Capturing the moment in a timely fashion is one of the hardest things for anyone to do. For members of the FIS World Cup Committee, their upcoming fall meeting is an opportunity to become proactive about the future. As I pointed out in an earlier article, World Cup Committee Chairman Niklas Carlsson is unafraid to ask committee members the tough questions regarding change for the better.
In a letter to committee members, Carlsson cites the need and the challenge “to grow the interest in our sport among the wider and younger audiences.” Further he says, “in a society where things are changing rapidly every day, and messages and channels and multiplying day by day, we will need to remain open-minded and creative to be a widely beloved and relevant sport also in the future. It is a challenge and one which should be welcomed.”
Hopefully his committee members have given his challenges some thought over the summer and will not come into the fall meeting here in Zürich shooting from the hip.
Naturally, Carlsson will be besieged with self-conceived brilliant ideas, some realistic, others altruistic or self-serving. Aldo Radamas, the outgoing executive director of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, has several ideas of his own which were published earlier today in this premium feature on SkiRacing.com.
The challenge for Carlsson will be to focus discussions on practical suggestions, ones that do not frighten management or are likely to be summarily dismissed by a council prone to defer to the status quo. Additionally what comes out of the meeting must also be acceptable to the major national governing bodies (NGBs) – no easy task! Change requires some sacrifice. There is little indication that the NGBs are ready to give up anything to help the sport moving forward.
In his letter to the committee, Carlson cited core needs that should be examined, including venues, cost structures, and disciplines. Currently, many would argue there are too many events localized in the central Alps. Also in need of examination is the order of events. The current World Cup business structure of having venues and resorts bear all expenses is rapidly becoming financially intolerable – too much expense for too little return!
To move ideas to the next level, the World Cup committee must not be sidetracked by petty thoughts which merely paper over real problems. A great result would be to take on one or two core issues which are achievable and that will foment change. Given the penchant for the FIS to adjust at a snail’s pace, hopefully the council will empower Carlsson to form a working group so that solid concepts can be presented at the FIS Congress in Cancun next June.
The timing is propitious. With two years remaining in his current term, FIS President Gian Franco Kasper must decide whether or not to run again in 2018. For the good of the FIS, he should run for another term and then prepare the governing body for its new leader. Such a move would go hand in glove with the changes to the alpine World Cup. Carlsson has timed his call to action well. Now he just needs true compromise and cooperation from all on the committee and those they represent.