The 2012 edition of the spring International Ski Federation (FIS) Congress draws to a close on Thursday in Kangwonland, South Korea. While the selection of the 2017 World Championships host has yet to be announced, several decisions have been finalized pertaining to World Cup races for next season. The Norwegian National Team’s official website details some of the most notable developments and includes comments from FIS cross-country committee chairman Vegard Ulvang.
Many of the decisions listed below pertain to FIS’s ongoing effort to increase the marketability of cross-country skiing while maintaining quality of racing. Television viewership in Europe skyrocketed this year, but there are still tweaks being made to race formats, including:
- A shortened men’s relay. For the two World Cup relays on the calendar this coming winter, the distance of each leg will be shortened from 10 k to 7.5 k. The World Championships relay in Val di Fiemme will still be the traditional 4×10, but if the trial during the regular season proves that a shorter run time makes for a more exciting race, we could see shorter Olympic and championship relays in the future. There are no alterations planned for the women’s 4×5 k.
- Ski changes during the Holmenkollen 30/50 k will be penalized next year. Previously, athletes could switch skis during the course of the race and enjoy faster boards at no cost. FIS wants there to be a bigger tactical component to the race, so skiers will now have to make an extra lap of the stadium if they choose to change equipment, forcing individuals to carefully weigh whether a fresh pair of skis is worth the extra distance.
- Women’s sprints can now be up to 1.6 k long, up from the previous 1.4 k limit.
- The future of city sprints on the World Cup will be under review this season. None have been cut from the calendar (and Quebec presents an addition), but the practicality of the format is constantly being considered. “[It] is very good for the sport, but races are often a challenge for organizers,” Ulvang said. “Therefore, FIS will make a policy assessment over the next year whether city sprints should be on the schedule or not. Tracks have often not been good enough, but there was agreement at the meeting to proceed with city sprints at least another season.”
- Lillehammer, Norway, will host the World Cup season opener in 2013. This isn’t necessarily a marketing-related decision, but the number of spectators at the 1994 Olympic venue will likely be quite high.
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Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.
May 30, 2012 at 9:26 pm
I don`t like the shortening of the relay, mostly cause its my favorite event atm and i want it to be as long as possible.
I also dislike increasing the length of sprints. If skiing is going to have sprints they shude be sprints not mini distance events. As it is now the combined length traveled by the sprint winer is longer then the shortest distance event.
I hope they keep city sprints they are a lot of fun. But i guess its difficult and costly to organize them.
As for the ski changing thing i think it would be better if they just limited it to one change per race. It would make it more difficult for the athletes to choose when to change, and it would not put such a strain on smaller teams with less support staff and pairs of skis.
May 30, 2012 at 11:26 pm
BRILLIANT on every level! Making the relay’s shorter will potentially add more traditional sprint specialists into the mix and most likely keep the field much tighter…smart move.
City sprints, while flat, are an excellent venue for spectators that bring so much energy to all of the races.
Glad to see FIS moving in the right direction . . take note USSA
June 6, 2012 at 12:32 am
Geez, I hope the sprints stay.
The penalty lap for ski changes sounds like a mistake. For a sport in which, basically fastest wins, there are already too many nuances, bells, and whitles in the world cup program that make it difficult for the uninitiated to follow.