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This Season was Catastrophic for Winter Sports

Fri, Mar  30, 2007 - By FIS

“Overall, this season was catastrophic for winter sports. At the FIS World Cup and World Ski Championship level we were lucky in terms of snow and the weather. With the exception of the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships in Madonna di Campiglio (ITA) which were postponed from January to March, we were able to stage a great majority of our most important competitions in good conditions according to the schedule. At the lower levels, such as the FIS Continental Cups, FIS-races and especially competitions for the juniors and children, our activities were seriously impacted by the continuously warm weather and dramatic lack of snow. Assessing the situation at the World Cup and World Championship-level only would be misleading; we need to consider the entire spectrum of the more than 4’500 FIS-controlled events annually. I am concerned that we have lost many young people to other sports, either indoor or dry land activities that are less susceptible to weather. The youth want to practice sport, compete and have fun which is something they could not do through skiing this year. This, I am afraid, will have an impact on our future.”

President Kasper continued: “I am also concerned about the losses that the ski industry has racked up this season, up to 30-40% for certain brands. This will surely affect us in the medium-term as the businesses will first try to sell their old stock before ordering new equipment or dump this season’s models at very low prices. Similarly, financial losses at the smaller ski resorts in particular and the associated hotel and restaurant business are significant. This applies to most of Europe as only regions such as the Black Sea, parts of Turkey and Western North-America had good snow this year.”

Looking forward, President Kasper summed up: “We can probably survive one season with such a lack of snow and warm temperatures, but will need a few good seasons coming up. There have been bad snow years in the past and just a year ago, we had an excellent season in all aspects. Rather than blowing up the issue, we will have to wait and see how the situation develops. For our sports, however, we need snow out there on the pistes. As an international sports federation we are too small an actor to reverse any climatic changes but we, too, are evaluating the climatic requirements for our sport and what could be done.”

On a more positive note, he added: “We are pleased to have enjoyed well-organized FIS World Ski Championships from Arosa to Åre, Sapporo and Madonna di Campiglio. We also saw the successful introduction of the FIS Tour de Ski for Cross-Country Skiing at the year’s turn.” Presidet Kasper especially highlighted the broad distribution of podium places across a large number of nations. At the FIS World Ski Championships, 18 nations won medals, led by Norway with a total of 19 medals across all disciplines. “We also saw a certain generational change in several disciplines, especially in Alpine Skiing. This often happens following the Olympic Winter Games, but may have been even more substantial this season. It also seems that there could be new stars in the making in a few disciplines.”