Polish Appeal Likely, but What Next?

Nathaniel HerzDecember 12, 20102

Kikkan Randall is in for a long week.

With the news that the Polish Ski Association (PSA) plans to appeal Justyna Kowalczyk’s relegation in the Sunday’s women’s sprint final in Davos—which elevated Randall to third place—the Alaskan could be waiting until late this coming week to find out whether she gets to keep her podium finish, and the $5,000 that goes with it.

According to International Ski Federation (FIS) rules, the PSA can take up to 72 hours after the publication of the results to submit its appeal in writing, whereupon a special FIS commission will undertake a review of the incident. That commission then has up to 72 more hours to come to a decision—which means that Randall may not know her fate until Saturday, at the latest.

The relegation stemmed from an aggressive move by Kowalczyk on the race’s homestretch, when she moved quickly to her right to prevent Randall from passing.

The race jury ruled almost immediately that Kowalczyk had engaged in obstruction, and placed her last in the heat.

The move was blatant, and FIS Cross-Country Race Director Jurg Capol told FasterSkier afterwards that he had no doubt the jury decision would be confirmed in the event of a protest.

But Kowalczyk’s official website stated Sunday evening that the PSA would still file a formal appeal on Monday, setting into motion a complicated process.

According to Capol, appeals are decided by a three-member commission chaired by Karl-Heinz Lickert, the head of FIS’s rules and controls committee.

Assuming Kowalczyk’s appeal moves forward, Capol said that Lickert will choose two other members of the rules committee to serve with him on the appeals commission—neither of whom can come from Poland or the U.S., to avoid bias.

Along with a $500 deposit—which is refunded if the appeal is upheld—the PSA must compile and submit their evidence of Kowalczyk’s innocence.

“You need to do your arguments; you need to show some video material,” Capol said.

According to Capol, the appeals commission will also gather information from the race jury, including minutes and information about its own discussions.

Based on the evidence available, the commission then has 72 hours after the appeal submission to render a decision, which is based on a simple vote.

While Lickert may be in for a busy few days, Capol said that he was sure that the jury made the correct decision, and that it would not be overturned.

“It was clear for me—I have no doubt about this,” he said. “If there is an appeal, the appeal[s] commission will confirm the decision of the jury.”

Nathaniel Herz

Nat Herz is an Alaska-based journalist who moonlights for FasterSkier as an occasional reporter and podcast host. He was FasterSkier's full-time reporter in 2010 and 2011.

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  • kamehameha

    December 13, 2010 at 10:50 am

    As we saw during live transmission Kowalczyk was first to take right finish corridor and had all the rights to stay there. She can’t change lanes according to rules article 340.1.4 but she didn’t do that – if she was blocking Randall it was inside her corridor. In the same time, jury guidelines says clearly:

    The responsibility for a correct passing without obstruction is on the
    overtaking skier. The overtaking skier must have his/her skis in front of the skis of the overtaken
    skier before skiing a best line.

    So, it was Randall’s responsibility to overtake Kowalczyk without an obstruction and she failed to do that. There was clear obstruction. Instead of changing the corridor which was allowed (although popular belief is that it’s not allowed at all) in this case per 340.1.4 –
    340.1.4 Once the competitors enter a zone where corridors are marked they must remain
    in their chosen corridor unless they are overtaking another competitor in the same
    Randall was causing an obstruction in the right corridor.

    Based on all above, it seems to me that Jury made a too quick decision.

  • Lars

    December 15, 2010 at 8:56 am

    I disagree with the previous poster, Kowalczyk was first chose her lane then when Randall was overtakeing her she changed lanes to block her.
    Now the way i understand the rules the leading skier gets to chose witch line theywant but when that is done changeing lanes to block other skiers is not allowed.

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