Thursday, June 11, 2015

FIS Conference Varna

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
International Ski Federation (FIS) bigwigs recently completed their end of season meeting in Varna, Bulgaria. One of our intrepid reporters was also in Varna relaxing on the beach, but interrupted his holiday to cover the FIS meeting. Let's find out what the highlights were and what changes we can expect to World Cup Alpine skiing.

Retirement Rules. After the 2014/15 season, there were a lot of retirements from both the Swiss and Austrian women's teams. In fact, the Swiss A speed team is down to two members. In order to prevent whole teams from retiring and being totally depleted, teams will be limited to two retirements per year. If more than two ski racers on a team wish to retire, the oldest ones will get priority. The others will either carry on racing or be on leave status until they become the oldest team members. Our intrepid reporter asked if there would be exceptions for career-ending injuries. The response that we got was, "No way! We don't make exceptions for sissies."
Super-combined Globes Are Back. The FIS just can't seem to make up its mind about globes for super-combined races. It seems like the FIS changes its stance on them more often than some people change their underwear. The on-again-off-again super-combined globes are back on for next season. Who knows what will happen two seasons from now. FIS officials figured that since there are no World Championships or Olympic Games this season, they can add some extra super-combined races to the schedule. When asked if only having a few combined races would make the globe seem like a joke, an official from the FIS replied, "You get an Olympic medal for one race, so why not a crystal globe." It turns out that the FIS was pressured by an unnamed person on one of the national ski teams to reinstate the combined globe. Could this be a corruption scandal on a par with FIFA? Stay tuned.

Super-Combined Part 2. Starting next season, racers who only do the first run of a super-combined race will lose half of their World Cup points and be forced to start last in their next race. The FIS wants to cut down on the number of athletes who use the first run of a super-combined race for downhill or Super-G training. It gives them an unfair advantage over those who didn't start in the combined race. The previous punishment of wagging a finger at an athlete and telling him that he was a bad boy for not starting what he finished has been ineffective. The FIS needed a stronger deterrent. Exceptions will be made for athletes who get injured in the first run or who fall ill between runs. However, the injury or illness must be documented by three doctors who are not associated with that athlete's team. Witch doctors will count as doctors.

Single Pole Slalom. What could be more fun than a barrel of monkeys or an Ante Kostelic slalom course? How about going back to the 1950s with single pole slalom. Instead of trying to figure out which gates to go around and which to go through, slalom racers only have one pole to navigate per turn. No more trying to figure out the course. The poles will also have little flags on them to help the racers even more. What could be simpler! In addition, the poles will be made of hard wood to prevent straddling. After only one time of trying to straddle a pole, a ski racer will quickly learn his lesson that cheaters never prosper.

Racing Suits. The FIS has new racing suit requirements. The suits are no longer required to be one thickness; there is now a thickness range. However, only wild patterns that give a person maximum eyestrain will be allowed. Clashing colors are even better. No more plain suits like the Italians' red suits from last season. If a team decides to have a plain suit, it must be decorated with sequins or feathers.  Also, everyone on a team must wear the same racing suit. Athletes who dare to be deviants and wear their own suits will be penalized by having 250 points deducted from their total and must start last in their next race. Speed suits must also be made of 100% Spandex. No natural fibers will be allowed. Racing suit fabric checks will take place after every race and athletes will be disqualified for having the wrong fabric.

Artistry Bonuses. The scoring system for artistry bonuses has been changed to an open-ended system. It has been an unofficial open-ended system for the past two seasons because many artistry scores have been above the 10 point maximum due to bonuses. Artistry bonuses will also be given in parallel slalom races.

Team Event at the Olympics. A parallel slalom team event, like the team event at the World Championships, will be an Olympic discipline starting in 2018. One proposal for this event was to make it a biathlon-style event. Skiers would race down the parallel slalom course with a rifle strapped over their shoulders. At the end of the course, they would have to shoot five targets with a time penalty for missing a target. But that was rather boring for the spectators. Another proposal was to give teams bonuses for tackling athletes on opposing teams, like Filip Zubcic did to Felix Neureuther at the Schladming World Championships. But then the racers would be so busy trying to tackle each other, they would forget to finish the race. It would be impossible to figure out the medalists. The proposal that was accepted was to have four racers per team, as usual. While one on a team racer is on the course, his teammates would be shooting paintballs at his opponent. There would be a 0.05 second time penalty every time a racer got hit with a paintball. Athletes who compete for an Olympic parallel slalom medal must not only be great skiers, they must also be able to hit a moving target with a paintball.

Interplanetary and Intergalactic Transfers. In light of Anna Fenninger's offer from the planet Zorkon in the Andromeda Galaxy, the topic of racers being able to compete for other planets was brought up. It was tabled until the next meeting because it looks like Anna will stay on Earth next season.

Fictional Countries at the World Championships. This motion was rejected by the FIS. Even though racers from fictional countries like Freedonia can compete at the Olympics, the FIS voted to only have athletes from real countries at the World Championships. It looks like the next time we will see Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli and his teammates from Freedonia will be at the 2018 Olympics.

And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive report.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We report everything that the FIS thinks up.

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