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New school skiers boycott FIS

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Skiers, event organizers feel skiing’s governing body will stifle creativity

In the mid-1990s, the ski industry was flat-lining. Wounded in the snowboarding revolution, surgeons tried mouth to mouth resuscitation. When that failed, they broke out the defibrillators and attempted to shock the industry back to life.

Parabolic skis helped restore skiing’s pulse in the late ’90s, but not enough to bring about a full recovery.

All it needed, it seems, was a shot of adrenaline.

It was only a few years ago that skiers began to take a few tentative runs through the terrain parks, over the tabletops and down the halfpipes. Terrain Parks were once closed to skiers, and snowboarders would yell at any two-planker who invaded their turf.

The scene has undergone some radical changes since then – the skis are different, the terrain parks are equal opportunity, and the same people who would have told you that skiing was on its last legs a few years ago are in awe of the new school skiers. Snowboarders still yell at two-plankers in the park, but more often than not it’s approval.

From a marketing point of view, new school has entered the mainstream with feature videos and magazines, sponsored athletes and well-attended competitions. Until very recently, this growth was created by and fuelled by the athletes themselves.

In the Dec. 1 issue of Pique , new school skier and High North Ski Camp director Shane Szocs took out a full page ad asking people not to support a new school Big Air competition, hosted by the International Ski Federation (FIS) in conjunction with a freestyle World Cup aerials event.

"In the past couple of years there has been a huge amount of progression in skiing and it’s because of the freedom we now have as skiers," wrote Szocs. "There is no question that if we follow the road with FIS to a World Cup Big Air tour the momentum and energy we’ve helped create will quickly fade away. It will also split the athletes up into separate tours as it did in snowboarding, which is the last thing we need as a young and evolving sport."

Almost as significant as the challenge to the FIS was the support that the letter generated among new school skiers. By the time the ad was printed, it was backed by more than 40 industry players, including members of the ski press, filmmakers and, most importantly, some of the biggest names in the sport.

The list of athletes includes Mike Douglas, Seth Morrison, Vincent Dorion, Ken Kreitler, Philou Poirier, JP Auclair, Brad Holmes, Evan Raps, Shane Anderson, Mike Atkinson, Marc McDonell, Skogan Sprang, Shane McConkey, Shannon Schad, Julien Regnier-Lafforge, Anthony Boronowski, Michel Beaudry, Josh Loubek, and the three Phil’s – Belanger, Dion and Larose.

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