During the days in Cape Town (RSA), the members of the FIS Cross-Country Committee and its various Sub-Committees were working hard for the development of the discipline. Several new rules and adaptations of the regulations were prepared to make the sport more attractive, fair and more easily understandable. Here the most important changes:
While in the last several years the distance and sprint races were counting to the overall World Cup based on a 2:1 ratio, from next season on, every race, whether it is a distance race or a sprint race will count to the overall World Cup ranking; the team sprint and relay competitions will count, as before, only to the Nations Cup.
In the future, the athletes will start according to their FIS points and the red group according to their World Cup points. This means that the so-called national group will not be placed in the front, but that they, too, will start according to their FIS points.
A refinement to the Team Sprint was also approved: the team sprint will in the future consist of two qualification heats, a break of 45 min and after that a final heat. With this break, fairness for the athletes is guaranteed and all will have sufficient time to recover. For TV, FIS can provide an exact starting time of the final, which will help to have more live transmissions.
To make the mass start races more attractive, the FIS Council allowed a trial with intermediate sprints where the top three athletes can win World Cup points (15 -10 -5) in competitions over 30 km (women) and 50 km (men).
The Tour de Ski rules were amended as well. The time limit rules in interval start Stages were further specified, so that over distances up to 5 km the athletes may not loose more than 18 % (women) or 15 % (men) to the winning time to be allowed to continue in the Tour. In interval start competitions over 5 km, these time limits are 23% for the women and 20% for the men.
At the third Tour de Ski, the current Tour leader will receive prize money of CHF 2'500 at each Stage. The top three in the Tour Team Cup will be honored with prize money in the future as well.
During the Tour de Ski and the World Cup Final, the top 30 athletes (last season top 15) will earn World Cup points (1st=50 points, …30th =1 point) each day in addition to the World Cup points for the overall Tour. To receive these points, the athlete has to finish the entire competition series.
The World Cup Final will be hosted by Sweden and includes a sprint in Stockholm and then three competitions in Falun (a short interval start race dubbed â€œKing of Bakkenâ€, a pursuit and a handicap start race). The prize money of 320'000 CHF will be paid out to the 10 best in the overall ranking, the top five in the sprint ranking and the top three each day.
Furthermore, in order to make the sport more attractive for the spectators and athletes FIS also decided to change the rules for the team wax cabins which should make the working conditions for the service staff better. The space per athlete will be enlarged and a ventilation rule will be developed together with the FIS Medical Committee.
In order to provide more support to the Organizing Committees of the World Cup competitions, the role descriptions for competition management were revised. The Technical Delegate Assistant (TDA) will arrive earlier at the venues to help the OC prepare the field of play. During the entire World Cup season 2008/2009 three or four different TD Assistants (â€˜semi-professionals') will share the job, transmit knowledge from venue to venue and assist the FIS Race Director in sport-technical questions. The role of the Race Director was newly defined and will focus more on marketing and event aspects.