2019 is upon us and it is one that is sure to be filled with many highlights in skiing and snowboarding.
With the turn of the year come major World Cup highlights. Already well underway is the 13thedition of the Tour de Ski, which kicked off in Toblach (ITA) earlier this week. The Four Hills Tournament has reached the halfway stage with packed stadiums at the first two stops in Oberstdorf and Garmisch. In its 67thedition, the Four Hills has proven to be of one of winter sports most successful and enduring events. And naturally Alpine Skiing is eagerly anticipating its annual January classics with Zagreb, Adelboden, Cortina, Wengen, St. Anton and Kitzbühel set to take centre stage over the next three weekends.
And that’s just in January. In February, our biggest bi-annual highlights will be staged on the slopes as Park City (USA), Are (SWE) and Seefeld (AUT) will welcome the world’s best athletes at the FIS Freestyle Snowboard and Freeski World Ski Championships, the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships and the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. This is the chance for our sports and our athletes to shine on a global level – and there is no doubt that all three Organisers have prepared everything to the highest standards.
The start of the 2018/19 competition season has proven to be both successful and challenging. Thus far, we have managed to stage the majority of our FIS World Cup events despite another early season of mixed weather conditions as the Organisers have worked extremely hard to hold the events. I thank each and every Organiser for their massive efforts to keep our competition schedule on track.
I hope that together with the change of the year, the mountains will see some traditional winter weather. Snow is not just needed for competitions at all levels, but particularly for the entire winter sports tourism industry that has struggled with another slow start to the winter in some parts of the world.
For me personally, I am looking forward to two very exciting FIS initiatives in the upcoming year aside from the action on the slopes. In November, FIS will stage the Mainau Conference, which will be a high-level academic seminar about the environment in the mountains. The initial conference on the topic of the Environment organised by FIS led to the creation of the Mainau Manifesto,which was adopted by the FIS Congress in 1994. It is a highly relevant that we gather the leading experts in this area again to take another step forward.
The second initiative is the President’s Conference, which will be staged in the years between the FIS Congress at the FIS Calendar Conference meetings. This year it will take place in Cavtat-Dubrovnik (CRO) on 1stJune. It is important that FIS has an open and ongoing dialogue with its National Ski Associations and stakeholders and the President’s Conference is an ideal opportunity for everyone to communicate together in such an open forum.
I would like to close by wishing the hundreds of athletes preparing for the FIS World Championships the best of luck. We all look forward to your outstanding performances and to crowning the next generation of World Champions, which will hopefully inspire youngsters all over the world to take up the sport. We also look forward to unforgettable performances and the many captivating storylines that await the ski world.
Finally, I wish all of our Organisers, athletes, media representatives, partners and sponsors, fans and followers a successful and peaceful 2019. There is no better way to start this New Year than enjoying the snow!
Gian Franco Kasper