During a scheduling meeting held this past weekend in Strasbourg, the International Ski Federation (FIS) dealt with a suggestion to alter the list of races at World Championship and Olympic events. According to multiple news sources, it looks as though the historic 30 km race distance for men will soon become merely history. The proposal is to replace the 30 km with a 2 x 15 skiathlon (or continuous pursuit) race. The women’s 15 km events would also be switched to a 2 x 7.5 skiathlon race. The final decision is expected to be made this coming weekend at a FIS directors’ meeting to be held this coming weekend in Stockholm.
Jan Palander, the Swedish cross-country sport director was quoted by Norway’s VG newspaper saying: â€œThere was a lot of discussion about the new suggestion. Personally I a very against (it), but there is a good chance that it will go through.â€ The World Cup racers themselves have delivered a protest to the FIS against the skiathlon format, although that appears to have had little effect. Now some are airing their bitterness. World Cup Overall Champion Mathias Fredriksson of Sweden said, â€œThis shows that the FIS doesn’t give a damn about what the racers think. It seemed like they wanted to listen to us, but then they didn’t after all. We racers will have to discuss this again and see what we will do if this proposal goes through.â€
Another aspect of the proposed schedule is to include a two-person sprint relay in addition to the existing format for sprint races.