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Recap of the autumn 2021 Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski Committee meetings

Last week saw FIS’s annual autumn Technical Committee Meetings take place, once again in a series of online gatherings as necessitated by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Included in this series of forums were meetings of the subcommittees for Park & Pipe, Freestyle (formerly Moguls & Aerials), Snowboard Cross & Alpine Ski Cross (formerly grouped together as Cross), and Snowboard Alpine, with the week capped off on Friday by the large Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski Committee Meeting.

With the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games rapidly approaching, major proposals and decisions were generally deferred until the 2022 International Ski Congress slated to take place in Vilamoura (POR) from 22-25 May, 2022. There were, however, some notable developments in all subcommittee meetings, and we’ve collected the highlights here.

General

  • Covid-19 health & safety measures will remain in place in a similar structure to the 2020/21 season, though those measures will be refined and adapted as per the latest science. Widespread vaccination amongst all World Cup participants and stakeholders will also shape some of the measures set to be in place for the 2021/22 season. The experience and knowledge gained from last season’s successful implementation of measures sets us up in a  positive position for the upcoming season.
  • The long discussed fluor wax ban is finally in place by law. The EU regulation 2019/1021 (POP regulation”) and EC regulation No. 1907/2006 (REACH”) prohibits production, trade and use of certain fluorinated waxes containing C8/PFOA. These regulations fully apply from season 2021/2022 onwards.
  • Improvements in television presentation was a common theme throughout last week’s meetings, and the relevant stakeholders will be discussing this in more detail beginning in the spring
  • All parties took the time to recognise the contributions to our sports by the late Gian Franco Kasper, FIS President for 23 years up until his retirement at the end of last season, who passed away on 9 July, 2021.
     

Freeski and Snowboard Park & Pipe

  • 2021/22 World Cup calendar is looking solid. Freeski will see four halfpipe, six slopestyle and two big air competitions, while for Snowboard there will be three halfpipe, six slopestyle and two big air World Cup events. Beijing 2022 OWG competition will include halfpipe, slopestyle and big air for both Freeski and Snowboard.
  • FIS’s partnership with the World Snowboard Federation was finally ratified at the WSF’s general assembly in September by an encouraging and decisive majority. The World Snowboard Points List will continue to exist as-is, with no changes to the ranking formulas and/or event points values for the definitive ranking system for halfpipe, slopestyle and big air riders.
  • The Park & Pipe Classification Advisory Group had previously and provisionally accepted 5 additional members, nominated by WSF, pending the confirmation of the WSF-FIS agreement. As an Advisory Group these are identified individual experts in the sport and their knowledge and expertise will bring additional value to the CLAG and its future work.
  • With Chris Witwiki (CAN) stepping down as Chair of the CLAG, Julie Stegall (CAN) will assume the Chair responsibilities and Lesley McKenna (GBR) shall become Vice Chair.
  • As we move into the 2022-2026 Olympic quad it will provide an opportunity to continue to focus on improving the processes, standards, and protocols in all areas of these sports, including ensuring the long term stability of our judges programs and appropriate support for the judges. 
  • Finally, the Park & Pipe Committee looks forward to supporting however possible the broader FIS efforts around developing strategic plans and maximizing the opportunities for these sports.
     

Freestyle

  • The 2021 autumn meetings mark the first time that this subcommittee has met under the “Freestyle” moniker after the past several years of being known as “Moguls & Aerials,” a name change that pays respect to the position of moguls and aerials as the original events within the SB/FS/FK Committee.
  • 2021/22 World Cup calendar will feature 10 moguls, five dual moguls, nine aerials, and three aerials mixed team competitions. The Beijing 2022 OWG will feature competition in moguls and aerials.
  • 2021/22 will be the first World Cup season in which women’s and men’s dual moguls crystal globes will be awarded, along with the already existing moguls and overall crystal globe award structure.
  • Having dual moguls added to the Olympic programme remains a top priority for this subcommittee.
  • Development of video and remote judging capabilities and the technologies required to do so in top-tier and efficient manner continues. Covid has accelerated the need to implement creative ways to judge our events, as well as to develop specially educated judges and TDs. Several events used remote judging this past year and this is being further developed as we gain more experience and technology improves and gets cheaper.
  • An improved, knowledgeable and engaging presentation of Freestyle events in the media is of interest to all stakeholders.
     

Snowboard Alpine

  • The 2021/22 snowboard alpine World Cup will feature six parallel giant slalom, five parallel slalom, five PSL team, and one PGS team competitions.
  • Snowboard alpine remains one of the steadiest and most dependable of all FIS events, with well-established organisers and a high competition success rate.
  • Top priority in last week’s meetings was given to adding more SB Alpine events at the biggest competitions. Mixed team competition is set to make its World Championships debut at Bakuriani (GEO) 2023, and at the 2022 FIS Congress there will be a proposal to add the event to the programme for the Milan/Cortina 2026 Olympic Winter Games.
  • As with Freestyle, members of the SB Alpine Committee expressed the desire to improve the presentation and reach of the televised competition programme. 
     

Snowboard Cross/Alpine Ski Cross

  • The 2021/22 Snowboard Cross World Cup will feature eight standard format races and two mixed team competitions
  • The 2021/22 Audi FIS Alpine Ski Cross World Cup will feature 14 standard format races and one mixed team competition
  • The season will open in November with an extremely important Beijing 2022 Olympic test event in China
  • Ski cross is now officially in the transition phase to go from the Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski umbrella to the one of Alpine Skiing, meaning that from now on it will be called “Alpine Ski Cross” and subject to a 5 to 7-year vision plan. However a tight collaboration between ski and snowboard cross still remains, as there are still some uncertainties in place and a lot of work needs to be done to diverge the two events:
  • The rule books for both sports are still a work in progress. Rule change proposals may affect both sports. Ski cross rules for now must be maintained in the Freestyle Freestyle Ski and Snowboard system. ICRs will definitely not go into the Alpine system entirely.
  • FIS Points system needs to be adapted, there is currently a working group working on this matter.
  • IT-system needs to be adapted in a logical way and is also still a work in process with the goal to have one licence for Alpine Ski and Alpine Ski Cross.
  • At major events ski and snowboard cross will remain together for now and use the same course.
  • There is only one additional proposal on the ski cross side and that is to include the ski cross mixed team event as an additional competition format option to the World Championships program. It was agreed that this proposal will be brought forward to the respective next steps.
 
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