FIS Rejects Appeal; Koos Ready to Move On

Audrey ManganJanuary 16, 201218
Torin Koos skiing in the 30 k at U.S. Nationals last week. Photo: Flying Point Road.

After less than a week of deliberation, the International Ski Federation (FIS) Appeals Committee responded to the case Torin Koos (BSF/Rossignol) filed last Monday regarding his disqualification from the classic sprint at U.S. Cross Country Championships in Rumford, ME for obstruction of competition. The Committee rejected his case for lack of sufficient evidence.

In his appeal, Koos primarily took issue with the process by which the jury disqualified him, which he interpreted as a departure from the due process outlined in the FIS International Competition Rulebook (ICR). According to Koos, he was not allowed to defend his actions from the A-final before he was informed of his disqualification, which violates rule 224.7 in the ICR.

The committee’s response cited Koos’s lack of evidence to support this claim, and in its official ruling, included counterevidence for Rumford TD Kent Slaughter that stated Koos had actually been allowed to give a defense before the jury ruled to suspend him from competition. This decision automatically resulted in disqualification, as it was the second reprimand Koos received that week.

In a written statement on Monday morning, Koos maintained that he felt his case had been a strong one, but had no choice to accept the Appeals Commission’s decision.

“I received a written letter from the U.S. Anti Doping Agency stating twenty minutes after finishing the race that the race jury had disqualified me,” wrote Koos. “The letter goes on to say this is the sole reason the lead Doping Control Officer released me from doping control. As this all happened before I was summoned to the race jury room, [BSF coaches] Tim [Baucom], Bjorn [Bakken], Dragan [Danevski] and I all felt we had independent, verified evidence that the due process ensuring an athlete the right to defend themselves had been infringed upon.

“It is apparent from the decision that FIS felt otherwise,” he continued. “I have to respect this decision.”

The day after the conclusion of racing in Rumford, Koos got on a plane to Trondheim, Norway, where he will live for the rest of the winter to train and race for the ski club based there. With the conclusion of his appeal, Koos said he wants to move on and focus on the rest of his year.

“It is over and I really look forward to the rest of the season,” he said. “I have been really appreciative of all the encouragement and support I have received, both in all the years skiing, and also with this appeals process. A special thank you has to go out to the Bridger Ski Foundation.”

Koos continued on to say he was appreciative of the work the Black Mountain volunteers put in to make the 2012 U.S. Nationals possible, which he believes is what people should remember about the week of racing in Rumford.

“At the events banquet dinner, a Chisholm ski member stood up and told a story about how Matt Pauli had paid his own way and was using up his vacation time to prepare the courses at Black Mountain,” wrote Koos. “Hearing this story was special and reminded me why being a part of the Nordic ski community is such a privilege.”

Audrey Mangan

Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.

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  • nyctvt

    January 16, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Wow! If you read the race reports form the sprint races in Milan, especially the team sprints with everyone cutting everyone off and skiing over top of other skiers skis and nobody getting DQ’ed, what Torin Koos did was nothing.

  • Martin Hall

    January 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    That’s why our skiers get killed in Europe—they play a rougher game over there and you never or almost ever see anyone DQed—-while here we play by the rules and create sissies. I can guarantee you if you were to go and check a ton of US and Canada results from sprints in Europe 80 to 90 % of the time our kids go backward fron their qualifying postiion. Also, we have now gone to just doing the qualifying piece of the sprinting format—just to get the points—no heats—-so we lose all those expereinces of having to develop strategies and using tactics. Another weakness in the system is the officials—they are being way to judgemental. Did Koos interfere to the point were he effected the other racers out come in the race???—if not –don’t call it.

  • xclad

    January 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    This is a sad day for cross country skiing. I wasnt there i didnt see it. But i have watched races from europe on tv and youtube. Look up some of the sprints on youtube. Send 6 guys, all competitive and eager to win, down a narrow course. there is bound to be a few problems, intentional or not. You have to learn to overome them, its part of being able to be a fast sprinter.
    In slight contrast to that, i believe sprint prologues are a smart move for the US. Get the points, get the higher world rankings, ask for more funding. Nobody is going to pay out for a team of people ranked way back in the 100s no matter how good they can ski a heat. On top of that, when the best guys do go to europe, and compete in the world cup, they absolutely must qualify. It is not ok to take good “heats” skiers, that stand no chance of qualifying. The prologue pace is electric now, look how many norwegians dont qualify! You have to be on your A game from the gun to stand a chance.
    Ultimately what im saying is, its better to defiantly make a 1/4 final, and learn the heats later, than never qualify in the first place.

  • biwabik

    January 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Reminds me of high school skiing in Minnesota where it’s no longer okay to kick around downhill corners in classic races.

  • Tim Kelley

    January 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    What is truly sad about this situation is that we are watching bureaucracy and lack of common sense change cross country ski racing from a purely athletic event to a judged event. Now “style points” are a part of winning. It’s not if you are the fastest or strongest, winning is now also based on your “style” (at least in the US). Now cross country skiing is getting like snowboard half-pipe competitions, freestyle skiing and figure skating. If a judge doesn’t like your style you lose.

