What You Need to Know About the New FIS Equipment Regulation:
This year, FIS made a dramatic change to men’s ski racing equipment regulations for the 2017-18 season. This season, male athletes will be skiing on shorter skis with more shape than the previously regulated, which will allow for increased control and quicker turns. The rule change will be in effect for all male competitors racing at all FIS levels for the 2017/2018 season and onward.
- Male competitors at all FIS alpine skiing levels will have to race with GS skis that conform to the following standards:
- Minimum ski length: 193 centimeters (-5 cm tolerance only in FIS-level competitions)
- Minimum radius: 30 meters
- Maximum width under binding: < 65 millimeters
- Maximum width at the top: < 103 mm
It is recommended all FIS level male athletes buy new GS skis for the 2017/2018 season. But of course, we highly recommend speaking with your coach first.
The decision was made at the end of May during the annual FIS Congress week. Here, the Alpine Executive Board, Alpine Committee, World Cup Committee, Classification of Alpine Competitors, Ladies’ Alpine Skiing, Alpine Rules, Alpine Technical Delegates, Working Group Trainers Ladies and Men, Intercontinental Cups, Alpine Youth & Children’s Questions and Working Group for Technical Equipment meet to discuss relevant topics at various levels of the sport. A number of issues were addressed, including doping and the World Cup ski racing calendar. But among the most significant subject was the much-anticipated ski radius change, which was shortened to 30 meters from the current 35 meters, a measurement which has been in place for World Cup skiing since the 2012-13 season.
This move puts the men’s radius in-line with the current women’s GS profile which is also 30 meters, and there seem to be no indicators of that changing. According to industry insiders, the 35-meter skis were becoming increasingly burdensome for racers of all levels, particularly younger athletes.
What are the Potential Downsides?:
Although many seem to be excited about the new regulation — Nordica USA competitor Ethan Kropi’s first reaction was “I wish they would have done it sooner.” – some are critical of the change, saying that it may be a difficult adjustment, both physically and financially, for athletes.
With this change, there will have been a birth year of FIS boys who skied on 35-meter skies for only a single season. Although the shorter radius, in theory, should be easier for athletes to control, injuries often happen when athletes are taken out of their comfort zone. There’s a fear that athletes will not be in their comfort zone with these new skis. Obviously, both athletes (and the organizations that sponsor) them have a keen interest in their health, safety and wellbeing, which is why FIS decided to change the regulations in the first place.
Unfortunately, the new regulations also require a financial commitment to equipment that some families might struggle to justify. The bottom line is that racers will be forced to purchase new racing skis. And, manufacturers will be pressured to churn out enough product in time for the start of the 2017 season.
What this Means for Manufacturers:
Although there is a pressure for ski brands to develop entirely new lines of product, most of them learned a thing or two when the regulations changed dramatically back in 2012 and should have no problem providing new equipment.
“In terms of building skis for World Cup athletes, it’s not really too much of a struggle,” says Nordica USA’s Ethan Korpi in an interview with Skiracing.com. “It does put a little bit of a crunch on the timeline for team-level FIS and below, really the junior FIS level and university athlete. We need to basically re-tool in enough time to get skis into the U.S. or into any other country for that matter for spring testing and early season camps. It kind of jams up our R&D department and our factory a little bit, but we actually gained a little bit of experience with this last switch from 27 to 35 (in 2012) on how to execute that. Hopefully, it will be a little bit easier and a little bit more streamlined than it was the last go around.”
Several brands have been experimenting with 30-meter skis before the switch to 35 meters, which should further streamline the process. The 30-meter ski is pretty close to what was in place prior to 2012. So, most builders have a good foundation and starting point.
The Upside of the New FIS Regulations:
Young male FIS athletes have struggled to develop on 35-meter radius skis due to the amount of strength required to safely and effectively control the equipment. This challenge has been known to athletes, coaches, parents, and ski manufacturers alike since the current regulations were adopted. Many welcome the change to 30-meters and see it as a positive step forward for athlete development. Young kids were not in a particularly great spot with the 35-meter radius ski, as they were physically not strong enough to stay over the skis. It’s reported that the first and second-year FIS athletes were struggling the most. Therefore, many coaches, athletes and families are excited to see the new regulation in place.
The new FIS Equipment Regulation is meant to make the sport more enjoyable to watch and easier to attract and retain athletes. The ability to turn easier ideally should result in fewer injuries as well as add excitement to viewers.
This change is in place for the new 2017/18 season for all FIS competitors. Below you can see charts that detail the new requirements. If you’re looking for new racing skis that meet these new FIS ski regulations, shop our Men’s Advance & Racing Skis. If you have any questions about the new regulations, our products or ski world concerns, please contact customer service.
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