A busy week of online meetings came to a close on Thursday with the congregation of the FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski Committee at the 2022 FIS Spring Meetings. Originally scheduled to take place in Vilamoura (POR), this year’s gathering was moved to the virtual realm yet once again. And while we missed being able to see our snowsport family in person, each one of the sub-committees and advisory groups that met over the course of these past few days resulted in some productive sessions. While few major decisions were agreed upon, the wheels were put in motion for various potential refinements for most events ahead of the 2022/23 competition year as we head into another four-year Olympic cycle.
Read on for some of the main highlights and decisions from this spring’s meeting…
Various reports by FIS Race Directors, staff as well as other stakeholders were presented assessing this past 2021/22 season, while also looking into other topics including technical delegates and judges educations as well as the future development of moguls & aerials.
For the very last time Walt Hiltner (AUS) oversaw the freestyle sub-committee meeting as a chair, and after many years of work and dedications to the world of moguls & aerials he will be stepping down from his role, fulfilling his goal of serving the freestyle community until 2022 through Beijing 2022 and the completion of the World Cup season.
Looking back at 2021/22 it was something of a difficult year for moguls & aerials as some situations disturbed the regular course of the World Cup circuit, with the end of the season the most drastically effected.
However, despite those challenges the 2021/22 tour was for the most part highly successful, visiting eight different locations – including a spectacular first-ever double event in Alpe d’Huez, thrilling returns to the World Cup scene by Chiesa in Valmalenco and Le Relais, and visits to some classic stops in Idre, Tremblant, Deer Valley and Megeve. Also worth mentioning is the collaboration between the Chinese Ski Association with the Finnish Federation for the organisation of four aerials competitions at the beginning of the season in Ruka, which was very interesting and above all it was a successful synergy in this very difficult pandemic period.
The World Cup calendar for the upcoming 2022/23 season also looks very promising, with the preliminary version currently consisting of six moguls and seven dual moguls events, as well as seven aerials and three aerials mixed team competitions, with the highlight events of the season coming in February at the 2023 World Championships in Bakuriani (GEO).
The Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games once again thrust moguls and aerials competitions into the global stage, with perfectly-prepared courses allowing the athletes of the five Freestyle competitions to thrill the world once again – including in the Olympic debut of aerials mixed team event.
The 2021/22 Continental Cups were highly successful with nine moguls, nine dual moguls and nine aerials competitions taking place as part of Europa Cup series, while over in North America there were four moguls and four dual moguls, as well as six aerials competitions going down as part of NorAm Cup. The 2022/23 calendars for both Europa Cup and NorAm Cup will be presented later at the FIS fall meetings in Zurich. Additionally there will be an official appointment of two new Race Directors: Karin Arnold for the European Cup Moguls and Aerials, as well as Konrad Rotermund for the NorAm. Both will also act as WC RD assistants for their geographical areas, which will allow for better coordination of the FIS the activities on several levels for freestyle disciplines.
Last, but not least the 2022 Junior World Championships took place in Chiesa in Valmalenco (ITA) and saw the introduction of the dual mogul mixed team event into competition programme, which turned out to be a highly entertaining competition format. A letter of intent to organise the Junior World Championships 2023 in Airolo (SUI) was sent to the FIS race management and this application has still to be confirmed by the FIS Council.
Also various report presentations from future events organisers were given during the sub-committee meetings, including from the upcoming hosts of the 2023 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships in Bakuriani (GEO), and from representatives of the St. Moritz 2025 (SUI) World Championships. Further, Montafon (AUT) was presented as a candidate to host the event in 2027.
During the 2024 Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon (KOR), moguls will be introduced for the first time with the DM and DMT events, which is an important milestone achieved by the freestyle community.
The process of developing the remote judging system also continues, with much progress being made in the course of last two years. The technology works and gives plenty of reasons to be excited for, while the procedures and standards to be used in the future still need to be defined.
While no major rule changes have been made at the spring meetings, there will be some minor degree of difficulty scoring adjustments for both moguls and aerials, which will allow further development and progression within the events.
Finally, the biggest topic on the table was once again a change to the moguls Olympic programme, specifically eliminating Final 3 to synchronize the Olympic format to the World Cup format, with the goal of creating space on the Olympic programme to add dual moguls into future Olympic Winter Games. One of the prime directives of the Freestyle sub-committee continues to be the addition of dual moguls to the Olympic Winter Games programme, and the next presentation to the FIS Congress with push for this to occur in time for the 2026 Games.