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New school skiers boycott FIS

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If you’ve watched any videos featuring new school skiers in the last few years, chances are you’ve seen a few of these athletes in action. Many of these skiers were instrumental in establishing the sport by innovating new tricks, by working with ski companies to develop new school equipment, and by setting up competitions.

"If the general consensus was that (new school) should be an FIS event, so be it," says Szocs. "But the reaction we got, not just from the letter but by circulating the letter through the ski industry in the week or two before it went out, supported the boycott. No FIS.

"On one hand (FIS involvement) would definitely mean more events, but the creativity of the sport and the progression of the athletes are what we are most concerned about. The FIS isn’t really able to keep up with the progression of their sports right now, especially in freestyle."

True to their word, none of the athletes or ski press on the list showed up to the Big Air competition on Blackcomb. One new school skier who didn’t get on the list attended the event, but kept shouting at the jumpers to "do it for the money, not the FIS."

The FIS is the governing body for a wide range of winter sports, including freestyle and alpine skiing, but has been widely criticized by the snowboarding industry for dividing the athletes between FIS and the International Snowboard Federation (ISF). Many pro snowboarders still believe that the ISF, which has been running snowboard events since the very beginning, should be the only body to govern international snowboarding contests.

However, the FIS secured the rights to run the Olympic snowboard events for the Nagano Olympics, and all athletes that wish to compete in the 2002 Winter Games have no choice but to compete in FIS events in order to qualify.

Some athletes saw this as a slap in the face, mainly because the prize money was lower in FIS events, and the events lacked the energy and exposure of ISF competitions. This season the FIS increased the prize money to lure in the big name talent, but many big names still choose to compete in the IFS.

If the FIS becomes more involved in new school skiing, Szocs feels that the organization will eventually split up the new school skiers into two camps – those who want FIS and those who don’t. In the end, Szocs feels that the FIS can’t help but dampen the new school excitement with its notoriously stiff regulations and management practices.