most-watched of the Games by any metric, a sense of promise and positivity was felt throughout the week.
With shared subcommittees for ski and snowboard Cross and ski and snowboard Park and Pipe, as well as the Alpine snowboard subcommittee, all meeting earlier in the week, the Supercommittee convened on Friday to go through all of the week’s developments and proposals.
Committee Chairman Dean Gosper opened proceedings with a discussion on the amalgamation of FIS Snowboard and the World Snowboard Federation. Acknowledging that the WSF’s points list has long be recognized as the most authoritative, Gosper detailed the harmonization and unification of the two bodies’ calendars and sanctioning in a move recognized by both FIS and WSF to be good for the sport ahead of what is good from the two organizations. With a focus on transparency and sustainability, the sole custodianship of the international snowboarding points list will now be in the hands of FIS.
Following Gosper, Vice-Chairman Jeremy Forster (USA) presented the Park and Pipe report, reemphasized the importance of the amalgamation of the FIS and WSF points list and rankings while also explaining that for the future the focus shifts to the Freeski side of things, where improving the visibility of the term “Freeski” in FIS branding and marketing and a closer partnership with the Association of Freeski Professionals (AFP) are critical moving forward.
Vice-Chairman Remi Sella (FRA), with comments from Cross race director Jean-Pierre Baralo, followed Forster with the Cross report. Much of the work done on the Cross events over the summer focused on improvements in safety on both the ski and snowboard sides, in response to the high rate of athlete competition time missed due to injury over the past seasons and a handful of high-profile crashes at the OWG in Korea. As well, Sella commented on FIS’ redoubled efforts to harmonize the snowboard and ski cross rulebooks, stating that the entirety of both sets of rules would be analyzed in the coming months by the SB and FS cross working groups under the guidance of the Cross Vision 2022 advisory group.
In his Moguls and Aerials report, Vice-Chairman Walt Hiltner (AUS), along with FIS Freestyle Skiing coordinator Joe Fitzgerald, cited the exceptionally strong TV numbers for PyeongChang 2018 moguls and aerials competitions as positive signs for the future, stating that, while improvements in competition will always be explored, the current product continues to be one with broad appeal and a strong fan base. Also noted was the exploration of new judging-aid technologies such as those seen in gymnastics.
The final subcommittee report of the afternoon went to Vice-Chairman Cesare Pisoni (ITA), along with Snowboard race director Uwe Beier, on developments in Alpine snowboarding. Pointing out Alpine snowboard is certifiably the most gender-equal of all FIS World Cup competitions, Pisoni signalled this, an increasingly steady competition calendar, and strong TV numbers at the Games (despite a difficult time slot) as signs that Alpine continues to hold an important place in the world of snow sports. With the establishment this season of a European junior tour, and an ever-increasing commitment to improving the quality of competitions in all FIS-sanctioned events, the future looks good for the Alpine snowboard World Cup.
Beier, Fitzgerald, Barolo, and Park & Pipe contest director Roberto Moresi all stood for brief presentations following the subcommittee reports, reinforcing many of the points listed above with an eye on functionality and the futures of their respective events.
Wrapping things on Friday up was a series of presentations from the organizing committees of the upcoming major events, with the Utah 2019, Zhangjiakou 2021, and Bakuriani 2023 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships, Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, and Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games committees all outlining exciting projects in various stages of development. As expected, the most exciting was also the first to be coming up on the horizon, with all the pieces in place to make the Utah 2019 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle, and Freeski World Championships to premier snow sports event of the 2018/19 season.