    Potential NBC Olympics commentary of the future: We just heard the comment from the Bulgarian cross country skiing judge, now let’s hear the comment from the judge from Maine: “Yes he was by far the fastest, but gosh … his style just didn’t gel with me. It just seemed too, I don’t know … ‘aggressive’. So I had no choice but to give him zero style points and that caused him to be DQ’d.”

    What’s next for the sport of cross country skiing? Will competitors start having to wear elaborate designer uniforms with sequins and feathers to try and appease the judges (or course marshals or officials or whatever their title is) … just like in figure skating?

    These changes would be fine if the cross country skiing community was first asked: “Do you want to radically change the sport from an athletic event to a judged event?” But that isn’t how it happened. Instead the bureaucracy of the FIS and the blind allegiance of its followers, and not the skiing community, changed the basic nature of the sport. And that’s a sad thing.

  • Ben Arians

    January 16, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Tim, you were awarded the gold in the “Leaping to Conclusions” event, however you were penalized on your style points because your uniform wasn’t just right, so you only get Silver 😉

  • Cory Salmela

    January 16, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Last I checked North American’s have 5 men in the Sprint World Cup Top 30, Kikkan is leading by 124 points, Crawford is 5th, and two young US sprinters have stepped on a World Cup Podium. This is the golden age of North American Ski Sport. Every discipline is stepping up (Alpine, xc, biathlon, NC, Women’s Jumping) and sayin HELLO. Kind of fed up with the 70’s set pissing on the party. This is an awesome time. Lot’s of great coaching, training, and racing going down….. Wouldn’t you say??

  • cork1

    January 16, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    For the record, I don’t think it’s good that Torin got DQed for his move.

    That being said: “here we play by the rules and create sissies” — Marty, anyone — please give me one other example of a DQ in a FIS or USSA race in the US for aggressive skiing. I was talking with at least four other people — a coaches, two industry people and TD — before the classic sprint at Rumford, and we couldn’t think of a sprint DQ in the US. (Tim Reynolds was DQed for a finish lane obstruction in 2010, but that’s all I can find):

    They ski aggressively in Europe and don’t often get DQed; they do it in the US, too. The rule about clearing the tips of the ski was apparently redefined and clarified this year. You can’t blame the TDs, who went through the training and discussed the new rule, for following it. It’s a bummer for Torin, but I don’t think it means the US is going to lose a step from the successes we’ve had on the World Cup.

  • JustinFereshetian

    January 16, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    While I can’t say that I agree with the decision to DQ Torin, I can’t disagree with it either because I didn’t see that moment of the race. But, to say that American skiing is going to suffer from this because it will “create sissies” is a little over the top. Regardless of the fact that Torin got shafted to the bottom of the results, he still was physically the first racer to cross the finish line in that final, so clearly he knows what he needs to do to be successful in sprint rounds. I do not believe that this DQ is going to change anything about his tactics either. He knows he was the fastest skier that day, and while he would most certainly appreciate to have officially won, he knows he can compete for the win in any domestic sprint.

    And Martin Hall, I wouldn’t say that leading the Sprint Cup, or or being ranked 4th in the overall World Cup rankings classifies as “getting killed in Europe”. Also if you watch the video of Kikkan in the Dusseldorf individual sprint, she was arguably the most aggressive woman in that A-final, and she ended up winning that race, you can’t do much better than that. I think Cory Salmela has a good point, North American skiing is improving.

  • jo546

    January 17, 2012 at 12:03 am

    Not sure why Marty is talking like that. Perhaps he’s thinking of way back in the 70-80’s when he was coaching. NA skiers are very aggressive in their skiing now. They are not afraid to go for it. Let’s move forward to 2012 where xc skiing in NA has never been this good and healthy. Koos got disqualified for breaking the rules twice in a few days; it’s time to move on to other things and get off soap boxes.

  • freeheels

    January 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    on the world cup, our men get bullied out of the finals and semis. these two quotes from last weekend should shed a little light..
    “We were banging into each other too much, and we dropped back because of that, which sucked,” said Newell
    “I was trying to get to the opposite side to tag,” Hamilton said. “I was just trying to throw in a couple moves to get ahead to Andy, and he reached over and just shoved me down.”

    This has been going on for years. Watch the movies online. You can talk rules, TD’s, 70’s grumps, development…but DQ’n Torin is bad for the sport in the US and just a plain ole sh!t sandwich. Kikkan is successful because is the MOST aggressive one!

  • highstream

    January 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    A lot of commenters here have used skating race examples to make their points about classic race situations. I’ve watched nearly all the WC and Olympics videos made available in the U.S. over the past 12 years or so, sprint and distance, and at least in terms of where the cameras are, have rarely seen someone change tracks by going over another’s skis. Close, making others adjust, but very very rarely over.

  • Strider2

    January 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Mr. Hall obviously hasn’t watched World Cup in a long time, if he did he would know that the US has some of the more aggressive skiers on the course. This weekend, in Milano, Kikkan knocked over one racer and broke the pole of another in the A final. So to say that the US skiers are “sissies” is disingenuous and just plain wrong.

