Interview with FIS Development Programme Consultant Josef Zenhäusern

FIS took the opportunity to sit down with Josef Zenhäusern, FIS Development Programme Consultant since 2001, to get an insight into the programme, which is designed to provide developing skiing nations with support to develop the sport in their countries.

How many nations are currently benefitting from the FIS Development Programme?

A total of 38 National Ski Associations are currently receiving support for the development of skiing and snowboarding. The funds are generated through the registration fees paid by Candidates for the FIS World Championships and the contribution from the FIS Special Distribution.

What does the programme consist of?

Besides modest direct financial support to the FIS Development Programme Member Associations, it offers the following projects and activities:

  • Training

The Organisers of the FIS World Championships provide free training days. In the past season, St. Moritz (SUI) provided 600 for Alpine, Lahti (FIN) 600 for the Nordic disciplines and Sierra Nevada (ESP) 400 for Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard.

There is also a series of training camps underway year round to help prepare athletes from the FDP Member nations for the upcoming season. One is currently taking place in El Colorado (CHI) for Alpine Skiing and another one has just concluded in Tarvisio (ITA), Villach (AUT) and Planica (SLO) for the Nordic disciplines.

  • FIS Solidarity

The FIS Solidarity programme is designed to assist active National Ski Associations with the development of the sport in their country or region. My task is to evaluate requests for financial support and to provide them to the FIS Council which will then make a decision. Within this framework, we are sending experts to the nations generally for coaching the coaches or training sports administrators. Most recently, experienced coaches visited Lebanon, Armenia and Iran to train local coaches.

  • Advice

I travel to a number of nations to hold lectures on the development of ski areas, staging events and developing winter sports for the general public. Most recently, I was in Almaty (KAZ), Georgia, China, Nepal and Cyprus.

  • Education and Seminars

The programme features three types of seminars: A Leaders’ Seminar (biannual), a Youth & Children’s Seminar (annual) and a Ladies’ Seminar (biannual). These specialist seminars are an excellent opportunity to learn and share, and include topics such as the long-term development of athletes.

To coordinate all these activities, I receive valuable support from the FIS office which handles the organisational side of the programme.

What are some of the upcoming activities?

The next FIS Leaders’ Seminar will be held in Brussels (BEL) in August, covering the topic “From good to excellent – Continental Cup to World Cup”. 30 participants from 24 FIS Development Programme Member Associations have signed up. They will hear lectures from within the ski family and the ski industry and participate in a variety of workshops (click for the programme).


Any final word?

With the various projects and activities, it is our principal aim to promote grassroots sport in the countries to build a solid platform for bringing youth and children to the snow, rather than producing high performance athletes. But naturally we like it, when once in a lifetime, a skier from one of the nations which is part of the FIS Development Programme such as Belgium, Dries Van den Broecke, is faster than super star Marcel Hirscher of Austria in the team event at the recent FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in St. Moritz.