ANDY NEWELL SADIE BJORNSEN
As new FIS president, my top objectives would be:
Improve the way our sport is broadcast. The days when a few stationary cameras on course were enough to keep an audience engaged are definitely over, and, believe it or not, cross-country-skiing television ratings have been steadily dropping in recent years. I would invest in stepping up the Fis-venue media game with many more cable cams, drones, etc., to help keep cross-country skiing relevant on TV for years to come.
Take more control over race venues and race formats. With the system we now have in place, race venues and organizing committees have too much say in what kind of World Cup events they will host. That kind of freedom is nice for a host city of a World Cup, but unfortunately in most seasons, this creates a weird lopsided World Cup calendar. Sometimes, we see Olympic events such as Skiathons and Individual-start 15km's, while relays rarely show up on the schedule before the big events, or there is a huge discrepancy between the number of skate and Classic sprints. It might seem overreaching for FIS to have this much control, but at the end of the day, we could create a schedule that flows better throughout the season and could create quality, fair races by identifying venues that can hold such specific races formats as Classic sprints, Mass starts or Individual starts, and hold them to it. If I were to be the new FIS president, some of my top priorities would be:
Bring the World Cup to North America in the early and late season. I think this could benefit the entire World Cup field, while making the “travel” a more level playing field. It would allow North Americans to share this wonderful sport with more friends, family and supporters. It would grow the sport in areas other than the usual strong countries, resulting in a longer life for our sport!
Create a standardized system so that everyone skis on the same wax. This would help equalize some of the advantages of higher-budget teams and assist in returning the sport back to “who is the best skier.” It could also save enormous amounts of money for everyone involved and bring the sport back to its original form.
Design men's and women's Classic skiing courses differently to maintain some striding for women. Because of the new era of double-poling, many Classic courses have lost their enjoyable “striding.” It goes from wall to flat to downhill. I don't believe that women and men are in the same place with regard to double-poling issues. It seems there is a new era of what Classic skiing looks like, and it is sad to see the traditional striding disappear.
Add mixed-gender relays. This fresh new racing format will create excitement. It will also be fun for the smaller countries that have at least one strong male and female on their team to compete with the stronger Nordic nations.
Keep the shorter events on the World Cup calendar. The shorter events have created some variety in our winners and variety in our viewing interest. And it helps to retain some excitement for the variation in training focus.
Strengthen anti-doping efforts. More specifically fight for an independent WADA and independent FIS anti-doping committees.