FIS Mulls Changes to Sprint Events at Major Championships

Kieran JonesJune 14, 20105
Norway's Petter Northug passes Germany's Axel Teichmann in the finals of the team sprint at the 2010 Olympic Games.

At the recent International Ski Federation (FIS) Congress in Turkey, one of the hot button topics was the future of the team sprint event. In a recent e-mail, U.S. Ski Team Athlete Representative Kikkan Randall informed FasterSkier that a proposal was put forth to change the sprint racing formula for major championships.

The proposed change was to remove the team sprint in favor of a second individual sprint, or add a second individual sprint in addition to the team sprint in both the World Ski Championships (WSC) and the Olympic Winter Games (OWG).

Randall stated that both support and opposition existed for a change in the sprint event format, and that a working group will be created in order to discuss it further.

The major proponents of the switch were several national ski federations. In an e-mail to FasterSkier, FIS Cross Country Race Director Jϋrg Capol confirmed that discussions regarding a change in sprint events took place. “We got the feedback from some of the National Ski Associations to implement a second sprint,” Capol said.

While it is not clear which specific ski federations pushed for the inclusion of another event, Capol was adamant that such a change would not be made quickly. “WSC/OWG program changes should never be done in short hand perspective. Decisions based on national interest should not be the priority factor number 1,” Capol stated.

The addition of another sprint event is very unlikely, and a logistical challenge. Capol stated that there is “no chance” of adding an event to the already-packed Olympic schedule. Furthermore, Capol felt that the team sprint was one of the favourite events at both the WSC and the OWG, as smaller countries are able to participate and succeed as a nation in the smaller relay event.

Kieran Jones

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  • nikolai248

    June 14, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Teichman is German not Russian, but the third guy in the picture is Russian.

  • Nathaniel Herz

    June 14, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Good point–thanks. That’s my fault, not Kieran’s.

  • teamepokeedsbyn

    June 14, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Maybe less “sprints” would be better than more.

    Individual sprints really boring to watch, exactly why “flat” sprint stages in bike races are least viewed and why serious mountain stages generate the most sponsorship $. X-C spectaorship is about watching people going long distances, suffering big, bleeding and near death, and drama unfolding over the race as a result. A “crit” style circut race lasting 45min-1 hour would be much more exciting, and marketable, than any “sprint”.

    Another distance race instead would be better than lame sprint. Scrap the mass start 50km which has become a sprint finish, as skis and waxes have equalized speed much over last 20 years, add another 15-20 (m/w) “crit” circut race instead, and repalce m50km and w30km with a 60km cl or 70km fs for men and 40km cl -50km fs for women. (30km for women an insult as a “marathon” now).

    Team sprint ok, but individual sprint really boring to watch (“good thing that skier has a size 11 shoe, as he beat the guy with a size 8” – yawn), and seems same people generaly on podium in sprints as distance races, so whats the point? Just my opinion as a spectator.

  • Cloxxki

    June 15, 2010 at 2:07 am

    In track cycling, I don’t know the name of the race, one contestent gets dropped every 1km or so, being last to cross the line.
    On a properly designed course, that might be fun to watch in XC. Other skiers may deal with the tactics and brutals intervals better than the usual favorites.

    I bugged me as tv spectator to only get classic individual sprinting from Vancouver. One can be a greater skate sprinter for 8 years, and not shine in Olympics.

    I’m not really buying the logistical issues of having a race more on the same course, but would be interested to hear them and be convinced.

  • Tim Kelley

    June 16, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    I wonder if we will ever see a year go by when the format of xc ski racing doesn’t change. In recent years it has been sprint racing course length changes, heat changes and number of qualifier changes. Prior to that: addition of pit stops and primes in distance races, and mini-tours. Seems like everyone in the world understands the sport of running, because the format of running the mile, 100 meters or the marathon hasn’t changed in 100-plus years. Perhaps the world of TV spectators would better understand and support xc skiing if its format didn’t change every year.

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