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Park & Pipe decisions and highlights from the annual Spring Meetings
Scotty James (AUS) in Aspen (USA) © Mark Clavin/US Ski & Snowboard

A busy week of online meetings came to a close on Thursday with the congregation of the FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski Committee at the 2021 FIS Spring Meetings. Originally scheduled to take place in Portoroz (SLO), this year’s gathering was moved to the virtual realm for some obvious reasons, and while we once again missed being able to see our snowsport family in person, each one of the subcommittees and advisory groups that met over the course of these past few days resulted in some productive sessions. While few major decisions were agreed upon as we head into an Olympic season, the wheels were put in motion for various potential refinements for most events ahead of the 2022/23 competition year.

Read on for some of the main highlights and decisions from this spring’s Park & Pipe Subcommittee meeting…

2020/21 Season Overview

  • Despite the enormous challenges presented this past season, we saw a remarkable commitment from our organisers, athletes, teams and FIS staff both on the ground and in the office, working together to follow the guidelines in order to have a safe a successful season. Out of 6000 tests administered at our events, we saw only eight positive covid-19 cases amongst athletes and staff.
  • Unfortunately, our calendars were the most heavily impacted of any under the Snowboard, Freestyle & Freeski umbrella, with more than half the season’s events cancelled. Still, when one considers that Park & Pipe events were the only ones that required intercontinental travel in 2020/21, and the huge successes we saw at the events that were held, there’s plenty of positives to take away from last season. Thanks to Stubai (AUT), Kreischberg (AUT), Laax (SUI), Aspen (USA) and Silvaplana (SUI) for hosting World Cup events this season.
  • Aspen 2021 World Championships were a huge success, despite the last-minute confirmation and planning, and US Ski & Snowboard and the local team in Aspen deserves a huge thank you. Park & Pipe events were some of the most-watched of any of the World Championships competitions - 70% of all SB/FS/FK World Champs competition viewing was for our competitions.
  • Continued trend of lower injury rates through last season. However, we continue to work to analyze each instance and work to refine and improve course design and safety measures.
  • Second season of new entry and quota rules went well, with new system and adjusted field sizes operating mostly smoothly.
  • Junior World Championships in Krasnoyarsk (RUS) were of the highest possible level. The OC definitely set a new bar for the organization of these Championships. Teams mentioned that they felt like they were at little Olympics, and the performances were at a level rarely seen in JWC competition. Exceptional stuff all around.
  • Continental Cups took a big hit last season, with only European Cup events able to take place. However, those events were generally excellent. More and more the Europa Cups events are a step up from FIS level events and towards the World Cups. The new minimum points for SB help to control numbers and have a big impact on safety. There were significantly less injuries amongst younger athletes than last season. 

Looking forward to 2021/22 and beyond…

  • In some key respects our competition presentation needs to change. While our events feature the most spectacular action on snow and carry plenty of cool cachet, long programme run-times and breaks between action mean viewers don’t stay engaged - especially for slopestyle events. Intent is to work on solutions to these problems beginning immediately in 2021/22, with options including:
  1. standardize and shorten the duration of events with two run finals for slopestyle
  2. hold women’s and men’s finals on separate days
  3. reduce number of athletes in finals
  • However, for BA it’s been generally agreed that a three-run qualification in the same format as finals is generally desirable for most parties
  • Video judging continues to be successful, while the section-by-section judging system remains a point of conversation - especially in the freeski community
  • 2021/22 competition calendar looks strong at this point, with
  • Once again it was brought up by several nations that HP is struggling as the number of HP decreases as well as the number of competitors. CAN (Julie Steggall) proposed to establish a working group to look for tools and systems to allow HP to grow again.
  • The points list agreement with the World Snowboard Federation is in final stages of ratification, which is depending on a meeting of the board which can’t be done until in-person meetings can be held in Austria. At the moment WSF board will have a vote of confidence on our Online meeting in June and then the Full ratification on the fall meeting.

Beijing 2022 points of note

  • New proposal has been submitted with the extended calculation period which has the approval from the Legal and Sportif stakeholders, and we’re in the final review stages with an ethical portion. As soon as final approval has been confirmed all teams will be informed and the new update simulations and calculations will be made available.
  • Proposal will extend the qualification period backwards to 2019/20, with the best five results considered for halfpipe, the best four results for big air, and the best six results for slopestyle, for both freeski and snowboard athletes.
  • Beijing 2022 programme has been moved up two weeks, and will now run from 2-15 Feb 2022 for snowboard and 4-19 Feb 2022 for Freeski
 
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