As the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia draw near, the International Ski Federation (FIS) announced plans to use the same judges in both the ski and snowboard disciplines.
ESPN reported late Thursday evening that FIS is actively recruiting judges that can “judge both freeskiing and snowboarding events at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.” According to Joe Fitzgerald, a freestyle skiing coordinator for FIS, the reason for the crossover judging is simple, it boils down to “efficiency and economics.”
The decision has not been met with enthusiasm by the ski and snowboard communities for a number of reasons. The Olympics are undoubtedly the largest stage for freeskiing and snowboarding, which makes fair, accurate judging essential for a sport’s image on an international stage.
With the addition of slopestyle and freeskiing in the 2014 Olympics, it’s crucial that both sports be represented by judges that have a keen knowledge and background stemming from one, singular sport.
Each discipline is rapidly changing, and while it may be possible that one person is versed in both, it seems ludicrous that anyone could be qualified to determine excellence (Olympic medals) in both.
On the world’s largest stage, why wouldn’t FIS and the IOC want each sport to be accurately judged by elites from each discipline? To save a few bucks? It seems there could be numerous, qualified candidates versed in each sport that would volunteer their time to judge in sake of preserving the integrity of both skiing and snowboarding.
Pros, media, and industry representatives have already started voicing their disproval of FIS’s announcement. Here are 5 tweets from across the industry on the rule changes:
Mike Douglas: @MikeDski Pro Skier, Salomon Freeski TV producer
C’mon FIS… really? Is the budget for the Olympics tighter than every other event in the world? http://es.pn/J1pUax
Todd Richards: @btoddrichards: Pro Snowboard, Industry Leader
FIS also confirms they are looking to use the same judges for figure skating and curling.
Liam Griffin: @liamgriffin: Vice President TTR
@dericsg Progressed? More like regressed… things are getting worse! #FIS #SUCKS
Simon Dumont: @SimonDumont06: Professional Skier
Why do people that know nothing about our sports try to make decisions without checking in with the people that make it possible? #crazy
PK Hunder: @PKHunder: Professional Skier
FIS wants same judges for SNB and SKI. sounds like a good plan…..idiots!
Photo Combo: ESPN Event Media