ANDY NEWELL SADIE BJORNSEN

SkiTrax - - Out In Front -

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.

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