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…
Snowboard Alpine sub-committee:
Various reports by FIS Race Directors, staff as well as other stakeholders were presented assessing this past 2021/22 season.
Starting with the World Cup tour, the 2021/22 season saw 14 races in nine different locations and given the current global circumstances those numbers are very satisfying. The season started with another outstanding edition of the double weekend in Bannoye (RUS), followed by our Italian classics in Cortina d’Ampezzo and Carezza. Coming into 2022 the tour then moved to Scuol (SUI) and double competitions in Bad Gastein (AUT) before Simonhöhe (AUT) celebrated their WC premiere as a two-day event as well. Following the Olympic break the World Cup tour visited Piancavallo (ITA), Rogla (SLO) and finished in Berchtesgaden (GER) with the PSL and PSL team event double.
Furthermore the TV statistics for World Cup events were presented with the record-breaking 300 million viewership overall for freestyle, freeski and snowboard. The snowboard alpine ranked second just behind Park & Pipe with over 60 million viewers in 2021/22.
The World Cup calendar for the upcoming 2022/23 season is looking even stronger than last season, with the preliminary version of the calendar currently listing nine PGS, eight PSL and six Team competitions – as well as the most anticipated competitions of the next season at the 2023 World Championships in Bakuriani (GEO).
The obvious highlight event of 2021/22 took place at the Beijing 2022 OWG, where the Parallel Giant Slalom resulted in a fantastic race under bluebird sky and great snow conditions. And while there were some unfortunate individual cases in terms of C-19 restriction impact, the Games were a positive signal that the snowboard alpine events are alive and offering fantastic sport experience despite a global pandemic.
The 2021/22 Europa Cup season was a very successful one with eight stops across all Europe. Last, but not least the 2022 Junior World Championships took place in Chiesa in Valmalenco (ITA) along with freestyle moguls & aerials disciplines.
Also various report presentations from future events organisers were given during the sub-committee meetings including FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships hosts Bakuriani 2023 (GEO) and St. Moritz 2025 (SUI). Furthermore Montofon (AUT) was presented as a candidate to host the event in 2027. Worth mentioning here is the fact that for the first time in history of world championships, the parallel mixed team event will be added into competition programme this following season at Bakuriani 2023.
The Snowboard Alpine sub-committee is also strongly in favour of seeking to introduce PSL Mixed Team competition into Olympic programme for Milan/Cortina 2026, as it is one of the disciplines where the host nation of Italy has strong traditions and athletes. The next decision about the integration of events into the OWG program will be made at the end of June. Furthermore there is also the wish for a separate race day per gender for PGS.
Also new developments and implementations for snowboard alpine were discussed – mostly concerning TV production and graphics in order to create a better show that can help promote the sport.
Work on the flour ban for ski and snowboard wax was once again discussed. FIS is prepared to fully enforce the ban at the start of the 2022/2023 winter season. Working with Bruker, a leading manufacturer of high-performance scientific instruments and maintaining a close collaboration with the International Biathlon Union (IBU) through a joint working group, an effective testing method using the Alpha II device was developed. The device provides reliable testing to ensure fluor-free competitions, which will help guarantee fair competitions and a level playing field. The rules regarding the fluor wax ban will be defined at the upcoming FIS Congress, which will then be implemented at the start of the winter 2022/23 season.