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.