On the eve of the 12th edition of the FIS Tour de Ski, Pierre Mignerey, Cross-Country Race Director, shared his insights on the discipline’s future developments.
What’s new at the Tour de Ski this season?
An Olympic season is generally not the time for big changes so the 2017/18 Tour de Ski will be rather traditional with experienced Organisers and a race programme based on our most popular and spectacular race formats. We are expecting a very exciting Tour de Ski until the decisive battle on the traditional final climb at Alpe Cermis.
How are TV ratings looking for the Tour and for the World Cup in general?
We will only have a complete overview at the end of the season but first feedback is positive. I believe that we have had interesting races so far with many nations represented in the top 15, the emergence of the new Cross-Country star Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo (NOR) and the comeback of Charlotte Kalla (SWE).
What is the biggest challenge Cross-Country Skiing is facing?
Like all other sports, Cross-Country Skiing needs to adapt to a changing world. Climate change, technology, media, consumer habits, competition with other sports, fans’ expectations and sponsors’ expectations are in constant evolution and it is crucial for us to adapt our rules, race formats and structure if Cross-Country Skiing wants to remain a major winter sport.
There is lots of discussion about changing competition formats in the near future. Could you tell us a bit more?
We have been discussing race formats for a few years. Now, the time has come to make concrete decisions. At the moment, there is a proposal on the table as a basis for future discussion. We will use the second half of the winter for further evaluation and discussions with all the stakeholders in order to be ready for decisions at the next FIS Congress in May 2018.
What are the key goals for the future and when will these be implemented?
There will be no revolution. Our goal is to streamline and simplify our race programme. We aim to use our traditions as a basis and make Cross-Country Skiing as attractive as possible for our fans and viewers as well as for young skiers.
We are convinced that Cross-Country Skiing must be easy to understand for the largest possible audience. In order to do that we will probably remove some formats or race distances from the current programme. This is definitely not easy, and the implementation of these changes will need a few years.
How do preparations look for PyeongChang 2018 and what is the latest news from there?
PyeongChang is ready. Our Technical Delegate Jussi Prykaeri was on site last week and was very satisfied with the status of preparations. The snow production is almost complete and the Organising Committee is in the very final stages of preparations from the sports side.
Any final word?
This is a good moment to still wish Merry Christmas and a successful 2018 winter season to all ski fans.