KANGWONLAND, Korea — No matter what the rule language will finally say, World Cup racers and teams should be forewarned the FIS is going to be much more firm in its policing of commercial markings next season. While there is still debate as to the degree of penalties to be applied, the FIS Council in a decision taken in Schladming last November indicates commercial marking violations will mean immediate disqualification of the violator.
Howard Peterson, chair of the Advertising Matters Committee for the FIS that governs commercial markings, pointed out that the Council precision said that those who breach the commercial marking roles will be subject to sanctions which “will lead to disqualification.” In addition, the athletes who receive the disqualification sanction could be subject to a Fr.100,000 fine.
According the language in the precision document, Peterson pointed out “even a minor variation will lead to disqualification. The language gives no other options.”
A number of members of the committee voiced concern and questioned committee and Council member, Vedran Pavlek of Croatia, if he could confirm that the language of the Council precision was accurate. He affirmed the Council had indeed taken the stance as worded.
Veteran committee member and Austria’s Secretary General, Klaus Leistner, voiced concern as well. “We need a process,” he said.
According to Marcel Looze, the federation’s event and sponsor manager, the existing rules would allow for varying degrees of sanctions and would not immediately dictate disqualification for the slightest violation of commercial marking rules.
That being said, national governing bodies, teams, and athletes should prepare for the same kind of scrutiny which hard goods equipment and speed suits undergo. FIS rules require that speed suits be tested for air permeability and if they pass the test are plumbed (marked) to indicate acceptance and skis boots and bindings are checked at the end of every run. Whether the organization is going to apply a different plum on suits for commercial markings is not known.
Headgear and goggle straps are in the most violation of the rules according to the committee. The controversy came to a head when Canadian racer Eric Guay was given a sponsors hat which had an over-sized logo and was worn on the winner’s podium. Guay received no sanctions but was given a warning about the commercial size violation. In the future the penalties are most likely going to be far more stiff.
Peterson worried that according to the letter of the Council’s precision document even minor violations could cause an athlete to be disqualified. He recalled the era when Austrian and United States coaches looked for minuscule violations to disqualify racers. In one such incident where an organizer issued oversized bibs, Daron Rahlves put a knot in his bib to tighten it and went on to win the race only to be protested by, you guessed it, the Austrians, for “altering a bib,” and was disqualified.
“We do not need to start that kind of nonsense again,” Peterson added.
It is expected that the Council will be consulted and will look at the language to determine if they want their decision to stand or they feel that enforcing an existing process is a better option.
Erik Guay photo by Gepa