Ski federation looks at injury trend
OBERHOFEN, Switzerland – The International Ski Federation is calling on Alpine racers and coaches to help find reasons for the high number of serious accidents in World Cup races.
The governing body is concerned about the trend and will review equipment rules for possible changes, FIS president Gian Franco Kasper said Friday.
Downhill world champion John Kucera, World Cup slalom champion Jean-Baptiste Grange and former women’s overall World Cup winner Nicole Hosp are among those ruled out of the Vancouver Olympics because of injuries.
TJ Lanning of the United States broke a vertebra in his neck and dislocated his left knee in a downhill race last month.
“We have now called a meeting with all the coaches, athletes and other involved parties to identify commonalities and to seek practical solutions,” Kasper said in a statement.
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A working group of men’s speed racers will meet next week to discuss the issue in Val Gardena, Italy. Slalom specialists will gather in Austria next month.
Panels of women skiers and coaches are also scheduling meetings to help improve safety.
“Unfortunately, the recent accidents all have different injury patterns, and no pattern resembles exactly another,” FIS men’s race director Guenter Hujara said. “This makes it difficult for us to find solutions, and there will be no single answer to fix everything.”
Hosp’s accident prompted Austria women’s coach Herbert Mandl to call for slower course settings to help skiers adapt to their high-tech equipment, which has made racing more dangerous.
“We are in the process of establishing an expert group that will look into several areas of equipment regulations with the goal of finding some short-term suggestions by the FIS Congress in May,” women’s race director Atle Skaardal said.