Ryan Blais (CAN) is the male Freestyle Skiing representative on the FIS Athletes’ Commission. He debuted on the Freestyle FIS World Cup tour in January 1999 and has 40 World Cup starts including 7 World Cup podium finishes in his palmarès. The Grand Prairie (AB) native is currently in training for a winning performance at his home country Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in February 2010.
FIS Newsflash: As a newly-elected member of the FIS Athletes' Commission, what are your goals in this role?
Ryan Blais: Generally speaking, I've never liked to criticize the efforts of the people in charge! I certainly didn't run for the position of Athlete Rep for this reason and I don't have a specific agenda to take forward. I simply have one major goal: Drastically increase the level of communication & transparency between FIS and the Athlete Reps and to find unique ways to actively engage FIS athletes. The creation of www.DemocraSki.com, which is a niche social network for FIS athletes, was the first step towards the realization of this goal.
FIS Newsflash: What do you hope to achieve with the creation of www.DemocraSki.com?
Ryan Blais: I wanted to create a centralized "online platform" that would aid the Athletes’ Commission in self-organizing itself and engaging all FIS members. I've taken advantage of numerous new technologies, services and platforms and have heavily integrated "Social Media" features to encourage transparency and allow important messages, ideas and projects to go "viral" within the FIS community. These new tools will break down barriers that have previously resulted in athletes feeling left in the dark!
FIS Newsflash: What was your first impression from the Athletes' Commission meeting and the FIS Committee Meetings?
Ryan Blais: I had mixed feelings about the meetings in Croatia. At first I was pleased to find out that ALL 12 Athlete Reps were there, eager to get started. Once in the meeting, it became clear, however, that our Commission is really breaking new ground! There really wasn't any set structure, mandate, terms of reference or much to push us in any direction. Where do we start? What's important to the athletes and what, if anything, can we do about it? It became very clear to me: our Commission has a responsibility to define its own structure, roles, and direction. Our group must be aware that we have the opportunity to set precedence for what can and should be expected from the Athletes’ Commission and how effective we can be at engaging FIS and keeping it athlete-centered.
FIS Newsflash: Besides your work for the Athletes' Commission, what will do you this summer to prepare for the Olympic season?
Ryan Blais: I am currently in full-time training (just like the other 11 Athlete Reps) and have committed myself to the fact that training must come first. For me this is very important; so much so that I suggested the following be included in the FIS Athlete Commission Mandate: "Although the role and responsibilities of the Athletes’ Commission are of utmost importance to its Athlete Representatives, we recognize that in order for membership on the Athletes’ Commission to remain viable in the long term it must not jeopardize an Athlete’s performance potential." So, I have dedicated myself to training which currently entails long days at the "Water Ramps" in Quebec City as well as trampoline sessions and workouts in the gym. Summer on the ramps is our most intensive training phase and represents our final chance to prepare for the Olympic season. I will be training in Quebec until the beginning of October! You can see my training facility here.