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Image Credit: Neil Lande

U.S. Ski & Snowboard sent a list of nine proposals to the FIS for consideration at the FIS Council’s November meeting. At the meeting, the Council will decide whether to endorse the proposals as is, request modification of the proposals or reject supporting the proposal, all of which will be made known to the member nations in advance of the vote at the FIS Congress in May.

“While FIS is held in high esteem, an improved, inclusive, transparent and accountable governance system will greatly enhance the performance of FIS, creating more value for our athletes, our national federations, our event organizers and skiing and snowboarding overall,” said Tiger Shaw, CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

The proposals are as follows.

Term Limits:
 Currently FIS Council members are elected every second year with the president elected every four years. There are no limitations on the number of terms. In order to create greater urgency, independence and a steady stream of fresh voices, U.S. Ski & Snowboard is proposing a maximum of three four-year terms for the president and FIS Council.

Non-Executive President: 
U.S. Ski & Snowboard proposes that the president becomes a non-executive position, more in line with a traditional independent chairman of the board working with a duly-empowered Secretary General/CEO. In the past, the FIS president was non-executive. As an example, the president of the IOC does not draw a salary. This change would be effective upon the retirement of Gian Franco Kasper.

Compensation Disclosures:
 Compensation paid to FIS executive staff is not disclosed except in aggregate across an undefined number of personnel. In today’s world, anti-corruption best practices requires disclosure.U.S. Ski & Snowboard proposes that the total compensation from all sources for the top FIS executive staff be disclosed annually. The IOC Ethics Commission has mandated the disclosure of all compensation received by all IOC members. Shaw said that they are not proposing a change to salaries, but merely asking for transparency.

Empowered Executive Committee:
 The FIS Council meets twice annually.U.S. Ski & Snowboard is proposing that the current executive committee of the Council meet more frequently and be empowered to oversee strategy, business operations and strategy implementation, and that the FIS Secretary General be accountable to the executive committee. The executive committee must include an athlete representative.

Annual Congress and Financial Year: 
The FIS Congress, which is the highest authority within FIS, currently meets once every second year. U.S. Ski & Snowboard proposes an annual FIS Congress to further empower the voice of the national federations and to make FIS a more nimble organization, more fully accountable to its stakeholders. Additionally, U.S. Ski & Snowboard is asking for the financial year of FIS to be adjusted to an annual year, as opposed to the present two years between congresses.

Independent Anti-Doping Panel: 
Anti-doping adjudication is currently handled internally by a FIS Doping Panel comprised of FIS Council members. As recent anti-doping cases have demonstrated, such an approach is rife with conflicts of interest. U.S. Ski & Snowboard proposes that a truly independent anti-doping panel be empowered to adjudicate anti-doping cases.

Gender Balance:
 There are currently no requirements within FIS to address gender diversity. No elected member of the current FIS Council is female. U.S. Ski & Snowboard is proposing that FIS take concrete steps over the coming years to create greater gender balance in the FIS Council, national ski association representatives and in FIS committees.

Athletes: 
Athlete involvement in the governance of FIS is crucial. U.S. Ski & Snowboard proposes to expand that involvement by adding a second athlete to the FIS Council (one of each gender), and providing an athlete position on the FIS Council’s executive committee. U.S. Ski & Snowboard also proposes to enhance the stability and consistency of the FIS Athletes’ Commission and to allow athletes to more fully participate after they retire from active participation – a period when they have more time to devote to leadership and governance. To that end, U.S. Ski & Snowboard proposes that the eligibility of athletes to stand for election be changed to align with that of the IOC, whereby athletes are eligible for election if they have participated in the last Olympic Winter Games or FIS World Championships at the time of their election and, once elected, they will serve an initial four-year term and will be eligible for re-election for a successive four-year term.

Name Change: 
U.S. Ski & Snowboard proposes that the name of the FIS be changed to the International Ski and Snowboard Federation to better recognize the true nature of the sports that it governs.

According to FIS Council member and Chairman of U.S. & Snowboard Dexter Paine, the above proposals are very consistent with a report put forth by the Association of Winter Federations–of which Kasper is the chair–where they defined good governance. It is also consistent with recent good governance practices put into place by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

When asked to choose his top three proposals for which he wants to receive Council endorsement, Shaw listed them as follows: First, the gender proposal. Second, term limits. Third, change the board structure back to a non-executive president. After the meetings on November 17 and 18, there will be greater clarity on how the proposals were received by the Council.

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Heather Black
CEO
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Heather Freeman Black grew up in Stowe, Vt., and after earning her BA from Colby College, moved to Boston where she worked in the international department of BayBanks for two years (as she speaks Spanish, reasonable French, and basic German). In 1988, she began work at Ski Racing where she held multiple positions from executive assistant to photographer to chief operating officer of Sports File, Ski Racing’s former photo arm. Heather remained with the publication until 1995 when she and her husband, Gary Black Jr. (then CEO of Ski Racing), moved to Sun Valley, Idaho.
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