    I wonder if the people complaining about the ‘bureaucracy’ and ‘officialdom’ (that is apparently rampant in the US?) of FIS have ever volunteered at a ski race or in the ski community. To be mad at volunteers for doing their job is surely no way to support cross country skiing in North America.

    Koos broke the rules, and thus had to suffer the consequences of his actions.

  • davord

    January 17, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    I guess in the jury’s mind it’s ok for skiers to false start and not be called back to the starting line but it’s not ok for skiers to make aggressive moves (which so often happen in sprint races anyways) out on the course. I’d really love to see footage of that moment and would love to hear more from the official who saw it so we can see what’s right and what’s wrong. One official saw something that in his eyes and head wasn’t normal, he goes to the TD and race jury, they talk it over quickly, he tells them what he saw or thought he saw, they don’t have evidence/footage/clue what happened or might have happened but they decide in a matter of minutes, without notifying the athlete and his coach(es) to DQ the athlete, who BTW dominated the race. Sounds reasonable to me. I hear FIS tends to side with the organization rather than skier(s) in a lot of appeal cases, just so they can say they have ‘support’ or ‘confidence’ in the race organization, so I guess I am not entirely shocked to see this denied even without FIS wanting more details/evidence from both sides.

  • anchskier

    January 17, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    davord – if you read the articles, one thing you don’t see is Koos himself denying that he did the action that he was penalized for. He appealed the DQ based almost completely on the basis of the process they used in informing him and imposing the penalty as well as the severity of the penalty.

    I keep hearing people say that he should have gotten away with it because others get away with similar things all the time. Sorry. As with many things, just because others got away with it doesn’t mean it isn’t wrong, you just got unlucky as far as getting caught doing it. If you don’t like it, work to change the rules. Don’t complain about the rules that are in place getting enforced or encourage them to “overlook” certain rules (like cutting across anothers ski tips before clearing them) while enforcing others (such as skating in a classic race for example).

  • davord

    January 18, 2012 at 8:05 am

    “Getting away with it?” “Getting away with it,” would be better suited for speeding or chewing a gum in class, or something similar, everyday occurance. I am saying the jury and FIS specifically need to have a balance and have equal rules for everyody, the same ‘rules’ that you mentioned in your last sentence. FIS needs to be more forthright and have more eqaulity when enforcing their rules. FIS has more jury members and officials out on the course, start/finish areas, inside the race HQ, than there are racers and coaches most of the time, and they also have plenty videos as well and often things get reviewed and athletes and coaches are warned and/or penalized AFTER meeting with the officials.

    There was a Russian serviceman who right after a QF or SF heat that one or two of the Russian sprinters were involved in, jumped to the finish area too quickly to get the athletes skis and start working on them. I believe the Russians were issued a warning and even a fine. Obviously this a bit different, but you see that FIS has beef with certain details while out on the course, ‘anything goes.’ Why, for example, was Austria not DQ’d straight up for shoving Simi down on purpose? They only said they would ‘sanction’ them. FIS has to be more consistent, and I as I said in my previous post, they have to ask for more details from both sides, they didn’t and I also mentioned that they tend to side with the race organization, even without having enough evidence or asking for more evidence from either side, just so they can show that they have trust in the race organization. The race organization broke their own rules by not informing him or his coach(es) and not giving him enough time to defend himself and appeal in the aftermath.

    I am sure the Rumford OC did a heck of a job organizing the whole even and seeing how little snow they had to work with to put on 4 races, they did a great job, as they always do, at least when I raced there. However, I think they messed up on this one big time, and we know the USSA is too slow to respond anyways for anything to change, or at least change when there was still an opportunity for a change. Yes I am comparing what FIS does on the international stage to what the USSA/FIS organizations do domestically because it’s important, and seeing that this was a FIS race, same rules should apply. If the USSA/FIS wants to have these races held to the highest level possible, basically WC levels, then they should follow their own rules. Otherwise we start looking like North Korea, and that’s never a good sign.

  • highstream

    January 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Commenters seem to be missing that not only did Koos not deny the infraction, but also that fellow competitor Kornfield, i.e., a close eyewitness, described the violation and was of the opinion that Koos ought to have been penalized.

  • rweston

    January 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Must be a poor snow year? Nothing better to do than “cry over spilled milk”? It’s over “boys” and I don’t believe that the FIS and the US Cross Country Ski Rules are the reason we “get pushed around”. We have and are making great strides but, we still are not fast enough or tough enough on a day to day basis to “ski off the front”. We all agree that it’s much easier to blame an official or the rules than to take a “hard look” at what one has done and is doing that will make him/her faster and toupher. Kikkan and her lifetime of coaches have it figured out and she will soon reach the summit. Just like Billy Demong did. Passion for the sport is where it all begins.
    So, if you really want to be “the Best of Anything” you better well be Passionate about it to the extent that you will let nothing stop you or discourage you from reaching that summit and surround yourself with family, friends and coaches whom will fuel that Passion. GO TEAM USA ! ! !

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