FIS Petition launches debate on FIS Race Calendar

19th October Protect Our Winters launched a public petition calling on FIS to #tryharder and become the climate leader our sport deserves. The petition came after FIS took insufficient climate action despite the demands of over 500 FIS athletes during the last winter season.

The petition calls on FIS to:

  • Implement a target-based sustainability strategy – including a roadmap to achieve a 50% emissions reduction by 2030.
  • Publish FIS’s environmental impact with full transparency.
  • Adapt the competition calendar to reduce the impact of travel and respect the changing climate.
  • And use FIS’s political influence to advocate for climate action at a governmental level.

The low snowfall and destructive preparation methods required to start the season early in Solden and Zermatt this year caused a major outcry. With huge press attention across Europe and many big names in the ski world calling for action on our call for a change in the race calander:

Felix Neureuther German retired World Cup alpine ski racer and former World champion.
“Because of the World Cup calendar, organisers are driven to take measures that are detrimental to skiing.”
“Instead, skiing should be a pioneer in how to do things properly and sensibly so that people still want to experience this joy in the future.

Mikaela Shiffrin five-time Overall World Cup champion.
“To what extent should we adapt our environment to a schedule that we want? Or should we adapt the schedules to the environment?”(2)

Austrian politicians have also become supportive of a change in the race calendar from FIS

Leonore Gewessler (Greens) to the Ö1 Morgenjournal
“In October we had the hottest October days that have been measured so far. That’s it for I don’t understand why you have to stick to a ski start in October at any cost.” It is the task of the international ski association FIS to rethink the schedules now, said Gewessler.(1)

This even gained support from her political opponents who questioned whether the images of early races really promoted skiing tourism in Austria in a positive light

ÖVP environmental spokesman Johannes Schmuckenschlager,
“If the images that are being transported don’t convey a snowy landscape, then that too needs to be questioned, ”(1)

Even the president of FIS Johan Eliasch has spoken of a delay to next years race calendar on an interview for Swedish Radio
“I believe that these uprisings and all reactions help the discussion move forward. Public opinion shows that it is vital that we delay the start of the season”(3)

The Zermatt/Cervina World Cup was set to be held last weekend 11th/12th November and even before it was cancelled due to stormy weather (not unexpected in November) it was already creating headlines. 2 days before the race Alexis Pinturault, France’s most successful world-cup skier decided to boycott. A move prompted by environmental criticism of the event caused by the early season start and the controversial race preparation on the glacier. He told Swiss publication 20mins

“This competition, especially at this time of the year, has no meaning. The test is not in keeping with the times. She shocks everyone.” (5)

The controversal and legally disputed work on the Theodule glacier shocked the outdoor community when it was first reported. But recent reporting by Sébastien Anex in (one of the first media outlets to highlight this) questions whether the work is still continuing in areas judge illegal by authorities. It appears this story is far from over.

“While the weather has buried any hope of a cross-border race, the organizers are still not respecting the law, which was made clear to them on November 10. On the side of the authorities, we remain silent.” Sébastien Anex (6)

POW is hopeful that next year will see a race calendar more appropriate to the climate and will continue to call for the other demands in the petition to be met. We continue to have constructive dialogue with the FIS Sustainability Director and offer our full super to any genuine climate action from FIS.