SOELDEN, Austria — The proposed FIS changes to ski radii were slammed by the chairman and CEO of Head, Johan Eliasch, at a press conference with all of his top racers present.
“I am personally skeptical that the proposed change will have the safety results indicated,” Eliasch said, adding that testing by Head had indicated that the changes were less safe. “I hope they (the FIS) will reconsider,” he continued.
The outspoken chairman and owner of Head N.V. , the global sporting goods company, has assembled perhaps the strongest group of World Cup alpine athletes this sport has ever seen, amassing six discipline World Cup globes and one overall trophy last season.
U.S. star Bodie Miller supported Eliasch‘s comments saying that it was a shame that the FIS “did not listen to a group of people who know.” Miller also said that the changes were “demotivating” as they will not let him ski in the innovative manner he is known for. “You know I enjoy the challenge of skiing well,” Miller added, leaving unsaid the proposed new radius will not allow innovation.
Switzerland’s super skier, Didier Cuche, who at 37 was reminded that he had skied on skis with a like radius, said that he had tried some this summer. “At times they were faster, but they were not fun,” he emphasized.
While reigning giant slalom champion Ted Ligety did not address the subject at the press conference his views are very much in support of the Eliasch position. He spells out his thoughts in a well-done blog on his webpage. The blog can be found at http://www.tedligety.com/
Two-time overall champion and U.S. star Lindsey Vonn indicates that the change may not be as dramatic for some of the women on the tour. “We are already skiing on men’s skis so going from a 27 mm radius to 30 will not be a dramatic change.”
Still, many argue that the new radius for women will favor the taller, heavier athletes as they will be able to power the new radius skis more easily.
The FIS has called a special meeting for 1:30 tomorrow (Friday Oct. 21) for athletes, coaches, and the press to explain why the governing body has taken this decision. The FIS has indicated they will present the research which led to the proposed changing of the GS ski radius.
FIS officials have been indicating that shaped skis are inherently dangerous as they allow the skiing public to ski faster and to go further into “off – piste” areas. This contrasts with studies by US ski areas which show a marked decline in accidents since the introduction of shaped skis.
Photo of Johan Eliasch by GEPA