The members of the FIS Athletes’ Commission 2017-2019 were elected by the athletes at the 2017 FIS World Championships and the newly-elected Commission recently held its first meeting.
FIS sat down with the Alpine representatives Daniela Merighetti (ITA) and Hannes Reichelt (AUT) to talk about their roles.
What motivated you to join the Commission in 2015 and to stand for re-election this year?
Daniela: I decided to join the Commission in 2015 because I felt like an “expert” with the experience I have. I started racing on the World Cup in 2000 and joined the Commission with the goal to improve a number of areas in the Alpine World Cup. In these two years I have learned a lot about the FIS organisation which was very interesting. I retired from competitive skiing last year. Now, I have more time and feel I can do a great job.
Hannes: In 2015, I decided to run for the Athletes’ Commission with the same goal as Daniela, to improve a number of items in the Alpine World Cup. I realised that two years are too short of a timeframe to do so. It takes up to four to six years to really make a difference. So I put my name forward for re-election this winter.
What are your main areas of focus in Alpine Skiing?
Hannes: We are working on a number of issues including safety, the balance of races between technical and speed events, increasing prize money and marketing opportunities for athletes. Additionally, we are providing important input when rules, regulations and formats are adjusted, most recently on the new ski radius in giant slalom and the new starting order in speed events.
Daniela: Besides these topics, we are working on improving communication between FIS and athletes and vice-versa with our main goal to make the athletes understand FIS decisions and clarify questions and misunderstandings.
What do you enjoy most about being a member of the Athletes' Commission?
Daniela: Being a member of the Commission makes me very proud. I am the athletes’ voice which is a great commitment. The atmosphere is great within the Commission and I enjoy the team. The members are very smart and I enjoy sharing opinions with athletes of different disciplines. There are many things to learn from each other.
Hannes, besides your work in the Athletes' Commission what are you doing this summer to be prepared for the Olympic season?
After my back surgery last fall, I have had to catch up on my physical shape and I am using this summer to work hard and train well in order to be in the same shape as I was before.
Daniela, you retired from competitive skiing last year. What are you doing now?
I was in the custom military group (guardia di finanza) as an athlete and I stayed with them when I retired. Since January this year, I have been working for the customs at my place (Brescia) as Secretary for a General Attorney. This is very different from what I did in the past but I really like it and I am learning a lot. I am in a different world and this is very challenging.
This winter I was also a commentator for some Alpine World Cup races for Eurosport Italia and worked a little for Infront Sports & Media. I tried to be a journalist, editing a magazine for them. I had a lot of fun and this gives me the opportunity to stay in the white circus and exchange opinions with the athletes which is very important for my role in the Athletes’ Commission.
What kind of message would you like to pass on to your fellow athletes as their representative within FIS?
Daniela: I keep telling the athletes: I'm your voice, and you have the great opportunity to say what you want. Okay, we're not here to do anything brand new. But we're here to improve and to bring the sport to a higher level. Together we can do a lot, which alone, we can’t.
Hannes: In addition to what Daniela says, I would like to encourage the alpine athletes to please answer our survey which we send them every year. If we have a response rate of 70-80% it will give us a strong voice in the Alpine Committee discussions and ultimately, it will make it easier to bring forward proposals.